Can Congress still approve some of Biden’s climate ideas this year?

President Biden, from the election campaign to his first year in office, has declared himself a climate leader.

Hey I promise reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and aimed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Both goals are key to avoiding the most disastrous effects of climate change, according to the latest UN climate report.

It’s been months since Biden’s $ 1.7 trillion Build Back Better plan stalled on Capitol Hill, including an unprecedented $ 555 billion to move the nation away from fossil fuels and to clean energy.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia refused to approve the deal in December, depriving Democrats of the vote they needed in a 50-50 Senate.

Manchin has since indicated support for moving forward some provisions of the broad package, including green energy policies, prescription drugs, a tax on the rich and the country’s debt.

This leaves open the possibility of a streamlined version of the legislation, if lawmakers can act soon.

“We don’t have much time. May is a defining month for the US Senate on this issue,” said Jamal Raad, executive director of Evergreen Action, a climate action advocacy group. “We all know that legislation dies in the summer heat, and therefore this period of work is really important and a real test of leadership for [Senate Majority] boss [Charles E.] Schumer and the President on the possibility of taking these climate investments beyond the finish line. ”

Here are some of the key climate-related provisions of the Build Back Better plan and which ones they may still have a chance to pass.

Workers install solar panels that will generate 5 kilowatts of energy in a home in Los Angeles.

Workers install solar panels that will generate 5 kilowatts of energy in a home in Los Angeles.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Green Energy Tax Credits

The weight of Build Back Better’s climate investments was in tax credits to incentivize the shift to green energy. The bill allocated $ 320 billion in tax credits to producers and buyers of wind, solar and nuclear power.

According to the rhodium group, clean energy tax credits are key to making Biden’s 2030 goal a reality. For the most part, the tax credits pool has the backing of many senators, including Manchin, who may promise a political path forward. According to a Democratic Senate staff member, if any Build Back Better climate-related provisions advance, these are likely to be.

“These are pretty well established. These tax credits, however, have traditionally had quite substantial support, particularly in states that produce a lot of renewable energy, and many of them have been more moderate or conservative, “said Barry Rabe, University of Michigan professor Gerald. R. Ford School of Public Policy. “So I think the energy tax credit is somehow probably still on the table.”

methane fee

A provision in the Build Back Better Act would have imposed a tax on methane emitted by oil and natural gas systems. The proposal would cover the entire supply chain and the revenue from it would be used to administer the program, assist companies in monitoring and reducing emissions, and support communities affected by pollution from oil and gas systems.

A methane tax may not go ahead (although some experts have called it crucial for reducing global warming emissions). Manchin has indicated a reluctance to penalize the fossil fuel industry, and progressives have previously criticized the policy as too permissive.

“Methane has gained increasing attention in recent years due to its very intense short-term impact. … It is a source of climate warming, it is a source of air pollution, “Rabe said.

Build Back Better’s attempt to impose a fee on methane also required defining how to measure it, “which was a huge problem or challenge. I don’t know internal affairs, but it looks like it would be a real effort at this point, ”Rabe said.

Discount on electric vehicles

Build Back Better included a discount for electric vehicle buyers of up to $ 12,500 in tax credits. The discount applied only to vehicles manufactured in a union factory in the United States.

This is unlikely to go on, like Manchin recently, last month, he called the program “ridiculous,”Stating that there is already a waiting list for people who want electric vehicles. “When we can’t make enough products for the people who want it and will still pay them to get it, it’s absolutely ridiculous in my mind.”

He also opposed the union-only provision.

Carbon capture technology

Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has invested billions in carbon capture projects or technologies to remove CO2 emissions from the air.

The Build Back Better Act attempted to invest even more in carbon capture projects. They are missing has reported support for that technologyoffering a potential path forward on the issue.

Some criticize carbon capture projects for being too expensive and unreliablewhile others say they are a crucial element in the fight against the climate crisis.