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THE OTHER WEST VIRGINIA SENATOR’S PLANS: Joe Manchin is not the only West Virginia senator resolved to trim the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” spending bill.
Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has been left out of negotiations over the partisan spending bill but is planning a trio of amendments to pluck energy and climate-related provisions from the bill once it’s introduced on the Senate floor.
Top of the list is an amendment to cut out the $4,500 tax credit applicable only to electric vehicles that are made in America by union workers, something Capito derided as a “special interest subsidy” which amounts to Democrats “putting their thumb on the scale” in favor of its union constituency.
“I've never seen a provision that favors one American worker over another American worker,” Capito told Jeremy, making reference to a non-union Toyota plant in the West Virginia town of Buffalo.
“I don't know why we would disadvantage a West Virginia worker, regardless of what their status is in terms of union, non-union,” she said.
Capito is also planning an amendment that would strike the allocation of $50 million in grant funding to the Federal Highway Administration for the purpose of establishing a transportation-related “greenhouse gas performance measure that requires states to set performance targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The provision also orders the establishment of “consequences” for those states that do not reduce emissions.
“What does that mean?” Capito said of the provision and the undefined “consequences” clause. “Does that mean that they can come in and cut the state's formula funding that's used to upgrade our roads and our bridges?”
Capito added that complying with a set standard for transportation emissions would be difficult for rural West Virginia and said the provision doesn’t distinguish between states or regions with varying emissions footprints.
“We're not, you know, L.A. So in order for us to cut from a low emission standard, it's going to be really hard for us,” she said.
A third amendment would target another $45 million allocated to the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act — the same authority used for the defunct Obama-era Clean Power Plan.
The bigger picture: On her objections to the overall bill, Capito made special note of rising inflation, echoing the argument embraced by many Republicans (the argument Manchin is clearly sympathetic to) that authorizing trillions in new spending will worsen the outlook.
“This is a trend that's troubling. It's not transitory,” Capito said. “So I think that these kinds of realities that people are facing, whether it's higher heating bills or more more dollars at the pump, are weighing heavy on the American public, and I think the Democrats if they're going to try to ram this through, they're going to run into more and more trouble.”
“I'm hoping that that's enough to disrupt it and throw it off the agenda” she added. “I just think now’s not the time to do it.”
A bonus “outsider” prediction: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is still vying for a Christmas deadline to pass the bill, which Capito called “almost an impossibility.”
“I don't see how this gets done before Christmas,” she said. “I think it would be very difficult.”
Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writer Jeremy Beaman (@jeremywbeaman). Email email@example.com for tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email, and we’ll add you to our list.
64 DEAD IN KENTUCKY FROM TORNADOES: Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said Monday that there were 64 confirmed deaths in the state from the tornadoes that swept through Friday.
Kentucky was the hardest hit, but people have also been reported killed in Illinois, Tennessee, and Missouri. Parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama still reportedly lacked power as of today.
Climate connection: FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell said on CNN yesterday that the tornadoes represent a “new normal” in a changing climate.
"The effects we are seeing of climate change are the crisis of our generation," Criswell said.
Scientists say it’s very difficult to attribute tornadoes to climate change, though.
“For a lot of our questions about climate change and tornadoes, the answer is we don’t know,” Harold Brooks, a senior research scientist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory, told the New York Times. “We don’t see evidence for changes in average annual occurrence or intensity over the last 40 to 60 years.”
HIGH PRICES DRIVE URGENCY TO PASS SPENDING BILL: News that inflation in November rose 6.8% year-over-year drove Democratic leadership to argue that their $2.4 trillion social spending measure will alleviate price pressures, rather than add to them, the Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio reports.
“Today’s consumer price index data makes clear: If we want to fight inflation and lower costs, the best thing we can do is to pass Build Back Better,” Schumer said on Friday, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the bill “the most significant cost-cutting and inflation-fighting measure in recent history.”
The prospect of $2.4 trillion in spending further catalyzing inflation has been a chief argument against the Build Back Better Act’s opponents and remains a going concern of Manchin’s, despite Democrats’ assertions that the bill will lower costs.
“I don't know how you control inflation when the first year of spending is going to be quite large. And that's an awful lot more of federal dollars going into a time when we have uncertainty and inflation now at 6.2%, maybe going higher,” Manchin said last week before the updated numbers were released.
WHITE HOUSE RELEASES ELECTRIC VEHICLE PLAN: The White House announced the Biden administration’s “action plan” on electric vehicles this morning to support rollout of the bipartisan infrastructure law’s EV provisions.
The plan involves the establishment of a “Joint Office of Energy and Transportation” enabling the two departments to work together to implement the EV charging network funding, and by Feb. 11, DOT will publish a guidance for states and cities to help them “to strategically deploy EV charging stations to build out a national network along our nation’s highway system,” per a White House fact sheet.
The bipartisan infrastructure law provides $7.5 billion to build charging stations across the country. President Joe Biden is targeting 2030 for 50% of all new vehicle sales to be zero-emissions, and the executive order he signed last week establishes a goal of acquiring a 100% zero-emission federal vehicle fleet by 2035, or 2027 for the government’s light-vehicle fleet.
NATIONAL ELECTRIC VEHICLE SUMMIT PLANNED FOR JANUARY: The National EV Charging Initiative, made up of a mix of business, labor, and environmental groups, will host a first-of-its-kind summit on Jan. 20 to discuss what it will take for the nation to accomplish adequate charging capacity in pursuit of Biden’s electric vehicles targets.
EUROPE’S GAS PRICES RISE OVER OFFICIAL’S NS2 COMMENTS: Europe’s gas futures went up 10% today after German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said the build-up of Russian troops along the country’s border with Ukraine is a “factor” contributing to the outstanding status of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the Financial Times reports.
Baerbock also said that “as things stand at the moment, this pipeline can’t be approved because it does not fulfil the requirements of European energy law.” A German regulator already suspended certification of the pipeline last month, saying the company behind it has to set up a separate business entity in Germany.
Nord Stream 2 remains a centerpiece of volatility in the region and abroad, as congressional lawmakers and the Biden administration look to punish Russia with sanctions or blocking of the pipeline if it moves into Ukraine.
BITCOIN MINING HAS RECOVERED FROM CHINA BAN: Total Bitcoin mining has recovered from the total ban imposed by China earlier this year.
Hashrate, meaning the computing power of all miners in the bitcoin network, recovered by the end of last week to where it was before mining was effectively banned in May in China, which at the time accounted for the majority of mining.
“Bitcoin withstood a nation-state attack of China actually banning mining, and the network shrugged it off,” Kevin Zhang of digital currency company Foundry told CNBC.
Bitcoin mining is often power-intensive and liberal Democrats have questioned the industry about the emissions effects of producing new coins.
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MONDAY | DEC. 13
4 p.m. The Atlantic Council Global Energy Center will host an event entitled “Securing the energy and critical infrastructure sectors from cyberattacks,” with keynote remarks from former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.