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Congressional Defense Bill Takes Aim At Biden’s Climate Agenda

The current draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) curtails Biden administration proposals to regulate the climate impacts of defense contractors.

The Department of Defense (DOD) issued a proposal in late 2022 that would mandate thousands of “major” defense contractors to disclose their annual greenhouse gas emissions and comply with federally ordered emission targets. The NDAA conference bill draft, which was released on Wednesday, could curtail this plan, as it includes provisions that would prohibit the DOD from requiring certain defense contractors to report their emissions or climate impact targets.

The NDAA draft outlines an exception that the DOD could require a report “to verify a voluntary disclosure,” if offered by the contractor, according to the bill text. The House and Senate filed different provisions for consideration regarding this measure, but the NDAA conference landed on the Senate’s version, which was spearheaded by Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, according to E&E News.

The NDAA conference draft also prohibits the DOD from deploying non-tactical electric, hydrogen or biofuel-powered vehicles to military installations that lack the systems to support them, according to the bill text. The Biden administration has been pushing to make all non-tactical vehicles electric by 2035 and apply the same standard to the entire military fleet by 2050, as part of President Joe Biden’s executive order to reach zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050.

The NDAA bill language underscores concerns that clean energy vehicles could only be deployed if military installations have the proper infrastructure and systems to support them, according to the draft.

The draft also includes a measure requiring the DOD to report a full list of its “operational energy programs,” as well as their life-cycle costs and how they are affecting “military readiness,” according to the bill text. Operational energy programs are defined as the energy output required to operate military forces and include the DOD’s commitment to seeking “more efficient and clean-energy technologies,” according to the Assistant Secretary of Defense.

The 2024 defense appropriations bill agreed upon by the NDAA conference must now pass in both the House and the Senate, and the vote could take place as soon as next week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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