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Top BPC Energy and Climate Priorities included in Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

Skeptics said it couldn’t be done. That bipartisanship in the Senate on major legislation, especially dealing with ambitious clean energy investments and ambitious infrastructure policy, was no longer possible. Yet Senate passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act showed that, framed in the right way, climate-targeted, long-term, clean energy investments can garner bipartisan support. The bill passed on August 10 by the wide margin of 69-30, with 19 Republican Senators in support. Here at Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), we believe the package, and its successful navigation through the Senate, represents a major step forward in the policy agenda for climate and clean energy. While it doesn’t have all the pieces needed for a comprehensive federal climate solution, the IIJA contains some of the most important clean energy investments in US history, as Senators from both parties have noted.

The BPC has been focused for more than a decade on the bipartisan, technically grounded policy and political pathway for climate-focused energy policies. The success of the IIJA (and the Energy Policy Act of 2020 before that) represents a strong signal that this strategy can work. We’re proud to have played a role – along with many of our peers in the stakeholder community – in helping to shape the outcome of this package. Specific BPC Energy Program initiatives that made it into the IIJA include improved federal permitting provisions and funding for major commercial demonstration projects, carbon capture and removal, ports and offshore wind, a modern power grid, and other clean power and transportation infrastructure.

Here is a brief summary of BPC recommendations reflected in the IIJA:

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Infrastructure Permitting Reform

BPC’s Smarter, Cleaner, Faster Infrastructure Task Force was organized around the premise that achieving our nation’s climate goals requires an ability to site, permit, and build infrastructure at a fundamentally faster pace. Eight specific Task Force recommendations are in the bill, including those improving scoping, siting, and investing in the buildout of electricity transmission, which is crucial to the clean energy transition, and provisions streamlining infrastructure permitting.

  • Modernized Permitting Processes

    • Permanently reauthorizes FAST-41, which established the online Permitting Dashboard, Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, and related authorities
    • Codifies One Federal Decision
    • Establishes of a federal goal of approving projects within two years
    • Increases funding for federal agencies responsible for permitting decisions
  • Transmission Development

    • Grants greater authority to FERC to approve siting of a transmission project if deemed in the national interest
    • Adds additional criteria for designating National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors including improved energy security; connection of facilities generating or transmitting firm or intermittent energy to the grid; and lowered consumer electricity costs
  • Critical Minerals

    • Improves the federal permitting process for critical minerals, which are key ingredients for many clean technologies including car batteries, wind turbines and grid storage.

Members of the task force include Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum; Former U.S. Representative John Delaney; Former FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable; Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal; Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro; and Charlotte, FL County Commissioner Bill Truex.

Energy Innovation and Demonstration

For more than a decade, BPC’s American Energy Innovation Council has advocated for a renewed and enhanced federal role in energy demonstration projects. Our Scaling Innovation project is focused on exploring this issue in greater detail.

The IIJA takes a major step forward here, by funding commercial demonstration projects for electricity storage, hydrogen, carbon capture, direct air capture, renewable energy, advanced nuclear energy, and other key topics.

  • Clean Energy Innovation and Demonstration Funding

    • $8.3 billion for Energy Act funding
      • $2.5 billion for advanced reactor demonstration funding
      • $355 million for energy storage demonstration and pilot funding
      • $825 million for critical mineral research
      • $3.5 billion for carbon capture pilot and demonstration projects
      • $115 million for direct air capture technology prize competitions
      • $146 million for hydropower and marine energy RD&D and National Marine Energy Centers
      • $264 million in renewable energy projects
      • $500 million for industrial emissions demonstration projects
    • $9.5 billion for clean hydrogen including the establishment of four regional clean hydrogen hubs, a clean hydrogen manufacturing and recycling program, and a clean hydrogen demonstration, commercialization, and deployment program.
    • $500 million for clean energy demonstrations on current and former mine land
  • Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations

    • Establishes and appropriates $21.5 billion (a significant portion of which comes from the above clean energy innovation and demonstration funding) for an Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations at DOE to support, manage, and assess demonstration projects funded by DOE.

Members of AEIC include Former Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Norm Augustine; Former CEO and President of The Aerospace Corporation Dr. Wanda Austin; Chairman and CEO of General Atomics Neal Blue; Chair, President, and CEO of Dominion Energy Robert Blue; Founder and CEO of ClearPath Jay Faison; Chairman, President, and CEO of Southern Company Thomas A. Fanning; Chairman, President, and CEO of Xcel Energy Ben Fowke; Chairman and CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings Mike Graff; Co-Director of the Jay Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University and founding director of ARPA-E, Arun Majumdar; Executive Vice President and CFO of Sempra Trevor I. Mihalik; Former Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell Chad Holliday; President of the AFL-CIO Elizabeth Shuler; President and CEO of EQT Toby Rice, and Former CEO and President of PG&E Corporation Geisha Williams.

Carbon Management, Carbon Capture, and Carbon Removal

The BPC Direct Air Capture Advisory Council was organized to explore the policy needs to advance DAC technology, an innovative carbon removal method that removes carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. In addition, the BPC has had a longtime focus on carbon capture, utilization, and storage. Through our work on technology policy, tax policy, and sectoral decarbonization initiatives, BPC has helped to enact a number of carbon capture related policies.

The IIJA has important new initiatives targeting a major acceleration of carbon removal efforts. These include facilitating the build out of CO2 pipeline and storage infrastructure through the SCALE Act, funding for four regional DAC hubs, and allowing carbon capture and DAC to be eligible for Private Activity Bond financing.

Members of the DAC Advisory Council include Former Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour; International Vice President at Large at United Steelworkers Roxanne Brown; Former U.S. Representative from Florida Carlos Curbelo; Former U.S. Senator from North Dakota Byron Dorgan; President of the Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Marty Durbin; Senior Advisor at Global Thermostat Nicholas Eisenberger; Co-founder and Co-CEO of Climeworks Christoph Gebald; CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc. Michael J. Graff; BPC President Jason Grumet; Founding Partner of AJW Inc. Chris Hessler; President of Onshore Resources and Carbon Management at Occidental Richard Jackson; Director of World Resources Institute U.S. Dan Lashof; CEO of Carbon Engineering Steve Oldham; Former Executive Vice President at Edison Electric Institute David Owens; and Former U.S. Congressman from Maryland John Delaney.

  • CCUS and DAC Funding

    • $3.5 billion for carbon capture pilot and demonstration projects (noted above)
    • $115 million for direct air capture technology prize competitions (noted above)
    • $5 billion for the SCALE Act
    • $3.5 billion for regional DAC hubs

Natural Carbon Solutions

The BPC Farm and Forest Carbon Solution Initiative is focused on identifying pragmatic, evidence-based policies that enhance the role of American agriculture and forestry as valuable natural carbon solutions and create new revenue streams for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. We brought together the Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Task Force to engage a diverse group of stakeholders—including leaders across industry, agriculture, and forestry; environmental and conservation nonprofits; trade associations; and former government officials—on a shared federal policy agenda for scaling up public and private investments in natural carbon solutions on America’s natural and working lands.

Hazardous fuels management to mitigate wildfires, forest restoration, and the use of innovative wood products are key strategies that BPC highlighted in our recommendations to leverage U.S. agriculture and forests for climate-focused economic recovery. The IIJA provides significant funding for these strategies and includes the REPLANT Act, which removes a cap on essential funding from the Reforestation Trust Fund to address the backlog of restoration projects on our national forests.

  • Natural Carbon Solutions Funding

    • $514 million for U.S. Forest Service hazardous fuels reduction projects, $60 million of which is for the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Grants
    • $178 million for Interior Department hazardous fuels management
    • $100 million authorized for forest restoration on National Forest System lands, including through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program

    • The Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act lifts the current funding cap of $30 million per year on the Reforestation Trust Fund. This would make an average of $123 million annually available for the backlog of 1.3 million acres of national forestland in need of reforestation as a result of wildfires, extreme weather, insect outbreaks, and disease.

The BPC Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Task Force is working to build on this agenda and offer a further set of policy solutions later this fall. Its members include former U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (co-chair); former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (co-chair); Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Cornelius Blanding; President and CEO of American Forests Jad Daley; Director of Government Affairs at EDF Callie Eideberg; Director of Corporate Sustainability at Weyerhaeuser Ara Erickson; President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Whit Fosburgh; Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman; President and CEO of U.S. Dairy Export Council Krysta Harden; Director of University of Georgia Center for Forest Business Bob Izlar; former Acting Chief of USDA NRCS Leonard Jordan; former California Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura; President and CEO of American Forest Foundation Tom Martin; Vice President of Government Affairs at USA Rice Ben Mosely; President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation Collin O’Mara; President of LWP Consulting and ranch operator Laura Wood Peterson; Director of Resource and Government Affairs at Idaho Forest Group Tom Schulz; Grower and Board Member of the National Corn Growers Association Brian Thalmann; and Program Director for the National Indian Carbon Coalition Bryan Van Stippen.

Clean Power and Transportation Infrastructure

The IIJA includes much needed investments in our infrastructure to enable forward progress in the nation’s clean energy transition. BPC partnered with Clean Air Task Force and Third Way on the Decarb America Research Initiative to assess the energy infrastructure needs for a net-zero economy. We found opportunity to modernize infrastructure and develop clean energy industries in every state and region of the United States, shown in our interactive map series.

BPC has also done deep dives into offshore wind and transportation electrification, both of which featured prominently in the IIJA. In our Windy Waters report, we recommended better transmission authorities and planning, as well as increased port infrastructure funding for offshore wind deployment. BPC and its partners Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and the Electrification Coalition called for more focus on the infrastructure needs for medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles.

  • Grid Funding

    • $27 billion in grid infrastructure, resiliency, reliability
      • $5 billion for grid modernization to harden the grid and improve grid resilience to protect against and recover from natural disasters
      • $6 billion for grid reliability and resilience RD&D
      • $3 billion for Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program
      • $2.5 billion revolving loan fund for DOE to act as an “anchor tenant” for new or expanded transmission. The program allows DOE to buy a portion of the capacity (up to 50%) and then sell it back when line is financially viable.
      • $500 million for State Energy Programs to support energy planning and transmission development
      • $10 billion increase in borrowing authority for the Bonneville Power Administration
  • Ports and Offshore Wind Funding

    • $2.25 billion for DOT Port Infrastructure Development Program
    • $25 million for DOT Marine Highways Program
    • Allows for energy storage on the outer continental shelf, which paves the way for storage to be a part of future offshore wind projects.
  • Clean Power Funding

  • Clean Transportation Funding

    • $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging
    • $11.5 billion for low-carbon mass transit
    • Expands qualifying technologies under DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program to include low-carbon medium and heavy-duty vehicles, trains, aircraft, maritime vessels, and hyperloop technology

Going Forward

The BPC Energy Program continues to develop and elevate policy solutions to our climate challenge. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act makes a substantial down payment toward an American clean energy future. The transition to a net-zero carbon economy will necessitate additional legislation and expedited executive branch implementation of these important new programs. BPC plans to be right at the forefront to help achieve our climate goals.

We look forward to working together.

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