Federal Budget Deal Looks Good For The Environment — For Now

Last week the U.S. Congress came together to pass a big sprawling budget agreement.  Environmentalists are touting the big wins, such as the extension of the 30% investment tax credit for renewables, plus a few other goodies like finally giving equal tax benefits for commuters who take transit as for those who drive to work.

Certainly there’s much for them to celebrate, especially what didn’t happen.  Namely, Republicans wanted to repeal the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan.”  In exchange for giving up this provision, Republicans secured a lifting of the ban on U.S. oil exports.

Certainly it makes sense for environmentalists to celebrate winning this battle over the Clean Power Plan, although it’s unfortunate that the oil export ban was lifted.  But I would think they would be concerned about the precedent it sets.  What will Republicans demand next year to avoid rolling back the Clean Power Plan?  And the year after?  The Republican majority isn’t going away anytime soon, at least in the U.S. House, so it seems like it will be an ongoing bargaining chip.  Meanwhile, they’ll continue to attack the Plan in the courts.

But in the meantime, the Plan will live to see another day, and environmentalists can end the year on another post-Paris high note.  For now.


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