Senate Infrastructure Update

The Senate continues to move forward in approving the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIB) before it adjourns for August recess. The Senate has considered over twenty amendments – of several hundred offered by Senators.

The U.S. Senate is expected to approve the bipartisan infrastructure bill before it adjourns for August recess, likely early next week. The Senate has considered over twenty amendments – of several hundred offered by Senators – and will end debate soon.

In its current form, the infrastructure bill would provide $7.5 billion in grant funding for states to partner with the private sector to build out EV charging, in which $2.5 billion is set aside for alternative fuel corridors for EV charging, hydrogen, natural gas and propane infrastructure.

The bill also appropriates $7.5 billion for clean vehicle transportation. This is significantly less than the $15 billion President Biden requested specifically for EV charging.

The bill does not include a gas tax increase or additional tax credits to purchase EVs. It also does not include EV user fees.

The infrastructure bill  does not include retrofit requirements to install automatic emergency braking systems or require rear underride protection. Most of the bill is paid for through repurposing unspent pandemic relief funds and unspent unemployment benefits.

The bill does not allow electric vehicle (EV) charging at rest areas, which was included in an early draft.

An amendment offered by Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) would have opened the door to EV charging at rest areas on the Interstate right-of-way (ROW), but after a call to action from EMA and other associations, Senator Ossoff agreed to remove that language from his amendment.

A similar amendment to allow EV charging at rest areas was offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), though we understand this amendment is not expected to be considered. Notably, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) took positive action to the benefit of energy marketers by offering an amendment that would modify the National Electric Vehicle Formula Program (NEVFP) to include biofuel infrastructure.

Though it is not clear if Senator Grassley’s amendment will be considered, it would be significant to EMA members as the NEVFP represents $5 billion of the $7.5 billion directed to EV charging and fueling infrastructure grants.

On the heating fuels front, the infrastructure bill calls for $225 million for the DOE to award grants to local building code agencies, building professionals and standards developers to encourage adoption of more energy efficient building codes as well as $5 billion provided to states for residential and commercial energy efficiency and auditing.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would also like the Senate to vote on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, which would allow the Senate to begin a Democrat-only reconciliation process addressing priorities not included in the bill.

However, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has already raised concerns over the $3.5 trillion price tag so it remains uncertain how the House and Senate will move forward on a reconciliation package.

It also remains uncertain how the House will treat the Senate’s infrastructure bill. Speaker Pelosi has said that the House will not consider the bill without also advancing a reconciliation package.

Require Oil Companies To Pay

In separate Congressional news, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced legislation to require the major oil companies to pay a tax based on the greenhouse gasses they emitted between 2000-2019. \

The Senators will seek to attach the proposal to the Democrat-only reconciliation package, but inclusion is highly unlikely given anticipated opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other moderates.

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil is considering a pledge to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

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