Energy

State Energy Aid

Rep Fred Upton (R-MI-6)

Rep Fred Upton (R-MI-6)

HR 3050 requires Federal financial assistance made available to a State to be used for the implementation, review, and revision of a State energy security plan that assesses the State’s existing circumstances and proposes methods to strengthen the ability of the State to secure the energy infrastructure of the State against all physical and cybersecurity threats; mitigate the risk of energy supply disruptions to the State and enhance the response to, and recovery from, energy disruptions; and ensure the State has a reliable, secure, and resilient energy infrastructure. Passed House.

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Hydro Extensions

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4)

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4)

HR 2828 extends the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project at the request of the licensee for the project, and after reasonable notice,the commission may extend the time period during which the licensee is required to commence the construction of the project for up to three consecutive 2-year periods. Passed House.

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Hydro Licensing

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC-8)

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC-8)

H.R. 2786 would provide benefits to a greater range conduit hydropower projects by shortening the 45-day notice period to 30 days, and allowing larger conduit projects to be eligible for exemption from FERC’s jurisdiction. Congress established conduit exemptions in 2013 that affected conduits that are operated to distribute water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption.  Passed House

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Pipeline Review

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX-17)

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX-17)

H.R. 2910 would specify timeframes and procedures for FERC and other affected agencies to follow in conducting environmental reviews related to natural gas pipelines.  Passed House.

Senate Heads for Repeal Vote Next Week

Ozone Controls Take a Hit

Cross-border Pipelines Get Easier

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is making a last ditch effort to get a vote on healthcare reform after rejecting the House-passed American Healthcare Act (HR 1628), having failed to get enough votes for his Better Care Reconciliation Act twice ultimately killing the bills. But McConnell intends to finalize Senators positions on the matter with a straight forward bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) after two years on the premise that Members will be forced to address replacing the ACA or face millions losing their healthcare subsidies and consequently their coverage.

The Leader and those supporting the ‘repeal first’ strategy hold that a bill resulting from the threat of those millions losing coverage will be crafted on a bi-partisan basis. While whether Democrats will be brought to the table to craft the bill remains in question as Republicans have often voiced their congressional majority allows them to pass bills with only their caucuses vote. CBO weighs in on Repeal bill below.

It appears, though, that McConnell does not have the votes to succeed with his repeal-only plans as 10 Senators rejected the plan when it was first brought forth early this year.

We write about this matter in Editorial.

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Ozone

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX-22)

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX-22)

HR 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act, puts off for ten years the implementation of a final rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 related to ambient-air-quality standards for ozone emissions. The proposed rule requires ground-level ozone measurements at 70 parts per billion (ppb), a reduction from the current from 75  ppb allowed.

The bill also delays EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards to go into effect this year until 2025 and changes the frequency with which EPA must conduct reviews of the NAAQS for air pollutants from five years to ten years.

Finally, the bill requires a report to Congress ‘describing the extent to which foreign sources of air pollution affect the ability of states to comply with federal pollution limits under the Clean Air Act.’ – cbo. Passed House.

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Cross-border Pipelines

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-2)

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-2)

H.R. 2883 would make changes to permitting requirements for oil and natural gas pipelines and electric transmission facilities that cross international borders. Under current law such permitting requires presidential approval after a completed environmental review of the entire pipeline and the determination that the project is in the national interest. HR 2883 only requires the environmental review where the project crosses the border – would be subject to a National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) review. Expanding or modifying existing cross-border pipelines and transmission lines would not be subject to environmental reviews. Passed House.

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Other Action

D.C. Metro Compact

House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5th) Minority Whip

House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5th) Minority Whip

H.J.Res 76 grants congressional consent and approval for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the state of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to enter into a Metrorail Safety Commission (MSC) Interstate Compact. The MSC Compact establishes a Washington Metrorail Safety Commission for the safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Rail (Metrorail) system. Passed House.

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Amending the Compact

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10)

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10)

H.J.Res 92 grants congressional consent to amendments of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regulation Compact relating to the appointment and removal of members and alternates of the Board of Directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority by compact signatories.

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Alaskan Land Swap

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) Bill sponsor

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) Bill sponsor

H.R. 218 would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to convey, at the request of the State of Alaska, 206 acres of federal land in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to allow for the construction of a road. In exchange, the state would convey to the federal government an amount of land up to 43,000 acres with a total fair market value equal to the value of the federal lands the state would receive. CBO expects that the total value of the state-owned land identified for exchange under the bill (43,000 acres) would exceed the value of the federal lands; therefore, we expect that the state would convey a portion of that acreage equalize the value of the lands being conveyed by the two parties and that no cash would be exchanged in the transaction.” – cbo Passed House

Maneuverings

Our take on how things are and are not getting done on the Hill


Deficit up $120 Billion over this time last year: CBO

“The federal budget deficit was $520 billion for the first nine months of fiscal year 2017, the Congressional Budget Office estimates—$120 billion more than the shortfall recorded during the same span last year. Receipts and outlays alike were higher than they were last year, but outlays rose much more.

“In its most recent budget projections, CBO estimated that the deficit for fiscal year 2017 (which will end on September 30, 2017) would total $693 billion, about $109 billion more than the shortfall in fiscal year 2016.” Full report here.


Senate Repeal Bill Would Save $473 Billion Over Ten Years. 27 million uninsured by 2020. Premiums Double by 2026

The Congressional Budget Office report on the Senate repeal bill.

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017, an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 1628, which would repeal many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the agencies’ analysis, enacting the legislation would decrease deficits by $473 billion over the 2017-2026 period (see figure below).

CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would affect insurance coverage and premiums primarily in these ways:

  • The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 17 million in 2018, compared with the number under current law. That number would increase to 27 million in 2020, after the elimination of the ACA’s expansion of eligibility for Medicaid and the elimination of subsidies for insurance purchased through the marketplaces established by the ACA, and then to 32 million in 2026.
  • Average premiums in the nongroup market (for individual policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers) would increase by roughly 25 percent—relative to projections under current law—in 2018. The increase would reach about 50 percent in 2020, and premiums would about double by 2026.

In CBO and JCT’s estimation, under this legislation, about half of the nation’s population would live in areas having no insurer participating in the nongroup market in 2020 because of downward pressure on enrollment and upward pressure on premiums. That share would continue to increase, extending to about three-quarters of the population by 2026.

Net Effects of the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017 on the Budget Deficit

The ways in which individuals, employers, states, insurers, doctors, hospitals, and other affected parties would respond to the changes made by this legislation are all difficult to predict, so the estimates reported here are uncertain. But CBO and JCT have endeavored to develop budgetary estimates that are in the middle of the distribution of potential outcomes.

Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting this legislation would affect direct spending and revenues. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027. CBO has not completed an estimate of the potential impact of the legislation on discretionary spending, which would be subject to future appropriation action.

CBO and JCT have reviewed the legislation and determined that it would impose no intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). CBO and JCT have determined that the legislation would impose private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA. On the basis of information from JCT, CBO estimates that the aggregate cost of the mandates would exceed the annual threshold established in UMRA for private-sector mandates ($156 million in 2017, adjusted annually for inflation). Source: CBO