Schumer to Trump: To get infrastructure deal, make renewable tax credits permanent

Source: By Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive • Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, N.Y., wrote President Donald Trump on Friday to emphasize the importance of fighting climate change in the context of an infrastructure legislative package.
  • Schumer detailed several policies to help fight global warming, including creating permanent tax incentives for battery storage projects and renewable energy generation. He called for more investments in the electric grid, transmission and clean emissions technology, including energy storage, in research, development and deployment.
  • Last week, Trump signaled plans to compromise on the conditions of his proposed $1 trillion infrastructure program, without mentioning climate change. Schumer said the administration’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, released Nov. 23, noted the threat of higher temperatures and higher intensity of storms and natural disasters on U.S. infrastructure.

After winning the majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats have emphasized a push for climate change as part of their 2019 agenda. In his accompanying Washington Post op-ed on Friday, Schumer identified a potential infrastructure deal as one of the party’s first opportunities to press the issue in the next Congress.

Democrats are also pushing for a stimulus package that includes funding for environmental issues and transitioning to zero carbon emissions, known as the Green New Deal. Structuring the policy remains under discussion.

Schumer did not mention the Green New Deal, which recently received support from Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., although he proposed additions to the infrastructure package that would create green jobs.

The top Senate Democrat outlined policies that would address various environmental protection rollbacks by the Trump administration, such as the EPA’s proposed changes to New Source Performance Standards, which could lead to more relaxed limits on greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, according to environmental advocates.

To combat climate change, Schumer also outlined several policies to strengthen critical energy infrastructure and increase the resilience of transportation, water, waste and sewer infrastructure — policies included in a Democrat-led proposal last year for a $1 trillion infrastructure packagefocused on mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Schumer wrote that “any infrastructure package considered in 2019 must include policies and funding to transition to a clean energy economy and mitigate the risks that the United States is already facing due to climate change.”

Trump will need the support of Senate Democrats to pass legislation requiring a supermajority, or 60 votes, and Schumer’s op-ed said the collaboration was contingent on including progressive policies to place the country on a path to clean energy.

In the president’s 2017 infrastructure package, seven of 50 projects focus on the electricity sector, including the addition of up-to 3,000 MW of wind energy in Wyoming and an energy storage and grid modernization project in California, which was already underway.