Dems aid package includes support for Rep. Horn’s oil bill

Green activists might be somewhat disappointed that the $3 trillion coronavirus crisis aid package designed by U.S. House Democrats didn’t include major climate change provisions. But Oklahoma Congresswoman Kendra Horn might be excited about it.

Instead, the plan included money to help people avoid water shutoffs, environmental justice grants, money to help Native American tribes deliver potable water and help to the ethanol industry.

As POLITICO reported, a vote is expected at the end of the week.

The 1,815-page measure is largely a messaging bill with no chance of passing the Republican-led Senate in its current form, but the bill omits any major climate change or clean-energy provisions that some green groups had hoped to see.

Here’s what did make it:

Water, utility shutoffs: $1.5 billion would go to help low-income households cover their water bills. The measure would also place a moratorium on utility service shutoffs for any entity receiving federal relief funds.

Environmental justice: A $50 million program for environmental justice grants to be administered by EPA.

Native American tribes: $30 million for Native American tribes to deliver potable water to residents lacking access.

Biofuels: Direct assistance would be offered to biofuel producers slammed by the pandemic by paying them 45 cents for each gallon an affected biofuel plant produced between Jan. 1 and May 1 of this year.

NOT FORGOTTEN BY HOYER: Democrats’ bill does not contain any sort of clean-energy tax credits, nor does it include any funds to fill up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But Majority Leader Steny Hoyer broke with many members of his own party on Tuesday, urging Congress to take advantage of low crude oil prices to refill the SPR.

“Both parties have used part of the Strategic Petroleum [Reserve] supply , which was created to make sure that we had energy available to us at a time of crisis where oil supplies were shut off,” Hoyer said on a call with reporters. “Now, circumstances change, and we are the world’s largest producer of energy now. But I think this is a time to restock the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and make sure that we have a supply.”

It is the first indication that House Democrat leaders support a bill introduced last month by Oklahoma Rep. Kendra Horn.

She introduced bipartisan legislation to support the energy industry by providing $3 billion in funding to purchase crude oil produced in the United States for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The bill introduction follows a plunge in crude oil prices globally this week.

She introduced the bill along with several other Democrats.

“Right now, Oklahomans are facing a historic health and economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and made worse by the destabilization of energy markets,” said Congresswoman Kendra Horn in announcing the bill. “As workers in the oil and gas industry struggle to make ends meet, our nation is still counting on them to power hospitals and essential services. We must take action now to help an industry that supports nearly a fifth of our state’s workforce and fuels our nation’s economy. Today’s bipartisan bill does just that by providing resources to replenish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.”