Build Back Better Act: What’s in it for Energy?

Posted: November 2, 2021

The Democratic constructed Build Back Better Act is looking to budget almost $2 trillion to address problems in every sector. The energy policies are aggressive and expensive, so here is everything you need to know about this bill while we do our best to play the Devil’s advocate.

Clean Energy Tax Credits – $320B

During the aftermath of the pandemic, US natural exports have seen a large increase. September 2021 was the first time that the US became a net exporter of natural gas via pipeline. Furthermore, the EIA estimates that this month will be the first time that LNG exports will exceed those of pipeline exports.

Resilience Investment – $105B

This portion of the bill goes towards supporting investments and incentives to address extreme weather (wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes), addressing legacy pollution in communities, and reestablishment of a Civilian Climate Corps. Addressing extreme weather is a great idea, but rather than dumping billions of dollars of government money and insurance claims, wouldn’t it be a better idea to encourage people to understand that they are living in a high-risk area? Hurricanes have battered the coasts for decades. Wildfire management has proven to be a struggle. Why keep fronting resources just for them to be destroyed.

Legacy pollution refers to contaminants that have been left in the environment by sources that are no longer discharging them (usually old industry). This is an area of the bill that is hard to refute. Why let acid mine runoff continue to destroy waterways? A lot of these contaminants will simply linger and make life for plants, animals, and humans harder to enjoy. This is a portion of the bill that would be difficult to refute.

Lastly, the Climate Conservation Corps (CCC) was originally created in 1933. The program came as a response to the great depression to put millions of young men back to work creating roads, bridges, dams, telephone lines, and campgrounds. Lots of infrastructure which is still used today. Again, this is a tough one to refute. It can get young people to work in the very way game and fish wardens care for the environment.

Investments and Incentives for Clean Energy Technology, Manufacturing, and Supply Chains – $110B

This one is pretty self-explanatory. As one might expect, it provides an incentive to spur new domestic supply chains and technologies that are much greener than the legacy chains that exist today. This has the problem of increased electrification and resource acquisition that we have already looked at, but the most interesting part of this section targets boosting the competitiveness of existing industrial industries. Steel, cement, and aluminum have been targeted as huge emitters and the government is encouraging them to become more responsible producers. The only problem here is that these commodities are already incredibly expensive if they have not risen in price already. Adding increased costs to production will likely just compound inflation effects especially when these industries are absolutely necessary to green infrastructure development.

Clean Energy Procurement – $20B

The Act requires that more of all government facility energy consumption come from renewable sources by 2025. This would be a massive shift from our current policy. In 2005, just 3% of Federal energy consumption came from renewable sources, meaning there is a lot of room to grow on green tech. By 2050, 80% of U.S. electricity should come from renewables and nuclear power. This aggressive policy would make sense to support, but $20B seems a little small to support the thousands of government properties across the nation, especially to reach that targeted 80%. The specific technologies targeted in the bill’s literature include long-duration storage units, small modular reactors, and clean construction materials.

Overall, the bill is doing its best to target some sectors that will be crucial to change should we expect to make significant progress in the fight against climate change. While there are many drawbacks, we hope that our discourse around this subject proves wrong as it would end up being a waste of billions of taxpayer dollars.


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