Infrastructure bill becomes law, includes two CCL secondary asks


Infrastructure bill becomes law, includes two CCL secondary asks

Infrastructure bill becomes law, includes two CCL secondary asks

By Flannery Winchester

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives took a much-anticipated vote on a major infrastructure bill. The bill, which is officially named the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is often referred to as the “bipartisan infrastructure framework” or “BIF” for short. 

The BIF passed with 228 supporting votes.

All but six House Democrats voted for the bill, joined by 13 House Republicans. Several of those 13 are familiar names from the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, such as Reps. Bacon, Fitzpatrick, Katko, Reed, and Upton.

Earlier this year, 50 Senate Democrats and 19 Senate Republicans voted together to pass the BIF through their chamber. Again, this list includes Senators with a history of engaging on climate issues, including all the Democratic members of the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus and most of their Republican counterparts, Sens. Murkowski, Romney, Graham, Collins, and Portman.

The bill will now head to President Biden, who will officially sign it into law.

“​​This should free up Congress to focus fully on the budget reconciliation process,” CCL Strategy Director, Tony Sirna, explained in a post on CCL Community. That’s good news, because we are pushing hard for a price on carbon to be included in that budget reconciliation package.

But before we discuss what’s next, let’s take a closer look at the climate provisions included in BIF and how CCL’s efforts helped this important legislation become law.

Climate provisions in BIF

The infrastructure package is not specifically a climate bill — its primary goal was not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — but it does include some climate provisions that we should celebrate. The investments come in the areas of alternative vehicles, public transit, research and innovation, and energy infrastructure. Here are a few examples of the funding included:

    • Alternative vehicles – $2.5 billion over five years for grants for electric vehicle charging stations and alternative fuel infrastructure
    • Public transit – $2.34 billion for low- or zero-emission bus grants
    • Energy infrastructure –  $3.5 billion over five years for Energy Department financial support for projects that help develop four regional hubs to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transport, store, and use it.

CCL’s legislative staff compiled a thorough summary of these and many other climate-related provisions that were included, so check that out for a deeper dive.

CCL efforts helped shape and pass the bill

Exciting for CCL is that provisions from the Hope for Homes Act and the Storing CO2 And Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act were also included in the BIF. These bills were some of CCL’s supporting asks in our June 2021 lobby meetings and throughout the summer. 

As CCL volunteers have called and emailed their representatives in recent months, those with Republican House members have been requesting their support on this infrastructure package, helping ensure that the House vote was bipartisan.

“The inclusion of these measures shows that CCL’s volunteer lobbying has an impact,” says Dr. Danny Richter, CCL’s VP of Government Affairs. “This is a powerful reminder of why CCL supports other bipartisan climate bills — because we can make a difference.”

In addition to volunteers lobbying on these provisions, CCL also contributed to coalition letters laying out climate measures we and other groups wanted to see included in the bill.

In one letter, we also emphasized the value of bipartisanship, stating, “Bipartisanship is something that is important to us, and we know it’s not something that just happens. You have to work at it, and doing that work is essential to a vibrant, thriving democracy. It is also popular. Poll after poll shows us that the American people want their representatives to work together to form policy, and are more inclined to look favorably on bipartisan legislation.”

To help get the package across the finish line, CCL’s Government Affairs staff members directly lobbied congressional offices in support of the legislation. In addition to Danny, Senior Director of Government Affairs Ben Pendergrass and Director of Government Affairs Jen Tyler met with offices to convey CCL’s stance that there were valuable climate provisions in the bill, and they expressed CCL’s support for its passage.

Our D.C. staff also sent several “whip emails” to congressional offices, indicating CCL’s support of the BIF and urging offices to vote in favor when it came to the floor.

At the end of the day, Ben says, his takeaway from BIF’s passage is this: “Big, bipartisan things can get done.” CCL has always pushed for climate change to be a bridge issue between the parties, rather than a wedge issue, and the success of this bipartisan package is another step toward that reality.

What’s next?

We’re encouraged to see the climate provisions included in this infrastructure legislation, and we’re proud of the work our volunteers did to help build additional support and push this across the finish line. 

But it’s clear that much more legislation is needed to keep America’s promise of reducing our climate-changing emissions 50% by 2030. That’s why our volunteers have been persistent in contacting the Senate, the House, and President Biden in recent months, urging them all to support a price on carbon in the next big piece of legislation on the table: the budget reconciliation bill, also referred to as the “Build Back Better” bill.

And the latest news on that front is incredibly promising. Just this weekend, Bloomberg reported that 49 senators, the House, and the White House are all on board with a carbon fee in the budget. “We have 49 out of 50 votes” from Democrats in the Senate, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told the journalist. If the Senate passes it, he said, “the House has assured us they will also pass it, and the White House has assured us the president will sign it into law.”

As Tony reminded volunteers, “We would not be seeing this level of support in Congress without all the work of CCLers both in the last few weeks and months, and over the last decade of advocacy. You all are amazing!”

Have you reached out to your senators and representative yet? Visit cclusa.org/action for easy online tools you can use to make your voice heard today. 

Let’s celebrate securing some climate wins in the infrastructure bill, and let’s keep the momentum going for a budget bill that delivers the emissions cuts we need.

The post Infrastructure bill becomes law, includes two CCL secondary asks appeared first on Citizens' Climate Lobby.

Posted in Uncategorized

Renewable energy in the U.S. nearly quadrupled in the past decade, report finds

Cost of Capital Cramps Fossil Industry

Bloomberg: Ten years ago, the “cost of capital” for developing oil and gas as compared to renewable projects was pretty much the same, falling consistently between 8% and 10%. But not anymore. The threshold of projected return that can financially justify a new oil project is now at 20% for long-cycle developments, while for renewables it’s dropped […]

Infrastructure bill becomes law, includes two CCL secondary asks

Infrastructure bill becomes law, includes two CCL secondary asks

Infrastructure bill becomes law, includes two CCL secondary asks

By Flannery Winchester

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives took a much-anticipated vote on a major infrastructure bill. The bill, which is officially named the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is often referred to as the “bipartisan infrastructure framework” or “BIF” for short. 

The BIF passed with 228 supporting votes.

All but six House Democrats voted for the bill, joined by 13 House Republicans. Several of those 13 are familiar names from the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, such as Reps. Bacon, Fitzpatrick, Katko, Reed, and Upton.

Earlier this year, 50 Senate Democrats and 19 Senate Republicans voted together to pass the BIF through their chamber. Again, this list includes Senators with a history of engaging on climate issues, including all the Democratic members of the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus and most of their Republican counterparts, Sens. Murkowski, Romney, Graham, Collins, and Portman.

The bill will now head to President Biden, who will officially sign it into law.

“​​This should free up Congress to focus fully on the budget reconciliation process,” CCL Strategy Director, Tony Sirna, explained in a post on CCL Community. That’s good news, because we are pushing hard for a price on carbon to be included in that budget reconciliation package.

But before we discuss what’s next, let’s take a closer look at the climate provisions included in BIF and how CCL’s efforts helped this important legislation become law.

Climate provisions in BIF

The infrastructure package is not specifically a climate bill — its primary goal was not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — but it does include some climate provisions that we should celebrate. The investments come in the areas of alternative vehicles, public transit, research and innovation, and energy infrastructure. Here are a few examples of the funding included:

    • Alternative vehicles – $2.5 billion over five years for grants for electric vehicle charging stations and alternative fuel infrastructure
    • Public transit – $2.34 billion for low- or zero-emission bus grants
    • Energy infrastructure –  $3.5 billion over five years for Energy Department financial support for projects that help develop four regional hubs to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transport, store, and use it.

CCL’s legislative staff compiled a thorough summary of these and many other climate-related provisions that were included, so check that out for a deeper dive.

CCL efforts helped shape and pass the bill

Exciting for CCL is that provisions from the Hope for Homes Act and the Storing CO2 And Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act were also included in the BIF. These bills were some of CCL’s supporting asks in our June 2021 lobby meetings and throughout the summer. 

As CCL volunteers have called and emailed their representatives in recent months, those with Republican House members have been requesting their support on this infrastructure package, helping ensure that the House vote was bipartisan.

“The inclusion of these measures shows that CCL’s volunteer lobbying has an impact,” says Dr. Danny Richter, CCL’s VP of Government Affairs. “This is a powerful reminder of why CCL supports other bipartisan climate bills — because we can make a difference.”

In addition to volunteers lobbying on these provisions, CCL also contributed to coalition letters laying out climate measures we and other groups wanted to see included in the bill.

In one letter, we also emphasized the value of bipartisanship, stating, “Bipartisanship is something that is important to us, and we know it’s not something that just happens. You have to work at it, and doing that work is essential to a vibrant, thriving democracy. It is also popular. Poll after poll shows us that the American people want their representatives to work together to form policy, and are more inclined to look favorably on bipartisan legislation.”

To help get the package across the finish line, CCL’s Government Affairs staff members directly lobbied congressional offices in support of the legislation. In addition to Danny, Senior Director of Government Affairs Ben Pendergrass and Director of Government Affairs Jen Tyler met with offices to convey CCL’s stance that there were valuable climate provisions in the bill, and they expressed CCL’s support for its passage.

Our D.C. staff also sent several “whip emails” to congressional offices, indicating CCL’s support of the BIF and urging offices to vote in favor when it came to the floor.

At the end of the day, Ben says, his takeaway from BIF’s passage is this: “Big, bipartisan things can get done.” CCL has always pushed for climate change to be a bridge issue between the parties, rather than a wedge issue, and the success of this bipartisan package is another step toward that reality.

What’s next?

We’re encouraged to see the climate provisions included in this infrastructure legislation, and we’re proud of the work our volunteers did to help build additional support and push this across the finish line. 

But it’s clear that much more legislation is needed to keep America’s promise of reducing our climate-changing emissions 50% by 2030. That’s why our volunteers have been persistent in contacting the Senate, the House, and President Biden in recent months, urging them all to support a price on carbon in the next big piece of legislation on the table: the budget reconciliation bill, also referred to as the “Build Back Better” bill.

And the latest news on that front is incredibly promising. Just this weekend, Bloomberg reported that 49 senators, the House, and the White House are all on board with a carbon fee in the budget. “We have 49 out of 50 votes” from Democrats in the Senate, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told the journalist. If the Senate passes it, he said, “the House has assured us they will also pass it, and the White House has assured us the president will sign it into law.”

As Tony reminded volunteers, “We would not be seeing this level of support in Congress without all the work of CCLers both in the last few weeks and months, and over the last decade of advocacy. You all are amazing!”

Have you reached out to your senators and representative yet? Visit cclusa.org/action for easy online tools you can use to make your voice heard today. 

Let’s celebrate securing some climate wins in the infrastructure bill, and let’s keep the momentum going for a budget bill that delivers the emissions cuts we need.

The post Infrastructure bill becomes law, includes two CCL secondary asks appeared first on Citizens' Climate Lobby.

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe talks “Saving Us” with CCL

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe talks "Saving Us" with CCL

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe talks “Saving Us” with CCL

By Katie Zakrzewski

At the end of October, climate scientist and CCL advisory board member Dr. Katharine Hayhoe held an exclusive Q&A with CCL on her new book, “Saving Us.”

In “Saving Us,” Dr. Hayhoe argues that when it comes to changing peoples’ minds on climate change, facts are only half the battle: we have to find common ground in order to connect a host of diverse and unique identities to collective action. “Saving Us” provides a look at science, faith, and psychology, and how these factors come together to impact climate action.

Watch the Q&A here, or read on for the highlights:

Why is the book called ‘Saving Us’?

“Normally when you see a book about climate change, you’re going to see it called something like ‘Saving the Planet,’ or ‘Saving the Trees,’ or Saving the Whales.’ I called it ‘Saving Us’ because it is not about saving the planet,” Dr. Hayhoe explains. “The planet will be orbiting the sun long after we are gone…the planet doesn’t need us. In fact, it might be better off, arguably, without us. We are the ones who need to be saved.” 

What gives Dr. Hayhoe hope?

Dr. Hayhoe acknowledges that in an era of political divide, social injustice, and economic uncertainty, it can be hard to find hope. But she explains that the hope she has is a unique one.

“I’m talking about a hope where we look the problem in the face, recognize that things are bad, and we recognize what is at stake,” Dr. Hayhoe says. “What hope offers is the chance of a better future. And what determines that chance? How hard we fight for it.”

How do we get people to care about climate change, and to act?

Dr. Hayhoe says, “To care about climate change, we only have to be one thing: a human being living on planet earth.”

Still, there can be uncertainty on how to dive into tackling an issue so broad. “In the U.S., over 50 percent of people feel helpless and don’t know where to start when it comes to climate action,” Dr. Hayhoe explains. “Until they come to Citizens’ Climate Lobby. You are meeting the exact needs that people have.”

One of the greatest antidotes to despair, Dr. Hayhoe explains, is action. “Action and hope are intimately connected. What gives us hope? When we know what to do. Where do we start? It’s not educating people that global warming is happening…it’s that we’re not talking about it.”

How do we talk about climate change?

Dr. Hayhoe further explains another reason why she wrote “Saving Us”: to guide people on how to talk to others about climate change. “We can’t just overload people with scary facts. If people are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do or how to fix it, they’ll disassociate.”

Dr. Hayhoe acknowledges that people who are involved in their communities might not have climate change on their to do list. “People have very good priorities, and they think that climate change can wait. But climate change is an everything issue. It affects everything on our list.”

She encourages people to start climate conversations by talking about who they are with people like them, whether they’re a dancer, knitter, gardener, musician or a hockey player. If you can connect to people on a basic concrete level who share passions with you, you can talk about the positive things that are already happening in climate. 

It’s easier to advocate for change when you’re doing it with other people. That, Dr. Hayhoe says, is where CCL and CCL volunteers do an excellent job changing the face of climate discussion.

To see the rest of Dr. Hayhoe’s climate presentation and Q&A, check out this video.

The post Dr. Katharine Hayhoe talks “Saving Us” with CCL appeared first on Citizens' Climate Lobby.

Emission Reductions From Pandemic Had Unexpected Effects on Atmosphere

In Brief:

Earth’s atmosphere reacted in surprising ways to the lowering of emissions during the pandemic, showing how closely climate warming and air pollution are linked.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting limitations on travel and other economic sectors by countries around the globe drastically decreased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions within just a few weeks. That sudden change gave scientists an unprecedented view of results that would take regulations years to achieve.

A comprehensive new survey of the effects of the pandemic on the atmosphere, using satellite data from NASA and other international space agencies, reveals some unexpected findings. The study also offers insights into addressing the dual threats of climate warming and air pollution. “We’re past the point where we can think of these as two separate problems,” said Joshua Laughner, lead author of the new study and a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech in Pasadena, California. “To understand what is driving changes to the atmosphere, we must consider how air quality and climate influence each other.”

Published Nov. 9 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the paper grew from a workshop sponsored by Caltech’s W.M. Keck Institute for Space Studies, led by scientists at that institution and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which is managed by Caltech. Participants from about 20 U.S. and international universities, federal and state agencies, and laboratories pinpointed four atmospheric components for in-depth study: the two most important greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane; and two air pollutants, nitrogen oxides and microscopic nitrate particles.

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Carbon Dioxide

The most surprising result, the authors noted, is that while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell by 5.4% in 2020, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continued to grow at about the same rate as in preceding years. “During previous socioeconomic disruptions, like the 1973 oil shortage, you could immediately see a change in the growth rate of CO2,” said David Schimel, head of JPL’s carbon group and a co-author of the study. “We all expected to see it this time, too.”

Using data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite launched in 2014 and the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System atmospheric model, the researchers identified several reasons for this result. First, while the 5.4% drop in emissions was significant, the growth in atmospheric concentrations was within the normal range of year-to-year variation caused by natural processes. Also, the ocean didn’t absorb as much CO2 from the atmosphere as it has in recent years – probably in an unexpectedly rapid response to the reduced pressure of CO2 in the air at the ocean’s surface.

Air Pollutants and Methane

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of sunlight can react with other atmospheric compounds to create ozone, a danger to human, animal, and plant health. That’s by no means their only reaction, however. “NOx chemistry is this incredibly complicated ball of yarn, where you tug on one part and five other parts change,” said Laughner.

As reported earlier, COVID-related drops in NOx quickly led to a global reduction in ozone. The new study used satellite measurements of a variety of pollutants to uncover a less-positive effect of limiting NOx. That pollutant reacts to form a short-lived molecule called the hydroxyl radical, which plays an important role in breaking down long-lived gases in the atmosphere. By reducing NOx emissions – as beneficial as that was in cleaning up air pollution – the pandemic also limited the atmosphere's ability to cleanse itself of another important greenhouse gas: methane.

Molecule for molecule, methane is far more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Estimates of how much methane emissions dropped during the pandemic are uncertain because some human causes, such as poor maintenance of oilfield infrastructure, are not well documented, but one study calculated that the reduction was 10%.

However, as with CO2, the drop in emissions didn’t decrease the concentration of methane in the atmosphere. Instead, methane grew by 0.3% in the past year – a faster rate than at any other time in the last decade. With less NOx, there was less hydroxyl radical to scrub methane away, so it stayed in the atmosphere longer.

Lessons From the Pandemic

The study took a step back to ask what the pandemic could teach about how a lower-emissions future might look and how the world might get there.

Notably, emissions returned to near-pre-pandemic levels by the latter part of 2020, despite reduced activity in many sectors of the economy. The authors reason that this rebound in emissions was probably necessary for businesses and individuals to maintain even limited economic productivity, using the worldwide energy infrastructure that exists today. “This suggests that reducing activity in these industrial and residential sectors is not practical in the short term” as a means of cutting emissions, the study noted. “Reducing these sectors’ emissions permanently will require their transition to low-carbon-emitting technology.”

News Media Contacts

Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-0307 / 818-354-2649
jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

Whitney Clavin
Caltech
626-395-1944
wclavin@caltech.edu

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