Climate Change Legislation Included in Coronavirus Relief Deal
The push by industry to enact the bill brought along support from Republicans, despite Mr. Trump’s opposition to climate policy. At least 16 Republicans have signed on as sponsors to the legislation, which was jointly written by Senator Thomas Carper of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana. Mr. Kennedy’s state is home to hundreds of chemical manufacturing facilities; he framed the bill as a job creator for those companies.
“American jobs are on the line, and we can protect them by keeping the United States competitive in global industry,” he said. “To create thousands of jobs, save billions of dollars and safeguard the environment, we must invest in alternatives to HFCs.”
Environmental groups celebrated the support of Republicans like Mr. Kennedy. “It points to what we saw out of this election — voters want action on climate and even some Republicans want action on climate, and the Republicans leading on this HFC deal are starting to understand that,” said Matthew Davis, legislative director for the League of Conservation Voters.
In addition to the HFC bill, the larger spending package also included a bipartisan renewable energy bill, co-sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, the chair and ranking member of the Senate Energy committee.
The bill would not appropriate any new government spending, but it would authorize $35 billion in existing government funding to be spent on clean energy programs over the next five years, including $1 billion for energy storage technology that could serve as batteries for wind and solar power, $1.5 billion for demonstration projects for new solar technology, $2.1 billion for advanced nuclear energy technology and $450 million for technology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The bill would also direct federal agencies to update the government programs that oversee renewable energy spending.
“Some of these will be the first updates to these programs since the iPhone was first in use,” said Josh Freed, an energy policy analyst with Third Way, a center-left research organization. “It’s critically important because energy systems looked a lot different 10 years ago. There were almost no EVs on the road, very little solar panels on roofs, Tesla didn’t exist.”