From Earth to Washington: Passing Strong Climate Change Legislation
President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he wanted $ 500 billion to fight climate change. Democrats should hold on to make sure that happens.
It looks like the initial backbone of Biden’s plan to tackle climate change – the Clean Electricity Performance Program – will not appear in the final version of his $ 3.5 trillion Build Back Better legislation. This is disheartening because CEPP, which reportedly provided around $ 150 billion to get utilities to switch from fossil fuel emissions to renewables, would have been an effective way to help avoid the worst effects of climate change. A “polluter pays” carbon tax that would have brought in $ 50 billion that could be spent on clean energy projects also appears to be on the cutting room floor.
But other important things are still on the table.
Among the many measures are developer tax credits for installing solar and wind power, for creating new technologies and for making electric vehicles more affordable for working families. Also on the table are discounts for highly efficient appliances and the allocation of resources to historically disadvantaged communities.
Even if things change hour by hour during the negotiations, we hope that there will be funds remaining for the Civilian Climate Corps which would benefit the people and the land by hiring various Americans, introducing them to careers in the world. green industry and tackling the deferred maintenance of parks and national areas and creating new resources where they are needed most. For example, this program could help with reforestation in Chicago, where the tree canopy has shrunk considerably.
If Congress ties Biden’s $ 500 billion to prevent climate catastrophe in Biden’s Build Back Better legislation with other initiatives, it could move the country closer to the president’s goal of reducing carbon pollution relative to to 2005 levels of 50 to 52% by 2030. Now, only 20% of US energy comes from renewable sources.
Biden can implement some green policies through executive orders, although that could involve tedious rule-making and could be overruled by a future president. In addition, the federal government can advance climate goals through its role as a consumer, by purchasing electric vehicles for the postal service, for example.
Reaching Biden’s climate targets probably won’t happen as quickly as if CEPP were on the books, but the other metrics would still be a big step forward. Even without CEPP, the Democrats’ proposed legislation is the greatest way for the United States to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide entering the environment.
Taken together, the climate proposals could lead to the biggest emissions reductions in the country’s history.
That’s why Josh Mogerman, national media director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says there are many ways to reach Biden’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.
“We’ll see what happens when the dust settles, but there’s still a lot to like about what’s in there,” Mogerman said.
Last week, more than 100 doctors and health experts wrote in the Lancet medical journal that climate change is “the greatest global health threat the world faces in the 21st century.” Also last week, U.S. intelligence and defense agencies warned that climate change would increase conflicts between countries and lead to increased immigration.
Climate change is upon us. Storms are stronger. Droughts are worse. Species are on the verge of extinction. Floods threaten larger areas. The sea level rises.
Biden needs the Senate’s 50 Democrats to support his clean energy initiatives throughout the reconciliation process. They should rally to him.
America can hardly be a world leader in saving Earth if it cannot pass important climate legislation. It is too late for small, progressive steps.
Do it, Democrats.
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