Report by Jim Collura, NEFI Vice President & Director of Government Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Lawmakers return from a brief weeklong recess today. The House of Representatives will consider veterans affairs and national monument legislation. The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a legislative hearing to consider the “Trillion Trees Act” (H.R.5859). The first of several Republican climate change bills, it would require that 3.3 billion trees be planted each year through 2050 to help sequester carbon from the atmosphere. President Trump supported the “Trillion Trees Initiative” during this year’s State of the Union Address. Democrats say the idea is notable but falls far short of what is needed and are countering with legislation of their own. The committee will also consider bills to require net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from public lands and waters by 2040 (H.R.5435) and to require installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in National Forests and Parks (H.R.3681). The Senate will proceed to pending court nominations this week.
Neal Seeks to Mandate Small Business Retirement Plans
According to Roll Call, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal (D-MA) is working with Senate Republicans on new legislation that requires businesses with 10 or more employees to offer retirement plans and to automatically funnel a portion of workers’ pay into savings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than half of small businesses (50 or fewer employees) offer employee retirement plans. For many smaller businesses, retirement benefits can often be costly and complicated. NEFI will add this to the many issues we are monitoring and keep you updated.
FERC ‘Price Floor’ Decisions Have Major Implications for Northeast Electricity
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted 2-1 on a proposal that sets a price floor for subsidized renewable energy in New York. Price floors, known as Minimum Offer Price Rules, were previously approved for New England and Mid-Atlantic power markets. Republican FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee says these rules create a “level playing field” for fuels in the capacity markets. Environmental groups are calling them bailouts for fossil fuel power generation and fear they will jeopardize renewable electricity mandates in many Northeast states.
Poll: Healthcare & Other Issues Top Climate as Priority for Americans
A new poll from Politico and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds that climate change ranks 11th out of 22 public policy priorities for Americans. The poll comes during an election year in which addressing climate change is a cornerstone issue for the Democratic party. Healthcare was the top concern, with 80% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans ranking “taking steps to lower the cost of health care” as “extremely” or “very” important. Drug prices, education, the federal budget deficit, infrastructure, and tax reform bested climate change as well