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Tags: Infrastructure | emissions | natural gas | tax | budget reconciliation

Infrastructure, Debt Limit: A Week to Remember — or Forget?

senator holds visual aide for $3.5 trillion budget package
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., holds up a visual aide to represent the Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package as he speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Henry F. Cooper By Wednesday, 29 September 2021 09:05 AM Current | Bio | Archive

On last Sunday’s "Meet the Press," Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) supported ''repairing our electrical grid'' — a hopeful note for those who think our vulnerable electric grid is an attractive target.

Indeed, as often discussed previously, the ''powers that be'' have ignored the existential threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that would take down our electric power grid indefinitely.

So, we look for the yet to be revealed ''devil in the details'' as the House, Senate and president engage in negotiating two massive bills and legislation to continue funding the government.

Initially, there was an expectation that the current congressionally authorized debt ceiling would run out by week’s end. Then Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reported that the U.S. current debt ceiling flexibility will end on Oct. 18 — i.e., several weeks from now.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., initially announced that she would table proposed legislation on Tuesday — but then announced a delay until Thursday — and now it seems a ''Rain Dance'' may continue beyond this week, even though Republicans blocked Democrat efforts to defer dealing with the debt limit.

She promised to have the votes for passage before tabling it, setting up likely intensive negotiations on two massive spending bills:

  • An agreed $1.2 trillion so-called ''Infrastructure Bill'' including funding for highways, bridges, etc. — but without any sign of funds needed to protect the electric grid against the existential threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could take down our electric power grid indefinitely, leading to the death of most Americans due to starvation, disease and societal collapse.
  • A so-called ''build-back-better'' $3.5 trillion bill dealing with so-called social infrastructure, while emphasizing ''climate change'' and ''renewable energy.''

Meanwhile, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have made clear they would not support the $3.5 trillion plan that the president and speaker incredibly claimed was ''already paid for.'' The speaker then conceded it would be less.

Sen. Manchin has mentioned $1 trillion-$1.5 trillion would be acceptable — but progressive Democrats are unhappy with that level of spending — they originally wanted $6 trillion. So, the dance goes on.

The details of the current multi-thousand-page bills are not fully known. But Larry Kudlow reported on Fox Business News that available studies indicate additional trillions of dollars of new spending.

This reminds me of when Speaker Pelosi claimed Congress had to pass Obamacare to find out what was in it. Not to worry, it’s magic!

Meanwhile, The Washington Free Beacon reported that ''left leaning environmental experts'' think a massive tax on emissions and near elimination of natural gas is required to meet Biden’s climate goals." And while a White House fact sheet claims the goal will ''cut ... energy costs for families,'' environmental experts contend additional taxes on everyday Americans will be required to reach the Biden emissions milestone.

Radical steps to achieve his emissions goals would impact nearly half of U.S. homes heated by natural gas.

The Democrat-centered campaign fighting for such climate change legislation often omits specifics while chanting political platitudes; and some environmental activists criticize Biden for what they see as an emphasis on ''talking points'' rather than tangible action. But should Biden lean into his promised ''whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis,'' subsequent policies could be undermined.

This week, Congress is battling to meet these ambitious goals.

The ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has written that Democrats are repeating failed California policies.

He writes that proposed Democrat legislation is a ''makeover of the nation’s electricity system'' hiding a ''multi-trillion-dollar budget'' for ''new mandates, incentives and penalties on electricity providers that would make our electricity grid look more like California’s'' — an unwelcome development in his and others’ views.

This so-called Clean Electricity Payment Program (CEPP) proposes initially to spend hundreds of billions, while driving out traditional fuels that generate about 60 percent of our electricity and hoping to replace reliable energy with weather-dependent forms of energy like solar and windn—nand unrealistically alleging to reach by 2030 an 80-percent ''clean'' electricity standard.

Sen. Barrasso notes that requirements for a 65-percent increase in renewable energy while significantly reducing fossil fuels would be problematic for states like West Virginia — a serious concern for Sen. Manchin.

And if government pushes businesses away from traditional energy, thousands of well-paid, skilled, often union jobs in traditional energy sectors will be lost. A federal oil and gas leasing ban, for example, could kill up to a million jobs — a body blow to Wyoming, a concern for Senator Barrasso.

Sen. Barrasso noted that beyond spiking energy bills, reliability will suffer. In extreme weather, heating and cooling systems may lack needed energy. This summer, California had to add five oil and gas power generators to prevent blackouts. And ask Texas about possible cold winter weather consequences.

The CEPP would undermine our nation’s competitiveness, e.g., such government mandates would undercut U.S. price advantages — currently the third lowest price for electricity among developed country competitors — and increase our dependence on China which accounts for 80 percent of solar panel production and around 60 percent of the rare earth minerals used for many forms of renewable energy or electric car batteries.

Democrat plans would kill jobs at home and send business to strategic opponents. Hopefully, Sen. Barasso will persuade additional senators to consider such national security interests at stake when such mandates weaken our domestic energy sector and make us reliant on our foreign adversaries — like Russia, Venezuela, and China — and they will reject such proposals.

And it would be helpful if they supported protecting our electric grid against EMP. As previously reported, protection to the same standards as applied to protect our most important military systems would be quite affordable as compared to the funding currently being considered for less important matters.

Stay tuned!

Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper, Chairman of High Frontier and an acknowledged expert on strategic and space national security issues, was President Ronald Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union and Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Director during the George H.W. Bush administration. Read Ambassador Cooper's Reports — More Here.

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The ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has written that Democrats are repeating failed California policies.
emissions, natural gas, tax, budget reconciliation
Wednesday, 29 September 2021 09:05 AM
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