Van Hollen, Markey, and Omar Lead Bicameral Letter to President Biden Urging Bold Climate Action in Budget Reconciliation
In three weeks, President Joe Biden will attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of Parties (COP26), where he will be expected to advocate for global climate cooperation, secure additional emission reduction commitments, and catalyze bold action from world leaders to prevent a global temperature rise greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Today, ahead of COP26, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) andEdward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.-05) led 58 colleagues in a bicameral letter to President Biden urging him to secure a deal on his Build Back Better agenda that maintains strong climate provisions. The lawmakers outlined a “climate test” for the reconciliation package, which includes the scientifically necessary emissions reduction goal of cutting climate pollution at least in half by 2030, while creating good union jobs and advancing environmental, racial, and economic justice.
“The climate crisis presents deadlines that are imposed on us by science -- deadlines that are rapidly passing us by,” write the lawmakers in their letter. “The COP26 summit could be the last opportunity for world leaders to take bold action before it is too late to secure a livable climate by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We’re facing an existential crisis, with American leadership, economic prosperity, and our very lives at stake.”
Other Senators signing the letter include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Members of the House of Representatives signing the letter include Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.- At-Large), Mondaire Jones (N.Y.-17), Barbara Lee (Calif.-13), Marie Newman (Ill.-03), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.-14), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.-07), Rashida Tlaib (Miss.-13), Peter Welch (Vt.-At-Large), Karen Bass (Calif.-37), Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.-16), André Carson (Ind.-07), Yvette D. Clarke (N.Y.-09), Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.-44), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (Ill.-04), Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.-03), Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.-12), Mike Quigley (Ill.-05), Jamie Raskin (Md.-08), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.-09), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12), Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (N.C.-12), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.-13), Jake Auchincloss (Mass.-04), Doris Matsui (Calif.-06), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.-34), A. Donald McEachin (Va.-04), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (Va.-08), James P. McGovern (Mass.-02), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.-03), Jerry McNerney (Calif.-09), Jared Huffman (Calif.-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Julia Brownley (Calif.-26), Hank Johnson (Ga.-04), Jerry Nadler (N.Y.-10), Ro Khanna (Calif.-17), Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.-08), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (N.J.-10), Gerry Connolly (Va.-11), John Larson (Conn.-01), Danny K. Davis (Ill.-07), Mike Levin (Calif.-49), Debbie Dingell (Miss.-12), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.-47), Adam Smith (Wash.-09), Mark Takano (Calif.-41), Paul Tonko (N.Y.-20), Melanie A. Stansbury (N.M.-01), Dina Titus (Nev.-03), Thomas R. Suozzi (N.Y.-04) and Nikema Williams (Ga.-05).
A copy of the letter can be found below and here.
Dear President Biden,
In just three weeks, you will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland to deliver on your administration’s commitment to cut climate pollution at least in half by 2030 and show the world that the United States is boldly investing in climate action. This is an historic opportunity to make clear that America is ready to lead the international community in the battle against the climate crisis, advocate for a serious global effort to cut emissions, and fight a livable future for all. But this high-stakes opportunity hinges on ensuring the Build Back Better deal includes transformational investments in climate action, good-paying union jobs, and environmental justice.
We thank you for your leadership in putting forward the Build Back Better agenda to deliver on your historic climate mandate from the American public. As the majority of congressional Democrats support the Build Back Better Act’s bold climate action, we are counting on you to help deliver a final deal with historic climate investments before COP26 that you can proudly present in Glasgow. We have an opportunity to honor your commitment to cut climate pollution at least in half by 2030, give our communities and children a fighting chance, and make clear to our allies, “America is back.”
The only way to get the rest of the world to take climate action at the scale that science and justice demand is if the United States – the richest country in the world and one of its biggest polluters – champions and models bold climate action. According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the array of climate investments in the Build Back Better Act have the combined potential to deliver the vast majority of your international climate commitment by cutting climate pollution by 45 percent by 2030. Before COP26, it is critical to secure agreement from all relevant parties on a Build Back Better deal that meets the “climate test” by achieving the scientifically-necessary emissions reduction goal while creating good union jobs and advancing environmental, racial, and economic justice.
To meet the climate test, the Build Back Better Act must deliver measurable emissions reductions that will secure our future. Right now, as you have laid out, this includes a strong, ten- year Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) and a robust, ten-year package of clean electricity, vehicles, and manufacturing tax credits -- two of the bill’s drivers of significant emissions reductions. We will continue to fight for that vision. However, if the package does not contain a strong CEPP, we will need your unwavering support for significant additional investments in climate priorities to close the resulting emissions gap, create new jobs and support transitioning workers, support environmental justice priorities without worsening inequities, and meet the climate test in the coming days and weeks as we approach the United Nations climate negotiations.
Meeting the climate test also means expanding access to union-built electric vehicles and clean public transit. It means retrofitting our homes and schools to cut pollution while building healthier living and learning environments. It means creating a Civilian Climate Corps to train the next generation of workers for careers in the clean energy economy and to create new good- paying union jobs cleaning up pollution, strengthening community resilience, recovering from climate disasters, and achieving key environmental justice goals. It means protecting our public lands, forests, wetlands, and urban green spaces that shield communities from heat waves and storms while storing carbon. It means establishing a Clean Energy Accelerator to hasten the deployment of clean energy projects in communities across the nation. And it means eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies -- we cannot tackle the climate crisis with one hand while using the other to subsidize corporate polluters.
We must arrive in Glasgow with a Build Back Better deal that delivers bold investments in environmental justice to redress the devastating health and economic impacts of toxic pollution, primarily in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. A deal that includes replacing lead pipes across the country, building healthy ports, investing directly in communities impacted by environmental injustice, strengthening community engagement under the National Environmental Policy Act, and cleaning up Superfund and other polluted sites.
The climate crisis presents deadlines that are imposed on us by science -- deadlines that are rapidly passing us by. The COP26 summit could be the last opportunity for world leaders to take bold action before it is too late to secure a livable climate by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The climate crisis is here and it’s an emergency. This year alone we’ve seen the catastrophic impacts of climate change in the heat waves and wildfires that hospitalized hundreds and burned down homes in the West, the storms that displaced families and drowned children from Louisiana to New York, and the droughts that afflicted the heartland. We’re facing an existential crisis, with American leadership, economic prosperity, and our very lives at stake.
We thank you for your leadership and bold vision on Build Back Better. We urge you to secure a Build Back Better deal that meets the climate test before COP26 so that you can walk into Glasgow with historic investments in climate action, good-paying union jobs, and a more just economy.
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