Inside The Washington Beltway: Energy Market Volatility; EV Rollout; Build Back Better
Last week, EMA, NEFI, Clean Fuels Alliance America and several EMA state associations sent a letter to Congress urging immediate action in response to volatility in energy markets.
Specifically, the letter urges lawmakers to offer heating fuel dealers guaranteed Small Business Administration loans; increase and expand tax credits for cost-saving home efficiency upgrades; enact long-term extensions for renewable fuel tax incentives; encourage greater U.S. energy production; boost the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); and increase funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to raise concerns over the Department of Transportation’s rollout of electric vehicle (EV) charging funds authorized in last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Specifically, lawmakers from western states have argued that the Department’s requirement that EV chargers be located every 50 miles is unreasonable and overly burdensome for many remote highway areas. This criticism is bipartisan, with Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) calling the criteria “challenging.”
“Excessive” Fuel Prices
This week, the U.S. House will likely vote on Democrat-led legislation barring “excessive” or “exploitative” fuel prices as part of Congress’ attempt to help lower fuel prices. This “price gouging” legislation has little chance of passing the Senate.
The “Price Gouging Prevention Act of 2022” would prohibit price gouging during all “abnormal market disruptions” – including the current pandemic – by authorizing the FTC and state attorneys general to enforce a federal ban against “unconscionably excessive price increases.”
Build Back Better
The road to a slimmed-down version of Build Back Better (BBB) is still unknown.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) continues holding bipartisan discussions over a clean energy package but has not engaged in formal discussions with the White House over a broader BBB-style package.
While Senator Manchin would support tax increases to fight inflation, it’s not clear whether fellow moderate Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) would support the same.
The legislative window for another domestic policy package is narrow, given Congressional focus on China legislation, Ukraine, the annual defense policy bill, and government funding.