Week Ahead

Climate Week Ahead

Advocates Press Banks On Carbon Funding, Senate Mulls Budget Bill

December 13, 2021

Environmental groups are ramping up their scrutiny of banks’ financing of carbon-intensive projects and pressing the Biden administration to curb such activity, while Senate Democrats continue consideration of their budget “reconciliation” package with over $550 billion in climate investments.

Carbon Financing

The Center for American Progress and Sierra Club are hosting a Dec. 14 event to unveil new research showing “the enormous size of carbon emissions financed by the largest banks and asset managers in the United States” and discuss steps the Biden administration can take to “curtail this problem before the carbon bubble bursts.”

Scheduled speakers include Securities & Exchange Commission member Caroline Crenshaw (D), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

Progressive lawmakers on Capitol Hill in September floated legislation that would require the Federal Reserve and other regulators to oversee bank plans to phase out greenhouse gas emissions tied to their financing.

The bill, among other things, would require banks to submit plans to the Fed so that by 2030 they achieve a 50 percent reduction in their financed emissions -- a measure of a banks’ GHG emissions across their portfolios including their investing and lending. They would have to achieve a 100 percent cut by 2050.

Background Reading: Democrats Seek To Force Fed To Clamp Down On Banks’ Fossil Fuel Finance

Budget Legislation

The Senate is resuming consideration of Democrats’ budget reconciliation legislation with major climate-related spending. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he hopes to complete a series of meetings this week with the chamber’s parliamentarian to determine if the bill’s provisions comply with the Senate’s arcane reconciliation rules.

Schumer has said he hopes the Senate can pass its version of the bill before Christmas, but some Hill observers are suggesting that deadline could slip amid continued negotiations over several elements of the bill including incentives for electric vehicles and a proposed fee on the oil and gas sector’s methane emissions.

Background Reading: Amid Doubts, Senate Democrats Vow Climate Bill Passage This Month

Electric Vehicles

The Electrification Coalition and Securing America’s Energy Future are jointly hosting a Dec. 14 webinar titled, New Federal Funding for EVs: Opportunities for Transportation Electrification Funding in Federal Infrastructure Legislation. The event is intended to provide information about how the agencies plan to spend EV funds contained in the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

Speakers include Andrew Wishnia, deputy assistant secretary for climate policy at the Department of Transportation, Karl Simon, director of EPA’s Transportation & Climate Division, and Michael Berube, deputy assistant secretary for sustainable transportation in the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

Background Reading: DOT Seeks Input For Implementing Infrastructure Law EV Charger Funds

FERC Meeting

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) holds its monthly opening meeting Dec. 16. It will be the first meeting featuring newly confirmed Commissioner Willie Phillips, whose addition to the panel gives Democrats a 3-2 majority for the first time under the Biden administration.

Low-Carbon Investments

The Washington Post is hosting a Dec. 13 event to discuss “how green energy investments impact manufacturing, business development and international trade.” Scheduled speakers include Kelly Speakes-Backman, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Energy Department’s EERE office, as well as venture capitalist John Doerr.

In addition, the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University Law School and the Environmental Defense Fund are hosting a Dec. 16 webinar “about conflicts and consensus building around energy policy decisions and infrastructure projects, including solar and wind energy production projects, pipelines, and transmission lines.”

Nuclear Energy

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance is hosting a Dec. 15 webinar on efforts to promote “efficient” licensing reviews of advanced nuclear reactors by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to “enable rapid decarbonization” of the power sector.

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