Democrats are seeking alternative ways to reduce carbon emissions now that the Clean Electricity Performance Program appears unlikely to be included in their monstrous social spending legislation.
One aide to a congressional Democrat told Axios that lawmakers are trying to find other ways to help make up emissions cuts that the CEPP would have provided.
The Washington Post, basing its report on two people close to the negotiations, said that one idea under consideration would establish a scaled-back voluntary emissions trading system among aluminum, steel, concrete, and chemical manufacturers. The plan would provide federal funding to help companies curb pollution.
Also, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has discussed a carbon tax that would return revenues to the public, Axios reported. But carbon taxes face huge political opposition.
The CEPP was a proposed way to reward utilities that increase their clean energy supply by 4% annually and penalize companies that don’t.
The program, though, drew opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., whose home state depends heavily on coal.
The CEPP, considered an important part of President Joe Biden’s plan to achieve 100% zero-carbon power by 2035, now seems unlikely to be included in the massive social spending and climate legislation that began with a $3.5 trillion price tag.
Negotiations are ongoing to try and reduce the package to around $2 trillion, something progressive lawmakers say they won’t accept.
Climate-friendly power is needed for Biden's wider pledge under the Paris Agreement to cut economy-wide emissions by 50% by 2030, Axios said.
Gutting the wider energy legislation from the bill would make it harder for the U.S. to push other nations at the upcoming U.N. climate summit.
Without the CEPP, Democrats and climate experts alike believe the U.S. is certain to fall far short of Biden's climate goal, the Post reported.
Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said in a recent interview that eliminating the program would undercut the president's pledge to reduce emissions by between 50-52%, compared to 2005 levels, before the end of the decade.
The Post reported that Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan energy and climate policy think tank, found that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would be 250 to 700 million metric tons higher per year in 2030 without CEPP.
"Obviously that would be a very serious blow" to "meeting our 2030 goals," Markey said, the Post reported.
Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan think tank, estimated that power sector emissions in 2030 will be 43% lower than 2005 levels with no policy changes. Tax incentives in the Democrats' plan bump that to 72%, and adding the CEPP increases the total to 81%.
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