Energy & Environment — Manchin agrees to climate provisions in reconciliation

Sens. Joe Manchin and Charles Schumer announce a breakthrough on climate spending, the Energy Department announces its first loan under an electric vehicles program in a decade and the Biden administration seeks to boost solar power. 

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack BudrykSubscribe here.

Manchin: Deal reached on taxes, climate

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced on Wednesday that he has struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on legislation aimed at advancing key pieces of President Biden’s agenda, including measures that target taxes, lowering drug prices and combating climate change.

So what does that mean? “I strongly support the passage of commonsense policies that reduce inflation and focus on the major challenges confronting America today and in the future,” Manchin said in a statement.

  • “I now propose and will vote for the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Rather than risking more inflation with trillions in new spending, this bill will cut the inflation taxes Americans are paying, lower the cost of health insurance and prescription drugs, and ensure our country invests in the energy security and climate change solutions we need to remain a global superpower through innovation rather than elimination,” he added.
  • The provisions agreed to by Manchin and Schumer would invest a total of $369.75 billion in Energy Security and Climate Change programs over 10 years, they said.
  • They also said that the package would cut about 40 percent of the country’s carbon emissions by 2030.

How we got here: The announcement comes after Manchin had previously backed away from talks relating to climate and tax provisions, saying he’d rather focus on lowering drug costs.  

Manchin’s statement said that the deal invests in technologies that would bolster various types of energy, including fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear hydrogen and energy storage.  

He added that it also invests in reducing both domestic emissions of planet-warming carbon and methane, and in global emissions reductions. 

The statement did not include policy specifics on how this would be achieved, but many of the objectives he laid out appear to be in line with previously proposed clean energy tax credits.

Read more from Rachel and The Hill’s Aris Folley.

Facility gets loan to process electric vehicle materials

The Energy Department announced Wednesday that it will give a $102 million loan to expand a processing facility for materials used in electric vehicle batteries.  

  • The department said that the project is expected to create 150 jobs in construction and 98 jobs in operations.
  • The facility, owned by Syrah Technologies in Vidalia, La., is a major manufacturer of a material used in lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and other clean-energy technologies. 

What does that work out to? In a conditional approval from April, the Energy Department said that the loan could give the facility enough capacity to produce about 2.5 million electric vehicles by 2040, saving 970 million gallons of gasoline. 

  • The Energy Department’s “investment in Syrah Vidalia builds on President Biden’s goals to secure our clean transportation future and grow the United States’ electric vehicle and advanced battery manufacturing workforce,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
  • The facility, however, has been the subject of some controversy. E&E News reported in May that the graphite it uses in its batteries is mined in an area of Mozambique where an ISIS-linked insurgency is happening.  

Asked on a Wednesday press call whether there was anything being done to make sure the loan didn’t further inflame those tensions, officials deferred to Syrah CFO Stephen Wells. Wells said the company was monitoring incidents near the mine, has a strong relationship with the local and national government and “undertake[s] to” employ 96 percent locals in the mine. 

The loan issued by the Energy Department is the first that it has issued through its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program since 2011.

Read more about the program here.

Biden officials announce solar initiatives

The Biden administration is announcing several initiatives aimed at boosting the deployment of solar energy.

  • A fact sheet from the administration framed the measure as a way to cut energy costs and create jobs — in addition to taking on climate change.
  • It comes amid increasing pressure on the administration to further act on the issue after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) backed away from talks on legislation to fight climate change last month.

One of the initiatives, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, would better enable people in government-assisted housing to access solar energy.

It would do so by not counting their participation in solar programs that cut their energy bills against their income, which can determine their level of rent assistance. 

A White House fact sheet said this would enable as many as 4.5 million families to get access to solar energy, which it said can save families an average of 10 percent annually on electricity. 

The administration is also launching a pilot program in Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Washington, D.C., to make solar power that’s produced locally more accessible for low-income households. This program would connect households that get energy assistance from the federal government to this community solar. 

Read more about the announcement here.

WAITING FOR GOFFMAN

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee did not vote Wednesday on the nomination of Joe Goffman to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s air and radiation office, as originally scheduled, instead advancing two other nominees by voice vote.

  • Not every Democratic member of the 10-10 panel was present, potentially endangering the nomination in committee.
  • Goffman was the architect of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, the 2015 emissions-reductions plan recently thrown out by the Supreme Court in its West Virginia vs. EPA decision, and currently serves in the administration in an acting capacity.

“His response to the Supreme Court’s decision reaffirmed why I am opposed to him,” Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said at the opening of the hearing Wednesday.

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • The Senate Energy Committee will hold a full committee hearing to consider pending legislation
  • The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Toxic Air: How Leaded Aviation Fuel Is Poisoning America’s Children”

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Dark power: How utilities neutralize opponents, grow profits (The Orlando Sentinel/Floodlight)
  • Barbados Resists Climate Colonialism in an Effort to Survive the Costs of Global Warming (Pro PublicaThe New York Times Magazine
  • Unprecedented Heat And Stressed Grids Make Dangerous Power Outages Increasingly Likely (HuffPost
  • In Brazil’s Amazon, there’s little political cost to destroying the rainforest (The Washington Post

ICYMI

Lighter click: Causing a stir

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow. 

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