When President Joe Biden unveiled its $2.25 trillion At the beginning of the April “American Jobs Plan,” many climate activists heaved a (small) sigh of relief. Although the plan was small $10 trillion The Progressive Democrats proposed to spend on improving the country’s infrastructure was in many ways green new deal in small. These include massive spending on clean energy, a civilian employment program known as “Climate Corps”, and a push to get electric cars on the road across America. There was no question Biden’s primary plan to cut carbon emissions. only. the big one.
Now, however, there is growing concern that the “big one” may not be that big after all. Key features of the bill – such as the requirement to produce electricity from clean sources, or hundreds of billions of dollars in support of electric vehicles – as a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over the price tag. And without them, the country has the potential to cut carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 – as Biden recently promised At their International Climate Summit – there’s basically zero.
“we need full American Jobs Plan,” said Lena Moffitt, campaign director at Evergreen Action, a climate-focused policy group.
Over the past few weeks, progressives and climate activists have watched with dismay as the Biden administration and key Democratic leaders back-and-forth with congressional Republicans. Biden’s original plan was to spend $2.25 trillion; After the conversation, he reduced it $1.7 trillion. (Lots of money, but still probably not enough to address the 6.5 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions that America emits into the atmosphere each year.) Republicans came back with a counteroff they claimed included $928 billion in funding for highways, roads and public transport; Democrats protested frustratedly that only a quarter of it would be real New Expenditure.
If all this sounds like a lot of ruckus over the numbers, it is… no more. The outcome of these talks – layered though they are in political currency – could very well determine whether the US can even come close to Biden’s carbon-cutting goal. The US Congress has not passed anything that could even remotely be called a “climate bill” since 2009; this is Never Anything passed with clean energy provisions as promised in the US employment plan.
Take, for example, one of the plan’s hallmark policies: a clean electricity standard, a requirement for the nation’s utilities to produce all their electricity from carbon-free sources by 2035. (Picture the nation’s dying coal and natural gas plants replaced with solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal loops, and a new generation of nuclear plants.) According to modeling From the Environmental Defense Fund, that standard—combined with tax credits for investing in the electric grid and building alternative sources of electricity—is the U.S. economy. more than half for its new emissions target.
Then there’s $174 billion to start the process of roughly transforming America 248 million Gas powered cars with electric cars. (a part of that money will go to tax credits, which could help Americans pay the high upfront cost of owning an EV; Another part will go towards building the vast network of charging station Where those all-electric cars can plug in.) Not to mention money earmarked for research and development in clean energy, the Climate Corps jobs program, and so on.
The problem for Biden is that Republicans in Congress don’t want that. Their nearly trillion-dollar counteroffer focuses on “traditional” infrastructure, such as roads, highways and bridges. It provides almost no funding for clean energy, electric vehicles, or research and development. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, told me, “The climate aspects of the Republican proposal are basically negligible compared to what is done.” “It’s an old-fashioned proposal for bridges and highways with a bit of climate ‘purfling’ along the edges.” (Purfling, it turns out, refers to the decorative edge on a string instrument.)
The reluctance of Republicans to come on board with a plan for full American jobs is no surprise; Many Democrats have long assumed that, for climate policy to pass, they must do it on their own, possibly in what is known as a “loophole of Congress.”budget reconciliationTo bypass the filibuster. (In an era of partisan impasse, budget reconciliation—usually a way to quickly adjust large budget bills—is increasingly seen as a way to pass major policy. ) But all the Democratic talk of (hypothetical) bipartisanship on infrastructure could be costly. They got valuable time to act on the (very real) threat of climate change.
“My experience has been that at the end of the day, Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown,” Whitehouse said. He pointed out that Democrats only have 18 months before next year’s midterm election – when many Republicans think they’ll be able to do so. retake the house. “As that time bleeds away, it becomes harder and harder to see how we get on a safe climate path,” he said.
There’s always the possibility that Democrats could work with Republicans on a water-packed infrastructure package, made up mostly of highways, bridges and roads, and then follow up with a Democrat-only clean energy bill that’s difficult. The budget goes through a conciliation process. . Josh Freed, director of climate and energy at policy think tank Third Way, told me that he believes moderate Senate Democrats—like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, widely held the crucial 50th vote on any Democrat—only legislation. Supposedly – would have prompted the American Jobs to pass any remaining clean energy components of the plan as such, even if they did not include it in the infrastructure package.
“I guess no matter what happens [infrastructure]”There’s enough stuff that Manchin supports and wants to see passed because it will help West Virginia,” Freed said.
But, for climate activists who remember President Barack Obama’s failed attempts to pass climate legislation, any waiting seems too dangerous. In 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an effort to get the country out of the Great Recession, which included $90 billion for clean energy and was intended as a move to slow the pace of climate change. . A bill imposing economy-wide limits on carbon emissions was due later. But this second move tied up in the Senate, and the Obama administration prioritized health reform instead. Since then, the average global temperature has increased by about 0.7 °C — and the US still hasn’t passed a single piece of climate legislation.
Whitehouse said he has always expected Congress to pass an infrastructure bill and a budget reconciliation bill – and in an ideal world, they would be planned together, so that the budget reconciliation bill, with all of its clean energy provisions, not be held Back by cross-party talks on infrastructure. “But,” he added, “I’m not sure this is a perfect world.”
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