After a brief government shutdown, the second in three weeks, compromise-minded lawmakers steered a two-year, $400 billion spending bill through Congress early Friday and passed it along to President Trump, who signed it.
HR 1892, aka the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, extends several tax breaks for the energy industry. The bill passed the Senate on a 71-28 vote, with 36 Democrats joining 34 Republicans and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) in support. Sixteen Republicans, 11 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) voted against the bill.
Four hours later, HR 1892 also cleared the House, 240-186. The bill garnered strong bipartisan support, with 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats voting in favor of the bill, while 67 Republicans and 119 Democrats were against it.
The bill funds the federal government for the next two fiscal years. It was unclear what the specific allocations were to the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Under the sweeping budget deal, several tax breaks designed to boost energy production and conservation were extended, including credits for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property; new qualified fuel cell motor vehicles; second generation biofuel producers; and biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund financing rate was also extended.
The bill also calls on the DOE secretary to sell 100 million bbl of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (SPR-A) over a six-year period. Specifically, 30 million bbl are to be sold between fiscal years (FY) 2022-2025, and 35 million bbl in both FY 2026 and FY 2027. Proceeds from the sales are to go into the federal treasury.
The energy industry had mixed reactions to passage of the budget deal.
NGVAmerica President Daniel Gage lauded the extension of the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit for natural gas vehicles, as well as the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Tax Credit for natural gas refueling stations, retroactively for 2017.
By extending the tax credits, Congress demonstrated "how important clean technology natural gas vehicles are to growing our economy, improving our air quality, and enhancing our energy security while reducing our carbon footprint,” Gage said. NGVAmerica plans to "continue working with Congressional leaders to extend these proven clean air investment incentives for 2018 and beyond."
However, American Alliance’s Kenny Stein, policy director, criticized Republicans for supporting the budget deal. "This is just disappointing," he said. "The members of the majority party were voted into power because they criticized out-of-control spending in Washington.” He added that the deal "revives, and even expands, a whole host of special tax provisions that subsidize things like biodiesel, wind, nuclear, carbon capture technologies, and so on...
"Sticking future generations with the bill for today's subsidies is wrong. A few short years ago, the majority party seemed to understand that."