WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Environmental groups say the energy provisions in the debt ceiling deal are a step back for decarboninzation, while proponents are hailing it as a fair compromise that will ensure energy access.
Natalie Mebane of Green Peace said the deal, which was signed over the weekend, undercuts historic investments that President Joe Biden signed into law last year.
“This was a bad deal for the American people,” she said. “(It) very much undoes a lot of the progress that he’s made as president towards clean energy. … Two steps forward, three steps back.”
The bill cuts red tape for both clean and traditional energy projects, which would allow them to move forward more quickly. Mebane called it a gift to polluters.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who got a controversial pipeline included in the deal, called it a fair compromise.
“Now what we can do is basically make sure that we’re able to get the pipelines and the delivery system we need for clean fossil all over this country,” Manchin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” over the weekend.
“This is going to help us increase the affordable, reliable and safe access to American energy,” Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said.
But Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., who leads Democrats’ Climate Solutions Caucus, said the deal is disappointing.
“It’s a significant concern and I voiced that concern to the White House,” he said.
He said the deal does little to speed up the construction of transmission lines, which are essential for expanding wind and solar energy. A study (PDF) out of Princeton University said failing to speed up transmission expansion from the current rate of 1% yearly will increase the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 800 million tons annually through 2030.
The debt ceiling deal requires only more research on expanding transmission.
“(It) would spend the next three years studying a problem we already know the answer to,” Casten said. “We don’t have three years to wait to decarbonize. The folks who would love to stop paying for electric for their solar panel or would love to get their community access to cheaper geothermal, those people don’t want to wait three years in higher energy bills.”
Casten said he will promote separate legislation to bridge the gap.