Senate committee passes bill that includes climate change section

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on July 30 voted unanimously to approve a five-year highway reauthorization bill that includes a section dedicated to climate change.

The legislation was unveiled on July 29 by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, and Ranking Member Tom Carper, D-Del. President Trump tweeted his support for the bill on July 30.

The bill largely incorporates the provisions of Carper’s Clean Corridors Act (S. 2674), establishing a competitive grant program to strategically deploy alternative fuel vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors that will be accessible to all drivers of electric, hydrogen, and natural gas vehicles. The bill provides $100 million for each of fiscal years 2021 and 2022; $200 million for fiscal year 2023; and $300 million for each of fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

In April, the American Public Power Association voiced its support Carper’s legislation.

“Public power utilities are uniquely situated to facilitate the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the communities they serve,” Desmarie Waterhouse, Vice President of Government Relations and Counsel at the Association, noted at the time.

She said the Association supported Carper’s bill “because it would promote the build-out of EV infrastructure needed to support electrification of the transportation sector.”

Under the bill, public power utilities would be eligible for grants. Unlike the original bill, however, the highway bill defines “alternative fuel” as electric, hydrogen or natural gas, rather than just electric and hydrogen.

The bill also incorporates the provisions of Barrasso’s Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act (S. 383).

This bill supports carbon utilization and direct air capture research, and supports federal, state, and non-governmental collaboration in the construction and development of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration facilities and carbon dioxide pipelines.

In addition, the bill establishes a competitive grant program to reduce idling and emissions at port facilities, including port electrification projects. The bill provides: $60 million for fiscal year 2021; $70 million for each of fiscal years 2022 and 2023; $80 million for fiscal year 2024; and $90 million for fiscal year 2025.

The bill must next be considered by the Senate Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, on Commerce, Science and Transportation and on Finance before it can be considered for consideration by the full Senate.