Proponents of the natural gas, oil and renewable energy sectors all found something to like about a $2.3 trillion omnibus spending and coronavirus relief package passed late Monday by the House and Senate.

Infrastructure

The American Petroleum Institute (API) praised legislators for including several provisions from Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) American Energy Innovation Act, including parts of two bipartisan bills to promote carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

“We commend the bipartisan group of lawmakers who have moved this legislation one step closer to becoming law and who understand the important role of advancing innovation and technology in addressing the risk of climate change,” said API’s Stephen Comstock, vice president of corporate policy.

He added, “We urge the president to swiftly sign this bill into law, and we encourage the next Congress and incoming administration to continue to focus on bipartisan climate solutions like CCUS, which can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from multiple industry sectors and sources and that help build on the progress the natural gas and oil industry is making in improving environmental performance.”

The spending package also greenlights the bipartisan Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act (PIPES ACT) of 2020, an update of the PIPES Act of 2016 signed into law by President Obama.

The original legislation was championed by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

The PIPES Act is aimed at improving safety and curbing methane emissions from the U.S. pipeline network through modernization and strengthening of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

The PIPES Act “has been years in the making,” said API’s Robin Rorick, vice president of midstream and industry operations, who added that the Act “takes important steps to ensure the safety of our nation’s pipeline system for communities and the environment.”

Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) CEO Amy Andryszak applauded the PIPES Act passing as well, saying it will “provide PHMSA with the necessary resources to continue its important work overseeing our nation’s pipeline infrastructure.

“New funding for our nation’s pipeline safety program and updates to PHMSA’s regulations to reflect the latest technologies and practices will both enhance safety and benefit the environment.”

The PIPES Act has been amended since its introduction in order to further reduce methane emissions from transportation infrastructure, and provide PHMSA new rulemaking and inspection resources, INGAA said. 

Key provisions of the PIPES Act include updates to PHMSA’s methane leak detection and repair regulations; increased funding for state and federal pipeline safety regulatory agencies; modernized safety regulations for liquefied natural gas export facilities; and strengthened safety regulations for local gas distribution systems.

Renewable energy advocates, meanwhile, praised legislators for extending emergency relief measures for the renewable energy industry.

These measures include “a two-year extension of the investment tax credit (important for solar power), a one-year extension of the production tax credit (important for wind power), and a new 30% investment tax credit for offshore wind projects that start construction through 2025,” said The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

The group’s CEO, Gregory Wetstone, said that about 13% of the clean energy workforce is out of a job this holiday season due to Covid-19.

Extending the relief measures “is a bipartisan vote of support for the renewable energy industry and the hundreds of thousands of Americans building our clean energy future,” Wetstone said. 

American Clean Power Association CEO Heather Zichal called the bipartisan agreement “a major win for American energy consumers, providing more opportunities for them to receive reliable, zero-arbon, and pollution-free electricity in their local communities.”

Of the $2.3 trillion total, $900 billion is designated for direct coronavirus aid, while the remaining $1.4 trillion will fund the government through next September.