On Friday, December 18, Congress passed and the President signed into law H.R. 2029* the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, an omnibus spending bill** comprised of federal agency appropriations through September 30, 2016 (the end of the 2016 fiscal year) and a package of tax breaks. The Act includes several important provisions related to the domestic energy and environmental sectors. In particular:
- The DOE’s budget includes $632 million for fossil energy research and development of which $160 million is earmarked to support existing CCS demonstration projects that are still in development and $207 million is earmarked for CCS technology research and development.
- The DOE’s budget also includes over $200 million to further the development of concentrating solar power, offshore wind, geothermal, conventional hydropower, and marine and hydrokinetic technologies; $90 million to promote clean energy manufacturing; $206 million for electricity delivery and energy reliability; and close to $100 million for nuclear energy activities.
- The production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) for wind energy are extended through 2016. They will then be phased out through 2019.
- The solar ITC and the credit for solar residential energy-efficiency property are extended through 2019. They will then be phased out through 2021.
The Act does not include specific funding to assist states in developing their CPP plans. However, EPA is budgeted $21 million for grants to states and tribes to assist with the implementation of environmental programs. According to the explanatory statement, the “[f]unds allow States and tribes to have the flexibility to direct resources for the implementation of high priority activities, including the processing of permits, which complement programs under established environmental statutes.” EPA must allocate these funds by formula to states and tribes no later than June 15, 2016. Presumably, once the money is allocated states and tribes will be able to apply these funds to their CPP-implementation activities.
* The link for the bill may take a few minutes to load.
**An “omnibus bill” is a type of bill in which the legislature packages together several different substantive issues for one vote.