Welcome to Friday’s Night Energy & Environment,Your source for the most recent news on energy, the environment, and beyond. Subscribe here thehill.com/newsletter-signup.
Today we are looking at Biden splitting solar panel tariffs. The Biden administration taking Native American Tribes’ side in a mining dispute. Also, a key Democrat following-up on the EPA’s questions regarding the postal service.
Let’s get started.
Biden extends solar rates, with modifications
President BidenThe Trump-era solar cell tariffs will be extended. However, there are some exemptions that a bipartisan group composed of senators demanded in January. This was confirmed by the White House Friday.
According to the White House announcement, the Biden administration will extend Section 201 tariffs that cover solar panels and cells for an additional four years rather than allowing them to expire Sunday. However, the extension will not apply to double-sided bifacial solar panel, which are commonly used in larger utility installation. It will also increase the amount of solar cells that are eligible for duty-free import from 2.5 gigawatts up to 5.
The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), an industry opponent of tariffs, gave measured praise for the announcement, calling it a balanced solution.
“While we are disappointed by the decision to extend Section 201 tariffs for imported solar cells and panel, we are grateful that the Biden administration clearly considered the range of issues affected,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA CEO, said in a statement. “Administration officials came up with a balanced solution, which included keeping bifacial panels out of the tariff and increasing the cell tariff rate quota.”
George Hershman is the CEO of SOLV energy, the largest utility-scale sunshade installer in the U.S. He also praised the bifacial panel exemption, and stated that more policy assistance was needed, such as solar tax credits.
“Instead of creating barriers to renewable energy deployment, the Solar Industry needs an Investment Tax Credit that will strengthen U.S. manufacturing and help us build brighter futures. Hershman released a statement saying that she looks forward to working together with the Biden Administration towards that vision.
COMPETITIVENESS BILL PASSES
Friday’s House vote approved legislation that aims to boost domestic supply chains as well as scientific research to make America more competitive with other countries like China.
The bill was passed largely along party lines (222-210), with one Republican voting in favor and one Democrat voting against it.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who supported the bill, wrote numerous provisions related to boosting supply chain. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., who voted “no”, stated in a statement that she objected “problematic, poorly-vetted” provisions related to trade.
The Senate passed the legislation seven months after it had approved its June version with the support of 18 GOP senators.
So…now what? Both chambers will now have the task of reconciling their competing versions and eventually reach an agreement that draws at least 10 Republicans from the evenly divided upper chamber. The agreement will be subjected to Senate rules, which require at least 60 votes for most legislation.
The legislative package contains measures to address the global shortage of semiconductor chips and strains in the U.S. supply chains, both of which have contributed greatly to the recent rise in inflation.
The $52 billion is to be used to encourage domestic production of semiconductor chips. In addition, the Department of Commerce will provide $45 billion in grants or loans to support and enhance domestic manufacturing facilities.
It would also increase funding for science research at National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. In addition, it would invest in people to work in science, technology engineering and math.
Additionally, the House legislation contains additional energy and environment-related provisions.
For two years, $4 billion in annual contributions to UN’s Green Climate Fund. This fund helps developing countries adapt to climate changes.
A new Energy Department program that grants loans and grants for solar energy facilities. It will be funded by $600 million each year.
For five years, $ 75 million annually to secure the electric grid
Reauthorization of coral reef protections
Interior sides with tribes involved in mineral dispute
The Biden administration ruled that the contested minerals under a portion of Missouri River belonged not to the state of North Dakota but to three tribes.
The Interior Department solicitor Bob Anderson’s legal opinion on Friday supporting the three tribes is a departure from the Trump administration which had previously backed North Dakota’s claims for the materials.
What did he have to say? Anderson released a statement saying that his decision today “upholds decades of precedent holding the Missouri riverbed belonged to the Mandan (Hidatsa) and Arikara(MHA) Nation.”
He said, “Today’s action, which was based on extensive legal and historical review, underscores that the Department’s commitment is to uphold its trust and treaty obligations in compliance with the law.”
This is not the only time that the administration has indicated that they would follow this approach. It did this last year. A Trump-era legal opinion was withdrawnThey sided with North Dakota.
Friday’s action, however, shows that the Biden administration isn’t just withdrawing support from North Dakota but is also supporting the claims made by the three tribes.
Anderson cited an 1851 treaty as well as subsequent executive orders that stated that the territory of the tribes was around the Missouri River.
Both MHA Nation (North Dakota) and North Dakota tried to claim rights to the mineral resources. The Trump-era opinion, which sided against the state, had argued North Dakota had mineral rights due to a legal doctrine that gives new states who join the union the same rights that the original 13 states.
Senator presses Postal Service to discuss EV plans
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman pressed Postmaster General Louis DeJoyFor information on the progress of electrification in the U.S., click here Friday was the last day of operation for the Postal Service’s vehicle fleet, following a similar request from Environmental Protection Agency.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) (D-Del. )The Postal Service has an “excellent opportunity” to lead the federal government’s transition into electric vehicles. The agency was asked to complete a Supplemental Emission Statement for vehicle purchases.
From Carper’s mouth: “Recent communications from the EPA/CEQ have raised grave concerns in my mind.” [White House Council on Environmental Quality]Carper stated that the USPS Environmental Impact Statement for Next Generation Delivery Vehicles is a flawed analysis that underestimates long-term costs of operating and maintaining gasoline-powered vehicles and overestimates the costs associated with purchasing and charging electric delivery vans.
The Delaware Democrat expressed concern that the plan would reduce Postal Service’s competitiveness compared with the private sector. He also pointed out that Rivian has signed a contract with Amazon to receive 100,000 electric delivery trucks. FedEx plans to purchase tens of thousands more electric vehicles by 2030 with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2040.
This is the story so far Wednesday was Wednesday for both the EPA as the CEQ. They sent letters to DeJoy (a long-time donor to the former). President TrumpDeJoy to cancel the planned purchase up to 165,000 gas-powered Postal Service vehicles. Vicki Arroyo, EPA Associate Administrator for Policies, noted in the letter how DeJoy’s plan would only require 10% of new Postal Service trucks be electrified.
She wrote that a ten percent commitment to clean vehicles with virtually no fuel efficiency gains in the other 90 per cent is clearly inconsistent with international, state, and many state GHG emission reduction targets as well as specific national policies for moving with deliberate speed towards clean, zero-emitting cars.
ON TAP FOR THE NEXT WOKE
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will reexamineLaura Daniel-Davis was nominated to be Interior’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management. He will also examine his choices to lead the Energy Information Administration’s Office of Electricity and the Energy Department’s Office of Electricity.
The House Oversight Committee will host a HearExamining Big Oil’s Climate Promises
The House Natural Resources Committee will host a HearTitle: “Justice. Equity. Diversity. And Inclusion in Environmental Policy Making: Role of Environmental Organizations/Grantmaking Foundations
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee) will hold a HearOn the implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act 2020, a public lands law. The Interior and Agriculture departments officials will testify.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will host a HearLooking at bills on nuclear waste and nuclear energy.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Senators of Nebraska are considering a bill to give regulators more authority to order environmental cleanup sooner (Scottsbluff Star-Herald)
Amazon fires raise alarm about deforestationReuters)
Maryland’s environment is “outraged” by Back River pollution findingsKPVI)
Inside Regan’s meeting (PDF)E&E News)
Finally, something a little offbeat and unorthodox: What’s in the name?
This concludes today’s post. We appreciate your reading. Visit The Hill’s website. Energy & Environment pageGet the latest news and coverage. We will see you Monday.