Washington Weekly: October 27, 2021
The Past Week in D.C.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center in Plymouth on Saturday to join a roundtable with local business leaders hosted by Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) to discuss jobs, the economy, child care, and the entire Build Back Better Agenda. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) was also in attendance.
On Monday, less than a week before the United Nations COP26 climate conference is set to begin in Glasgow, the U.N. released a new report detailing how current climate pledges made by major governments across the world will not do nearly enough to avoid catastrophic damage by the end of the century. In order to stop warming beyond the critical 1.5 degree celsius threshold to avoid the worst impacts, the report tells us that we need to reduce climate emissions to 45% below 2010 levels by 2030. Under current pledges, even if carried out, carbon emissions will be 16% higher in 2030 than in 2010.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that it would officially cancel two environmental rollbacks put in place by President Trump that limited habitat protections for endangered species.
Today, General Motors announced plans to begin a new community charging program in 2022 that will install over 40,000 EV charging stations in the U.S. and Canada, with a focus on placing stations in underserved communities that often lack access to them.
Michigan LCV Analysis: What does this mean for Michigan?
This week is crunch time for the White House and congressional Democrats as they fast approach their self-imposed October 31 deadline to pass the infrastructure bill and, at minimum, agree to a framework for the larger social spending and climate package.
Much is at stake politically for President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer as they continue to negotiate with members of their party to deliver on the key aspects of the President’s domestic agenda that got him elected. House progressives are holding firm to a veto threat on the infrastructure bill without a simultaneous vote on a social spending bill, while Speaker Pelosi and moderate Democrats are pushing for a vote on infrastructure so long as there is an agreed-upon framework for the larger bill. Waiting to agree on — and draft — specific legislative language will surely delay an infrastructure vote beyond October 31.
Meanwhile in the Senate, Joe Manchin (D-WV), the senator from a small red state with personal ties to the coal industry, ironically continues to wield the most power over the entire process. It seems that he is more amenable to the White House’s new climate strategy (necessitated by Manchin’s refusal to support many original provisions). Yet should climate policies be stripped from the final bill, it will be clear where to place the blame.
In addition to this week’s deadline — which was already delayed once — the White House believes that it is critical to U.S. global climate credibility that a framework for major climate legislation is at least agreed upon this week ahead of the Glasgow Climate Summit set to begin on Monday. Two tight gubernatorial races next week, in New Jersey and Virginia, also place political urgency on Democrats to deliver on policies that remain very popular with a large swath of Americans across the political spectrum.
Beyond politics, climate change remains “an existential threat to humanity,” as President Biden put it during a CNN town hall last Thursday. We must pass major climate legislation as soon as possible if we are to meet President Biden’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and avoid catastrophic climate destruction this century.
Here in Michigan, increasingly severe weather is flooding homes and farm fields and causing widespread power outages. Of course, the health of many Michiganders has suffered from our addiction to fossil fuels, as young community leader Dolores Perales explains in one of Michigan LCV’s latest Build Back Better For Us stories.
Republicans, expectedly, remain no help in the climate fight, instead spending these critical days spinning a false narrative about the cost of clean energy. The truth (which they presumably know) is that fossil fuel reliance resulting in the increasingly destructive impact of climate change is driving up costs, while the clean energy investments outlined in the Build Back Better plan would result in an average of $500 in household energy savings per year.
Nothing is yet finalized, but the most up-to-date reporting shows that the social spending bill — likely to now total around $2 billion — will include at least $500 billion in climate measures, the single largest component of the package. For all of the fears of massive cuts, that $500 billion, if it remains in the final bill, is relatively close to the originally proposed $600 billion in the $3.5 trillion version, and would include many of the most critical policies.
A Deeper Dive
Just seven games into their inaugural season, it is much too early to tell how the Seattle Kraken — the National Hockey League’s newest club — will fare on the ice. But one thing is certain: there is a lot to like about the arena where they will play their home games. Climate Pledge Arena is the first completely carbon neutral stadium in major sports. Among other climate friendly features, the arena will use no single-use plastic or gas of any kind (including cooking with only electric), features solar panels on the entire roof, as well as roofs of the surrounding parking garages (with plans to build an off-site renewable energy farm in the near future), and funnels and collects rainwater to produce game ice.
Tonight at 8 pm ET, the Climate Action Campaign (LCV is a member group) will be holding an ALL HANDS ON DECK activist call to discuss our progress on the Build Back Better Act, where we go from here, and what we can do in this final push. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Senator Brian Schatz will speak to what’s at stake for our communities when it comes to climate change and how the Build Back Better agenda works to combat this global issue. Click here to RSVP.