Analysis by Energy Workforce SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change held its first hearing on the CLEAN Future Act, which is likely to turn into a multiyear debate between Republicans and Democrats on addressing climate change.
The bill is the first major piece of climate change legislation since the start of the Biden Administration. While the CLEAN Future Act is still early in a long legislative process, it contains multiple provisions affecting companies represented by the Council.
During the hearing, Democrats argued that energy transition is in full swing and that the bill will push the process forward and ensure nobody is left behind. Republicans urged caution and expressed concern about potential economic effects.
“We’re going to destroy livelihoods, disrupt families, decimate communities, increase utility bills, threaten the stability of our grid, and we will still experience negative effects of climate change,” said ranking member Rep. David McKinley (R-WV-1). “We agree we need to work to reduce carbon emissions, but we also need to understand the consequences before we rush into such a punitive action.”
With reservations on both sides of aisle, it’s unclear whether this bill can make it through the legislative process. Its progress will depend on whether moderate Democrats are willing to support it.
For our sector, there are several significant provisions.
- Section 621 creates a new category under the Safe Drinking Water Act that would regulate underground injection category for enhanced oil recovery wells using carbon dioxide.
- Section 623 expands the Safe Drinking Water Act to include direct regulation of hydraulic fracturing. It would require mandatory testing of nearby underground drinking water sources.
- Sec. 625 would repeal the current exclusion of drilling fluids and produced water from the hazardous waste subtitle of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act thus giving EPA increased authority in this area.
The next step will be a full hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee followed by a committee markup and a potential floor vote. The Council will monitor the bill throughout this process and provide updates.
The hearing on the CLEAN Future Act took place during a week when multiple announcements in the space were made by the Biden Administration. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission established a climate risk unit on Wednesday, and the SEC invited public comment on mandatory climate risk disclosure rules, a move that was endorsed by BlackRock. These moves drew swift rebukes from Senate Republicans who argued this will ultimately lead to discrimination against companies that deal in fossil fuels and that climate risk shouldn’t be legislated by financial regulators.
For more information on the Council’s advocacy efforts or to get involved, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.