The House and Senate are heading into their annual month-long district work periods, commonly known as “August recess.” The House began their district work period on July 30, and the Senate is scheduled to go into recess August 6. Both chambers will reconvene in September. There is plenty of unfinished business affecting the energy industry. Below is an overview of what lawmakers are doing, and what will likely be high priority when Congress returns in September.
Infrastructure Bill: The Senate is currently considering an infrastructure bill that includes funding for energy projects such as carbon capture, and the clean-up of orphaned wells. Senate leadership is eager to pass this bill before the August recess, however the House will need to pass its own version in September. A full analysis of what is included in the Senate Infrastructure legislation can be found here.
CLEAN Future Act: The Biden Administration’s primary legislation addressing climate change, the CLEAN Future Act, remains in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This bill includes potential regulatory changes that would affect oil and gas permitting and management of waste. The Committee has held more than 10 hearings on the measure, but there is no sign a vote on this legislation is imminent.
Clean Energy for America Act: On May 26, the Senate Finance Committee passed the Clean Energy for America Act out of committee. This legislation addresses energy industry-specific taxes and incentives by denying access to business provisions available to all industries. The bill targets cost-recovery mechanisms, such as the intangible drilling costs (IDCs) tax provision and removes access to “CARES Act” funding. The measure will not be taken up by the Senate before August recess, however the Council continues to monitor its progress as these provisions would have major impacts on the energy sector.
Administration and Regulatory Activity
Review of Federal Lands Oil and Gas Leasing Program: Lawmakers from both parties are pressuring the Biden Administration to release its review of the federal oil and gas leasing program and end the moratorium on new leases on federal lands. While a judge has ruled the pause on lease sales is not legal, the Department of Interior has yet to hold a lease sale since that a judge ruled on June 15 that the pause on lease sales is not legal. On August 3, the Biden Administration announced a similar review of the oil and gas leasing program on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). This will likely follow a similar process, which includes a two-month public comment period followed by an environmental review that could run until early 2022.
Executive Branch Nominations: The Senate is considering several of President Biden’s nominees to positions overseeing programs that regulate the energy industry. Perhaps the most relevant appointee awaiting confirmation is Tracy Stone-Manning to be Director of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the federal government’s onshore oil and gas program.
In the queue are nominees for positions at the Department of Interior, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. If confirmed, these individuals will have authority to manage regulations, permitting and allocation of grants and other federal funding to the energy industry.
The Council will continue to monitor all legislative and regulatory action through the August recess and into the next legislative session in September.
If you are interested in the Council’s advocacy efforts or would like to join the Government Affairs Committee, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.
Deidre Kohlrus, Director Government Affairs, writes about industry-specific policies for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, Council activities and more.