Whitehouse Cheers HFC Agreement, Renewable Incentives, & Other Environmental Breakthroughs in Omnibus Funding Bill
Expanded suite of federal incentives will boost offshore wind and solar energy and HFCs agreement could avoid 0.5°C of warming by end of the century
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, cheered passage of the omnibus government funding package that contains several pieces of significant bipartisan climate legislation, an HFC agreement, and expanded incentives for renewable energy. These measures will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Provisions championed by Whitehouse will help encourage investment in wind and solar energy, streamline the adoption of new clean energy technologies, and establish a new federal program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry.
“This funding bill will help accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy,” said Whitehouse. “There are many important provisions in this legislation, including one that will reduce HFCs—one of the more potent greenhouse gases out there—perhaps helping us avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century. We are running out of time in the fight against climate change, which is why we need to press forward on every front we can. I am proud to have worked with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to get this legislation passed. ”
Whitehouse’s environmental priorities that will be signed into law with the omnibus include:
- Offshore Wind Incentives for New Development (WIND) Act: Whitehouse’s Offshore WIND Act will extend the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for offshore wind through 2025. The bill is also sponsored by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) in the Senate and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) in the House. The Energy Department has found that the United States could install a total of 22,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects by 2030 and 86,000 MW by 2050, creating tens of thousands of jobs in coastal communities along the Atlantic Coast. The nation’s first offshore wind project at Block Island, Rhode Island began operations in 2016 and is now producing enough electricity each year to power 17,000 homes.
- The American Manufacturing and Innovation (AIM) Act: The bill will implement a 15-year phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) at the national level for the first time. The amendment requires the Environmental Protection Agency to implement an 85 percent phasedown of HFCs, reducing production and import of HFCs to no more than 15 percent of the 2011-2013 average by 2036.
- Clean Industrial Technology Act (CITA): With Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Whitehouse has championed the CITA to unleash innovation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources and making American companies more competitive in the global economy. The bill helps address the roughly 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that come from hard-to-reduce industrial sources, including heavy road and rail transport, shipping, aviation, chemical production, steel and cement production, and heat production.
- Extensions of wind and solar tax credits: One-year extension of wind Production Tax Credit for 2021 and a two-year extension of solar Investment Tax Credit through 2022.
- Carbon capture tax credit: Whitehouse’s 45Q Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) Tax Credit Amendments Act of 2020 will update a key tax credit enacted in 2018 to encourage investment in carbon capture projects, including direct air capture. The legislation is also sponsored by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Whitehouse previously authored legislation passed into law in 2018 to strengthen the incentive, helping put a value on reducing carbon pollution.
- Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act: The USE IT Act, sponsored by Whitehouse and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), expands carbon utilization and direct air capture research. The bill also supports federal, state, and non-governmental collaboration in the construction and development of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) facilities and carbon dioxide pipelines.
- Creation of new fund to remediate ocean plastic pollution: $75 million for ocean plastic and marine debris remediation, including the creation of a new fund to finance the reduction and prevention of marine debris across the world.
- Increased funding for Whitehouse’s Coastal Fund: The legislation includes $34 million for the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund, a $1 million increase above FY20 funding levels. Whitehouse created the Fund to restore and strengthen the natural infrastructure protecting coastal communities.
- Increased funding for climate research: The omnibus includes $182 million for NOAA climate research, a 7 percent increase above FY20, and a direction for NOAA to consider a new cooperative institute related to climate adaptation.
- Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): The final bill, commonly referred to as the WRDA bill, authorizes programs and projects within the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Program to improve America’s water infrastructure. Among its many provisions, the bill seeks to improve resiliency against worsening extreme weather events, including enhanced flood and storm protection for communities.
- Technology Transition Act: Whitehouse and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Technology Transition Act to commercialize new technologies developed by the Department of Energy that promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill creates a new high-level mission for DOE to focus on climate change and emission reduction and elevates the office of technology transitions into the Secretary’s office to advance the commercialization of technologies that reduce emissions.
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