House Democrats released a wide range of legislation in February, largely aimed at solidifying their stances on progressive energy and environmental policies ahead of election time in November. Energy and Commerce committee Chairman Pallone released a large package aimed at EVs and charging infrastructure, and Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee continued to release anti-drilling legislation relating to ANWR and other federal lands. On the Republican side, Minority Leader McCarthy released a bill aimed at expanding the existing 45Q tax credit for carbon capture and sequestration, with plans to release other proposals on clean energy and conservation down the road. Rep. Garrett Graves, ranking member of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, is strongly supporting the bill along with Whip Scalise.
In late February, Energy Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Joe Manchin released long awaited energy legislation, a package that consists of nearly 60 (mostly) bipartisan bills. The majority of this legislation focuses on research and funding for new technologies, including plans to leverage the oil and gas industry’s expertise in the creation of geothermal wells. The measure is Murkowski’s capstone legislative project and will get floor time very soon to be passed. Finally, Senators took aim at the federal royalty rate for oil and gas in February, with a bipartisan bill being introduced by Sen. Grassley aimed at boosting the federal onshore royalty rate from 12.5% to 18.75%
With the 2020 Democratic primary raging in the background, the President and his executive agencies were busy in February, releasing a plethora of regulatory updates along with a 2021 budget proposal. Under the President’s budget request, EPA would see a 27% cut, Interior would see a 13% cut, and the Department of Energy would see a 29% cut. EPA also released a new National Water Reuse Action Plan that calls for studies into improved reuse of oil and gas produced water. Additionally, EPA and the Interior Department, among other federal agencies, published a huge regulatory guidance database last week, fulfilling a presidential executive order in October requiring them to post thousands of documents online. Regarding other agencies, the Department of Treasury issued several carbon capture guidelines and the Department of Energy announced it is looking to extend export authorizations for several LNG facilities, something Senate Democrats have since vowed to push back on strongly. Additionally, year-end figures for U.S. production on federal lands and waters in 2019 were released last month, clocking in at over 1 billion barrels.