The Senate’s bipartisan energy bill continues to be a focal point of legislative debate on Capitol Hill. After a long standstill due to disagreements on how best to address the water crisis in Flint, MI, progress came after a compromise agreement announced by Senator Inhofe (R-OK) and Senator Stabenow (D-MI) regarding Flint. The Flint legislation (H.R. 4470) would strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to notify the public when lead levels in drinking water violate federal standards, and provide $250 million in aid to Flint and other places around the country with contaminated drinking water. A vote on H.R. 4470 would come after work on the energy bill is completed; however a hold on the energy legislation by Senators Lee (R-UT) and Vitter (R-LA) has slowed the process and the Senate Budget Committee has determined that the Flint proposal would increase federal spending and therefore needs to be changed before it can proceed.
While the legislative branch works on the energy bill, the Department of Energy released a report finding that incremental renewable energy capacity driven by the recent tax credit extension is estimated to peak at 53 GW in 2020. Additionally, tax credit extensions are expected to save 540 million metric tons of electric sector CO2 emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, said in a draft report released February 22 that domestic greenhouse gas emissions rose 0.9 percent from 2013 to 2014, with carbon dioxide accounting for 81 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Overall emissions increased by 7.7 percent from 1990 to 2014, according to the draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks.