Deb Haaland, the secretary of the interior, defends the administration’s leasing policies, and Texans are once more urged to practice energy conservation. Congressional Democrats are pushing for an agreement on climate funding before the August session.
As Democrats aim for the climate pact, inflation is a barrier.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has restated his worries about Democrats’ overall spending plan, and they are frantically trying to salvage a deal on climate change through reconciliation.
The Democrats’ appeal comes as their window for an agreement closes after a few weeks away from Washington. They stated this past week that they are trying to persuade Manchin to support a package of tax credits for clean energy and a price on methane emissions.
However, a fresh study on inflation released on Wednesday calls their efforts into question.
Legislators have been discussing a package for months that aims to reduce prescription drug costs, impose taxes on the wealthy, and limit emissions that contribute to global warming.
Tom Carper, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, revealed to reporters on Tuesday that he and Manchin are still working on a plan to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.
A “fairly decent deal” had been struck between the two parties a few months prior, he claimed, adding, “We’re looking at it now, adjusting it a little bit.”
Carper stated on Tuesday that he was “encouraged” and thought a compromise could be struck.
The White House is reportedly mulling another strategy to win Manchin’s support: approving fossil fuel projects, according to a Wednesday morning story in The Washington Post.
The Biden administration is reportedly considering permitting additional drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a sizable project in Alaska, as well as a pipeline that passes through West Virginia, according to The Post.
A fresh assessment revealed that annual inflation reached 9.1 percent in June, which forced Manchin to put a stop to negotiations and declare that the legislation “has to be cleaned much better.”
The prescription medication reform portion of the plan, which has already been forwarded to the Senate parliamentarian’s office and has the support of all 50 members of the Democratic caucus, is what Joe Manchin told reporters on Wednesday he’s not sure if he can agree to.
He told reporters, “We know what we can pass is basically the medication pricing on Medicare, OK.” Do we have any other options? I’m not sure, but I’m being really cautious.
And I’m going to make sure I get every opinion on removing anything that might be construed as controversial, he declared.
Haaland defends the Interior and points to unutilized leases
At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland praised the Biden administration’s achievements in federal fossil fuel leasing while highlighting the industry’s underused leases on federal lands.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) questioned Haaland about the probability that the administration would hold zero lease sales, which the plan specifies as an option, and cited a recent five-year leasing proposal released by the Interior Department.
Haaland did not provide an estimate, just promising a “balanced approach” and said the department would take into account comments from the public made during the 90-day public comment period.
What about drilling in the ocean? When Hyde-Smith inquired further about offshore drilling, Haaland replied, “There are now around 9,000 approved drilling permits across the country that are not being used, and 10.4 million acres of offshore federal seas already under lease.”
In order to advance any of these concerns, she continued, “I realize there are many factors that go into consideration with the price of fuel, but I want to assure you that at the Department of Interior, we’re doing our duties and respecting the law.
President Biden issued an executive order in January 2021 that temporarily halted new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and production problems have contributed to today’s high gas prices, but the administration has regularly highlighted the number of empty leases as a justification for its energy policy in response to criticism.
Texas receives a second request for power conservation
Just two days after issuing a similar warning for Monday, the grid operator for the Lone Star State advised Texans to voluntarily conserve electricity on Wednesday during a significant heat wave.
In a “conservation plea,” the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) urged customers to use less electricity from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The petition from Monday claimed, “record high electric demand” and insufficient wind to run turbines.
The appeal filed on Wednesday adds two new issues: cloud cover decreasing West Texas solar capacity and a number of forced thermal power outages “exceeding ERCOT projections.”
ERCOT reported that Texans who complied with the request on Monday lowered energy use by 500 megawatts by lowering temperatures and not using large appliances.
Beto O’Rourke, a candidate for governor of Texas, has made the state’s electricity system one of his main issues in his campaign against Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
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