© Reuters. PHOTOGRAPHY: US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) waves in front of the west wing of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, November 18, 2021. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque
Authors Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Senator Joe Manchin’s rejection of a $ 1.75 trillion bill on social spending threatens the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in funding measures to combat global warming and meet the administration’s climate goals.
Biden wanted his comprehensive Build Back Better Act to put the United States on track to at least halve its greenhouse gas emissions this decade from 2005 levels and decarbonise the grid by 2035. Those goals will be harder to achieve if Biden’s fellow Democrat Manchin helps Senate Republicans kill bill.
Here are five major climate measures in the bill and discussions on their prospects if broader legislation disappears:
TAX LOANS FOR CLEAN ENERGY
The law provides more than $ 300 billion in tax breaks for producers and buyers of low-carbon energy, including wind and solar energy and existing nuclear power plants. It would expand tax breaks for renewable energy sources and launch new loans for reactors.
The prospect that such provisions could become law if included in the “climate-only” bill given Manchin’s opposition is unclear, said Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president of energy and environmental policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. .
But smaller incentives for renewables could be adopted if, along with disruptions to nuclear and hydrogen, technologies that could bring jobs to regions where coal-fired power plants are shutting down.
Goldfuss said another way back to the negotiating table could be narrowing and pairing low-carbon tax credits with other popular elements like prescription drugs and child support.
TAX INCENTIVES FOR CARBON CAPTURE
The bill contains billions of dollars to extend so-called 45-quarter tax breaks for power plants and industrial plants to capture carbon emissions and store them underground or use them for other purposes.
Senator Tina Smith, a Democrat who sponsored the 45Q law, said she would continue to fight for her measure because the incentives could benefit ethanol factories in her state of Minnesota and across the Midwest.
“This is one place where we could see some bilateral agreement,” Smith told Reuters.
Manchin supports carbon capture and wants to make it easier to secure subsidies. He supports removing a provision in the version of Build Back Better adopted by the house that would require plants to capture at least 75% of their carbon emissions in order to qualify for 45Q.
The law contains fees for oil and gas plants that emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Such fees would increase revenues in the fight against climate change. After Manchin opposed the initial methane charge, Democrats eased it to gradually introduce drill charges starting at $ 900 per tonne of emissions instead of $ 1,500.
Progressive Democratic MP Pramila Jayapal suggested in a media call that Biden could improve methane charges through the executive branch. Still, lawmakers say climate legislation is best because courts or future presidents can overturn executive actions.
ELECTRIFICATION OF INFRASTRUCTURE
The bill has about $ 13 billion for building electrification and energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Several cities, including New York recently, have accepted proposals for new buildings to use electricity for heating and cooking instead of gas appliances. But it’s a tough sale for lawmakers from countries where budgets depend on fossil fuel production.
TAX PAYMENTS ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Biden’s legislation also has incentives for electric vehicle buyers, including increasing tax breaks to $ 12,500 for union vehicles from $ 7,500 and 30% credit for commercial electric vehicles.
ClearView Energy Partners, a non-partisan research group, said in a note to clients that EV loans are an incentive that could be included in a “tax extender” package later next year, when Congress usually votes on a law on short-term tax break breaks.
That tactic could require achieving 60 votes in an evenly divided Senate. But it is more likely to pass if the union provision is dropped, and as electric vehicle production extends to Texas and other states typically led by Republicans, ClearView said.