The bill’s introduction comes as infrastructure legislation is seen as the best chance to take big steps on climate action — though many expect a $3.5 trillion Democratic-only package to include more expansive measures to address climate change.
Here are five big energy and environment topics tackled in the bipartisan bill.
Climate-focused transportation, but not necessarily emission-free
The bill contains $7.5 billion for clean energy school buses and ferries, but only a portion of that will go toward zero-emission vehicles.
The measure also includes funding for vehicles running on fuels like natural gas that are less carbon-intensive than gasoline and diesel fuels, but still contribute to climate-warming emissions.
According to a fact sheet from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, $2.5 billion will be allocated for zero-emissions school buses and another $2.5 billion will go toward both zero-emissions buses and others that run on “alternative fuels,” which include some fossil fuels and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions: liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, propane and biofuels.
The remaining $2.5 billion would go toward replacing ferries with electric and “low-emitting” ferries or reducing emissions on existing ferries.
The legislation defines low-emitting ferries as those that run predominantly on methanol, denatured ethanol and related fuels but mixed with gasoline, natural gas, liquified petroleum gas, hydrogen, other biofuels or electricity.
The legislation also includes $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers. A source involved with the bill said that $5 billion of that amount would be provided by the federal government and would be distributed to states to spend on EV charging.
Cleaner power from sources other than renewables
The legislation aims to boost various forms of energy, including nuclear energy and fossil fuels where carbon emissions are captured using technology — but has fewer provisions for renewable sources like solar power.
It would aim to boost nuclear power through a program seeking to keep nuclear reactors in operation. The program would get $6 billion between 2022 and 2026.
Separately, it would give financial and technical assistance to entities to determine suitable locations for microreactors, small modular reactors and advanced nuclear reactors in isolated communities.
To boost carbon capture, which uses still-developing technology to capture emissions from activities such as burning fossil fuels, the legislation would provide loans and implement grants for states, local government and public utilities.
The legislation would also seek to promote hydrogen power, in which hydrogen electrons go through a circuit and create electricity. It would create a research and development program and identify…
Read More: Five key energy components of the bipartisan infrastructure bill