Congressional Update

The House of Representatives continued a busy summer schedule last week with six of seven session weeks in a row. After passing the debt ceiling extension weeks ago, Congress turned to must-do items with the House marking up the annual defense bill, appropriations legislation, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization. A major legislative item that appears to be slow moving is the 2023 Farm Bill. While the technical deadline for Farm Bill authorization is September 30, 2023, (when the federal fiscal year ends) many farm bill programs expire at midnight on December 31, 2023.

While Congress works to address critical legislation, President Biden continues to shoot down efforts by Congressional Republicans to enact consumer-friendly policies. President Joe Biden on Wednesday followed through on his promise to veto a congressional resolution that would have overturned one of his administration’s regulations on truck pollution. The resolution, S.J. Res. 11, from Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) was aimed at disapproving EPA’s regulation on nitrogen oxides and other pollution from heavy-duty trucks. It passed both chambers under the Congressional Review Act with bipartisan support.

On June 13th, the Biden administration released its semiannual Unified Agenda, which outlines administration focus on clean energy, methane emissions, heat pumps, upcoming tobacco regulations, and additional Biden priorities ahead of the 2024 election season. The Unified Agenda previews the pending actions regarding EPA’s gasoline bulk plant vapor balancing systems (by the end of August), OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings and FDA’s product standards for menthol in cigarettes, flavored cigars, and nicotine levels in certain tobacco products. The administration announcement also highlights a handful of energy regulations set for promulgation by the end of this year including Bureau of Land Management plans to finalize new restrictions on venting and flaring of methane in the federal oil patch by September. The draft rule, released in November, would require oil companies to show there is enough pipeline capacity to carry away produced gas. And, while President Biden continues to push a climate-focused agenda, the administration is sparking anger among environmental groups after a series of approvals of major fossil fuel projects, most notably the Willow oil project on the North Slope of Alaska.

Also, last week, the American Clean Power Association released a consensus framework on the 45V hydrogen production tax credit and focused on the three pillars for emissions accounting: Time-matching, additionality and regionality. The lucrative tax credit worth up to $3 per kilogram for hydrogen produced through a process resulting in low lifetime greenhouse gas emissions.

Congressional Republicans will continue to push back on the administration’s radical clean-energy policies. On Wednesday, Senators Risch (R-ID) and Barrasso (R-WY) introduced legislation to lower energy prices for American families by repealing the $10.5 billion “Superfund Tax” on American energy production. Next week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Driving Affordability: Preserving People’s Freedom to Buy Affordable Vehicles and Fuel.”