Congressional Update

Congress is rounding into mid-season form, hearing from leaders of federal agencies as they seek to justify their budget requests for FY 2024. This includes testimony from EPA Administrator Michael Regan before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. This was not just an opportunity for Mr. Regan to justify his proposed $12.08 billion budget request, which is almost a 20 percent bump from FY 2023. As part of the hearing, Ranking Member Capito (R-WV) took time to raise concern “about the way the EPA is prioritizing certain regulatory actions.” She noted WOTUS changes, changed rules around forever chemicals – like PFAS and PFOA – and noted her prior hearing with Joseph Goffman, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation at EPA, which was the hearing that led her to ask a follow-up question regarding EMA’s small gasoline bulk plant proposed rule concerns. She effectively said that EPA had wasted a lot of time on regulations that hurt small business and consumers. At the same time, though, EPW Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) said that he supports EPW’s “efforts to advance environmental justice,” applauding the agencies work to regulate clean air and water.

In the House, the Rules committee will be meeting early next week on Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) first major piece of legislation, H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act. At this point, we’re learning that they intend to send the bill to the floor under a structured rule that would gatekeep some amendments before the bill’s eventual passage in the House. While this is the Speaker’s first major piece of legislation this Congress, and will surely pass the House, it will have a difficult (read: impossible) path to passage in the Senate. Instead, this bill should largely be seen as a messaging piece for House Republicans.

A new national coalition known as the Clean Freight Coalition (CFC) was formed this week by the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association, American Truck Dealers, National Tank Truck Carriers and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association to promote the work underway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from freight transportation and advocate for sound policies that transition toward a zero-emission future in a manner that assures affordable and reliable freight transportation and protects the nation’s supply chain. Click here to read more about the progress the trucking industry has made in reducing emissions and protecting the environment.

Outside of Washington, Chubb, one of the top-10 largest insurers in the oil and gas market, is changing its policies for insuring oil and gas companies, requiring lower methane emissions. Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg said that this had nothing to do with activist pressure around ESG investing, but that they want to help with carbon reduction, and that if companies don’t comply, they “won’t underwrite them.” He added that 85 percent of Chubb’s oil and gas clients are already in compliance, and that the company would provide a grace period for others to get on board.