Energy & Environment —Schumer-Manchin deal boosts renewables


The reconciliation deal will be a boost for the renewables industry. Meanwhile, major oil companies recently saw a bump in profits.

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Renewables welcome ’11th hour’ Manchin reprieve

The renewable energy sector is feeling a rare jolt of optimism over the announcement of a Senate deal on a Democrats-only reconciliation bill, weeks after hope seemed lost.

Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) had dealt renewables a one-two punch after first saying in December that he would not support President Biden’s Build Back Better package and then announcing months later that he would not back the climate provisions in a reconciliation package, which could clear the 50-50 Senate without any cross-isolate support.

But then: On Wednesday night, however, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) unveiled an agreement that would provide billions for the sector.

  • Their deal includes a $7,500 tax credit for new clean vehicles and a $4,000 tax credit for used ones. It also features tax credits aimed at solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing and $40 billion to incentivize state utilities to transition to renewable energy sources.

In previous negotiations, the electric vehicle provisions were one of Manchin’s major sticking points, with the West Virginia Democrat specifically objecting to a credit for vehicles produced by union labor. That provision does not appear in the agreement released Wednesday.

Raves from the industry: Should the measure become law, American Council on Renewable Energy CEO Greg Wetstone predicted a “tremendous increase in investment with the benefit of the policy certainty that this bill brings.”

“I think Congress has stepped to the climate challenge in a way we have not seen before, and this bill is going to put us in the game,” Wetstone said. “It’s not a given that we can meet our ambitious targets, but we’re going to be in the ballpark.”

The Biden administration has laid out a target of reducing US emissions by half by 2030. The package unveiled Wednesday would cut emissions by 40 percent in that time frame, according to Manchin, the same goal as the initial Build Back Better package.

Heather Zichal, CEO of American Clean Power, called the bill “an 11th hour reprieve for climate action and clean energy jobs, and America’s biggest legislative moment for climate and energy policy.”

  • “Congress now is inches away from passing a $369.75 billion investment in energy security and climate change programs over the next ten years — the biggest climate and clean energy investment in American history,” Zichal said in a statement.
  • “Passing this bill sends a message to the world that America is leading on climate, and sends a message at home that we will create more great jobs for Americans in this industry.”

Read more about the package here.

Big oil, big profits

ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell posted record profits in the second quarter of 2022 as companies announced earnings this week.

The stats: Exxon said Friday that between April and June of this year, it made $17.9 billion, up from about $5.5 billion during January through March.

Chevron, meanwhile, made $11.6 billion up from around $6 billion last quarter.

Shell made 11.5 billion, up from 9.1 billion the previous quarter.

The profits come amid consistently high fuel prices spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This year, prices of US crude oil peaked in March, which was in the first quarter, but remained above $100 per barrel for several weeks.

US gasoline prices peaked in June and have fallen in recent weeks.

The politics: Democrats have criticized the companies’ high profits as Americans contended with high fuel prices.

This week’s profit announcements drew new criticism from the left, particularly as the companies also said they would buy back more shares of their stock as a way of giving money to shareholders.

“While you were feeling pain at the pump, Shell, Exxon, and Chevron raked in $46 BILLION in profits over the last three months and said they would spend up to $47 billion on stock buybacks after spending $18.8 billion so far this year. Yes, it’s time for a windfall profits tax,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Read more here.

Experts want blood tests for those exposed to PFAS

Blood tests for the presence of “forever chemicals” should be available to patients who have a history of likely elevated exposure to these substances, a panel of top environmental health experts declared on Wednesday.

Clinicians should offer tests to patients who have been exposed to these cancer-linked compounds by either working or living in contaminated settings, the experts argued in a 300-page report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The report calls upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update its clinical guidance regarding blood testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These so-called forever chemicals are linked to a variety of illnesses, such as thyroid cancer, testicular cancer and kidney disease.

If testing then reveals PFAS levels associated with an increased risk of adverse effects, patients should receive regular screenings and monitoring for these health impacts, according to the report.

“We are going to need robust and effective collaboration between local communities, states, and federal agencies in order to respond to the challenge of PFAS exposure,” Ned Calonge, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver, said in a statement.

Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Exxon CEO Loves What Manchin Did for Big Oil in $370 Billion Deal (Bloomberg)
  • Biden EPA to tackle coal industry carbon with rules on other pollutants (Reuters)
  • At least 4 deaths in Oregon tied to heat wave (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
  • Why it’s not just the heat from heatwaves that puts us at risk (The Guardian)
  • The largest Audubon group yet is changing its name, rebuking an enslaver (The Washington Post)

🐯 Lighter click: Good news for tigers!

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 next week.

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