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Capitol Light/Climate Politics
Thomas Edsall writing in the New York Times said that “divisions between Democrats and Republicans have expanded far beyond the traditional fault lines based on race, education, gender, the urban-rural divide and economic ideology.”
Edsall goes on to say that “Polarization now encompasses sharp disagreements over the significance of patriotism and nationalism, as well as a fundamental split between those seeking to restore perceived past glories and those who embrace the future.”
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With polarization comes gridlock when a single party doesn’t control Congress and the White House. Today’s ten highlight the stark differences between Republicans and Democrats on climate change and what needs to be done about it.
Former president Trump calls the Green New Deal “an atrocity” and promises to tear it up on his first day in office—should he be elected again. Trump and many Republicans use the Green New Deal as a kind of shorthand—not just for climate-related policies-- for socialism, communism, anti-Americanism, and any other “isms” they believe are on the woke agenda of the Democrats.
The truth is there was never a Green New Deal (GND). Although talked about, the GND was officially nothing more than a congressional resolution. It lacked substance. There’s nothing to tear up because there is nothing there.
What is real, however, are the three historic pieces of legislation that was passed by the 117th Congress—the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and CHIPS and Science Acts. Although the IRA was passed along party lines, the other two had Republican support.
What’s most frustrating to climate champions is not so much Republican opposition to various pieces of legislation. It is their refusal to recognize not just the problem—but the success the three bills are already having on their states and their districts.
The work of the 117th Congress is responsible for tens of thousands of new jobs, the growth of domestic industries like autos, batteries, chip manufacturing, and the list goes on. An irony that seems lost on Trump and others is that red states are profiting more than blue states from the multiple programs contained in the various acts.
The 118th Congress will not be passing any bold new climate initiatives. In fact, the opposite is true. House Republicans in particular have their knives out in hopes of slashing the appropriations, policies and programs particularly those in the Democrats-only IRA.
Climate change and clean energy are going to be a prominent part of the debates going into the 2024 elections because Trump and others use the Green New Deal as a shorthand for all that’s wrong with Joe Biden and the Democrats.
I believe that after years of violent weather, record-breaking heat, and the visible growth of a domestic clean energy industry that voters—not all but some—are going to reject the unsubstantiated claims of candidates that Earth’s warming is nothing to worry about.
Slice and dice? House Republican leaders are moving toward deeper cuts in the fiscal 2024 appropriations bills in an effort to win over votes from hard-line conservatives as bills start to move to the House floor next week.
During a Wednesday night meeting, members of leadership and the House Freedom Caucus agreed to trim the bills which have been moving through the Appropriations Committee to get as close to the enacted fiscal 2022 level of $1.471 trillion as possible, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
A number of Freedom Caucus members and other conservatives have raised objections to the Appropriations Committee's move to allow $115 billion in spending above the fiscal 2022 top line, offset by rescissions of previously appropriated but unspent funding.
With the add-ons, new fiscal 2024 spending would come to $1.586 trillion — still below the caps in the debt ceiling law, but nonetheless a level the conservatives view as unacceptable. By the same token, GOP leaders can't lose support from the more centrist wing of the party on close votes, with most if not all Democrats expected to oppose the bills.
Senate appropriators, meanwhile, were moving in the opposite direction from their House counterparts. (Roll Call)
Plugged in and raring to go. U.S. government agencies are targeting buying 9,500 electric vehicles in the 2023 budget year, but face supply issues and higher costs, a federal report said on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Courting a different outcome. Lawmakers from both parties are calling on the Supreme Court to intervene over the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would stretch from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, but it has faced legal opposition from environmentalists. (The Hill)
Promises, promises. When Joe Biden was a presidential candidate in 2020, he pledged to ban oil and gas drilling on public land, pump federal money into clean energy, and achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century.
Three years later, the country’s emissions trajectory remains highly uncertain.
The United States is within reach of cutting its carbon pollution in half by 2035 — if it’s able to install a massive number of renewable energy projects. Or the nation could fall far short of its international climate promises and reduce its emissions by as little as 29 percent in 2030 — if fossil fuel prices remain low, economic growth surges and clean electricity installations stumble, according to a report released Thursday by the Rhodium Group. (E&E News)
A new report from the Manhattan Institute disputes the climate and cost benefits of the U.S. push for electric vehicles adoption, saying that the push comes with many unknown variables—including a potential jump in consumer costs and additional strain on grids.
The study’s author, Mark Mills, asserted that greenhouse gas reductions from higher EV penetration rates are based largely on “assumptions, guesses, and ambiguities,” and that bans on ICE-powered vehicles could risk “draconian impediments to affordable and convenient driving and a massive misallocation of capital in the world’s $4 trillion automotive industry.” Read more on the study. (Washington Examiner)
They’d rather do it themselves. Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to rebuff U.S. climate envoy John Kerry as he wrapped his three-day visit to Beijing, stressing at a national conference yesterday that the rate and intensity at which it achieves its climate goals should be determined internally, rather than by outside influences.
Xi said Beijing is “unwavering” on its dual climate goals—which seek to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, and achieve full carbon neutrality by the year 2060. “But,” he said, “the pathway and means for reaching this goal, and the tempo and intensity, should be and must be determined by ourselves, and never under the sway of others.”
One foreign affairs adviser to Xi also told Kerry yesterday that China-U.S. climate cooperation “cannot be separated from the broader environment of Chinese-U.S. relations.” (Washington Examiner)
“$270 billion are the losses from all global natural disasters in 2022, according to Munich Re, which estimates that roughly 55 percent of that total wasn’t insured.” (Bloomberg)
Atrocious, I say. Former President Trump says in a new campaign video that if he returns to the White House, he would end President Biden’s “Green New Deal atrocities” on his first day, despite the measure never being signed into law.
Trump accused Biden of “waging war” on the U.S. auto industry with his “ridiculous Green New Deal crusade.”
“If Biden’s assault is not stopped, American auto production will be totally dead,” the former president said in the video released Thursday. “That’s why I am going to terminate these Green New Deal atrocities on day one.”
Vvroom. Vietnamese automaker VinFast said on Wednesday it would start construction of a $4 billion electric vehicle factory in North Carolina next week as part of its push to expand in the United States market. The manufacturing facility could become one of the largest economic development projects in North Carolina's history, with the potential to hire up to 7,500 employees this decade. (Axios)
Shrugs all around. Heat waves, wildfire smoke and floods have swept across the U.S. and the world this summer, but extreme weather events aren’t swaying House Republicans on climate change — at least not yet.
Indeed, while scientists have widely linked the recent alarming weather to global warming, many Republicans are still not sold on the science of climate change. And even those who do believe say concerns about the climate crisis are overblown.
Many Republicans have moved away from outright climate science denial, advocating instead for an “all of the above” strategy on energy and innovation rather than regulation. While many Republicans say they believe in climate change to an extent, most say that fossil fuels should not be curtailed. In fact, they say, fossil fuels should be promoted. (E&E News Daily)
Shackles? The nation is baking in a record heat wave that is serving as a reminder of how climate change is rapidly affecting human life — from endangering outdoor workers to raising existential questions about communities at sea level.
None of the 11 major candidates for president is offering significant warnings about the issue. Most have acknowledged the existence of human-caused climate change, and some have taken action to combat it while holding lower offices.
The candidates are putting more of an emphasis on drilling for oil and natural gas than on taking steps to control emissions.
None of them has a dedicated climate change subsection on the issues page of their campaign website — although biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s economic plan includes the bullet point “abandon the climate cult and unshackle nuclear energy” — and none of the candidates with a dedicated page for energy policy advocates scaling back fossil fuel development. (The Hill)
Down on the farm. House Democrats are considering how firmly to dig in on farm bill issues they care about as they anticipate partisan fights over food stamps, climate change and other matters as lawmakers approach the expiration of the current law.
Representative Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the House Agriculture and Nutrition Task Force said there are limits to how far the Democrats are willing to compromise as they seek to influence the bill that sets farm policy for about five years. The current law expires September 30th.
"If we're going to get a farm bill, it has to be inclusive. At some point, we're going to have to work together," he said Thursday.
“I think now is the time for Democrats to look seriously at what our values are as Democrats,” he said, adding that there is particular concern “for those individuals who don’t have the lobbyists or other things but they are Americans. They deserve just and fair consideration. There are a lot of Democrats who are not going to support a farm bill that is punitive.”
Image courtesy of Unsplash
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