Energy and environmental news roundup: stimulus package leaves out key energy, environmental provisions

State clean energy bills, plastic bag bans on hold

March 27, 2020

This is an excerpt from CSG East’s weekly energy and environmental news update, which summarizes top policy developments for members. Please email if you would like to receive the full update in your inbox each week. 

interior of U.S. capitol

Interior of U.S. Capitol Building. Credit: Rona Cohen

The U.S. House today passed a historic $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, which will send aid to businesses, workers, and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation allocates $150 billion to state and local governments to help replace lost revenue and to cover increased expenditures.

The massive stimulus bill, which the Senate unanimously approved on Wednesday night, does not include several provisions sought by the energy industry and environmentalists.

Here is an overview of the energy provisions that did not make it into the final bill:

  • Language was nixed that would have forced U.S. airlines getting a bailout to halve their carbon emissions over the next 30 years and start offsetting those emissions in 2025.
  • The package does not include the tax credit extensions sought by the wind and solar industries to help them weather the supply-chain and economic disruptions caused by the global pandemic.
  • The deal struck a provision that would have provided $100 million over five years for research and development of more sustainable aviation fuels.
  • Also omitted from the final language was a plan to spend $3 billion to purchase roughly 77 million barrels of oil for the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

See: Bloomberg (3/25); Associated Press (3/26); Greentech Media (3/25)

In Brief:

State Energy Bills Face Uncertain Future: As state lawmakers shift priorities to address the pandemic and legislative sessions are delayed or postponed, progress has been paused on many climate and energy bills. This piece from Utility Dive discusses delays on key measures in five states, including Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Plastic Bag Bans on Hold: States including Maine and Massachusetts have paused their bans on plastic bags, which have found new life due to their perceived cleanliness amid the current coronavirus crisis.

Air Quality Improves: Given the halt in economic activity and travel, a key air pollution indicator is down 18% in the New York metro region over the first 22 days of March compared to the same time period last year, meaning that residents of the area who manage to get outdoors could see the cleanest air in their lifetimes.

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