This Week’s Headlines
- Call to Action: Last Thursday, the Progressive Congressional Caucus released a statement calling on President Biden and Senate Democrats to pass the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) by the president’s State of the Union address on March 1st, pointing to increasing urgency to address the climate crisis.
- BBBA on the Back Burner? Congressional priorities for 2022 are shaping up and BBBA is still a top priority with progressive champions and frontline Democrats both pushing hard. However, other hot topics threaten to push the BBBA towards the back of the list. Those issues include: addressing the government spending deadline February 18, confirming a new SCOTUS nominee, passing a China competitiveness bill, and passing the Electoral Count Act. We can’t let climate and environmental justice action die a slow death in Congress, and we know that advocates won’t stop pushing to keep the BBB agenda front and center.
- Victory for the Planet: Last week a federal court cancelled over 80 million acres of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico that were auctioned off last November. The court ruled the Biden administration failed to sufficiently account for the climate crisis when it relied on a shoddy environmental review from the Trump administration. Besides keeping enormous amounts of polluting fossil fuels in the ground, the court’s decision represents an important precedent as court challenges in the era of the climate crisis are sure to be frequent and consequential.
- Foreign Policy at Odds with Climate Goals: The ongoing crisis in the Ukraine, with a potential Russian invasion worrying Washington, has President Biden turning over rocks to look for more oil and gas to ease European energy concerns. The White House has been in talks with Qatar to send more natural gas to European Union countries struggling with high energy prices despite the President’s climate goals. Environmentalists have pointed to the Russia-Ukraine crisis as another reason to build out renewable energy infrastructure.
- Michigan EV Innovation: During the State of the State address last Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer touted General Motors’ (GM) decision to invest $7 billion in Michigan to repurpose two manufacturing plants for the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries, and proposed a $2,500 tax credit for EV purchases. The proposed tax credit would be in addition to the existing $7,500 federal incentive, which has a quota for how many EV incentives individual manufacturers can offer. Many manufacturers, including Tesla and GM, have exceeded available tax credits for purchase of EVs and will need passage of the Build Back Better Act to offer incentives for those vehicles.
A Deeper Dive: Electric Vehicles & Climate Action
Michigan is poised to be the center of electric vehicle innovation that will help meet our climate goals and spur job growth. Just today, Rep. Brenda Lawrence introduced the Wireless Charging Grant Program Act to fund wireless EV charging – one of many EV-related bills proposed by Michigan’s congressional delegation – building off a pilot program in Michigan to create the country’s first mile of wireless charging road.
For EV’s to become ubiquitous, people need to know they will always have access to fast charging, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes significant funding for EV charging. Electric vehicles, however, can only help solve the climate crisis if the electric grid is powered by clean energy. That’s a huge, glaring hole for EVs – one that the Build Back Better agenda would go a long way to solving, with hundreds of billions of dollars to move us down this road faster (pun intended).
The EV revolution is an opportunity for change. As we launch the next generation of transportation options, including electric vehicles, we must make sure we source the raw materials needed for batteries – like semiconductor chips – as sustainably as possible.
Mineral extraction has disproportionately impacted Indigenous people, devastating their land and natural resources, and fossil fuels have left a “boom-and-bust” legacy for industrial communities across the country. We now have the opportunity to equitably transition to the clean energy future without leaving anyone behind, including workers in the fossil fuel industry.
The Michigan LCV Difference
Michigan LCV continues to work to capture stories of how Michiganders are being impacted by increased flooding, frequent power outages, and crumbling infrastructure as the effects of climate change accelerate.
Our latest video, “Hear Our Stories. Join Our Fight.”, illustrates the urgent need to address the climate crisis at all levels to protect our communities from the worst impacts. Michiganders from across the state agree: Climate can’t wait.
You can watch the “Hear Our Stories. Join Our Fight.” video here.
While the path ahead for climate action in Washington, D.C. is uncertain, Gov. Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan provides an opportunity to tackle climate change here in Michigan by achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The plan is a good start, but we can do better. The final MI Healthy Climate Plan must be strengthened to include concrete, timed plans for implementation of clean energy solutions that will get our economy to 100% clean energy.
Over the next month, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) is working to improve the draft plan and is seeking input from the public.
You can help improve the final MI Healthy Climate Plan by providing EGLE with written or verbal feedback. Before providing feedback, make sure to check out Michigan LCV’s MI Healthy Climate Plan Digital Toolkit for guidance and suggestions. The deadline for comments is March 14.
By building a chorus of as many voices as possible, we can help make the final MI Healthy Climate Plan as strong as possible and take action to address climate change in Michigan.