McKinley, Schrader float draft clean energy standard

Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) are plotting a bipartisan clean energy standard bill that would also invest heavily in carbon capture and offer new incentives for renewables and nuclear, according to draft legislation circulating on Capitol Hill.

The bill, planned for formal introduction in November, is one of the most significant bipartisan efforts to address climate change in years, even if it has little near-term chance of passing through Congress.

The pair initially announced the legislation earlier this year, pitching it as a compromise and an alternative to ideas like a carbon tax or the Green New Deal that have failed to gain traction among Republicans.

The discussion draft offers new insight into the proposal, though the basic tenets remain the same as when McKinley and Schrader first announced the legislation in January.

It would enact a clean energy standard to reduce power-sector carbon emissions 80% by 2050 in exchange for a suspension of Clean Air Act greenhouse gas regulations for fossil fuel power plants.

The standard would be carried out via a system of credits that would allow utilities to trade if they do not have an adequate amount of clean energy in their generation mix.

Each year, generators with a carbon intensity less than 0.825 metric ton per megawatt-hour would be issued credits that go toward the standard.

The draft bill would also authorize billions for research on carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies.

And notably, it would extend the investment tax credit to nuclear power plants and offer new incentives for energy storage and advanced renewables.

Some of those ideas won't go over well with progressive environmentalists, who generally oppose carbon capture and nuclear, and it's not clear how far they'll get with the GOP, which has in recent years labeled anything remotely resembling climate policy as the Green New Deal.

Still, it's a rare glimpse of middle ground on climate policy that avoids the trappings of a carbon tax, and it comes from a coal-state lawmaker in McKinley, who frequently defends fossil fuels during Energy and Commerce hearings.

"I think we have an issue that needs to be addressed," McKinley told E&E News earlier this year (E&E Daily, Jan. 31). "If we do it as a partisan manner, it's going to go nowhere."

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