Capitol Light/Climate Politics (Today’s ten)


Original appeared at Civil Notion

Capitol Light/Climate Politics (Today’s ten)

Joel Stronberg, Esq.
By Joel Stronberg, Esq. and 09/19/23

The drama in Washington is all about the looming end of the federal fiscal year. All eyes are focused on House Speaker McCarthy and whether he can deliver enough votes to keep the government open come October 1st. The short-term target of Congress and the White House is the passage of a continuing resolution to give them more time to come up with a longer-term solution—which is likely to be another continuing resolution. Congress has not been good at passing the 12 separate appropriations bills for the past quarter century.

McCarthy has a tough row ahead of him. The far-right members of the Republican conference are digging their heels in wanting to add to any short-term resolution several of their legislative priorities, including immigration policy, no further aid for Ukraine, and reduced budgets for defense.

Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has threatened McCarthy with a motion to vacate the chair. Passage of the motion would remove the speaker. Gaetz was one of the last to vote for McCarthy and like others in the House Freedom Caucus believe he made promises he’s now not keeping. To his credit, the speaker told him to bring it on.

The track record of the House Freedom Caucus is pretty impressive when it comes to bucking moderate leadership. These populists quite literally chased former speakers Boehner (R-OH) and Ryan (R-WI) out of Congress. They too had trouble with far-righters and became frustrated by the inability to get much done. Why McCarthy might think he can do what his predecessors couldn’t is something of a mystery.

The UN meetings on climate and sustainable development goals has brought out hundreds of thousands of demonstrators worldwide. Many have Biden in their sights over his continuing to open federal lands and oceans to oil and gas and companies—among other things.

The message of climate activists is focused on stopping the use of fossil fuels—NOW. They’re right to say that successfully combating climate change means no more fossil fuels. The longer we wait the harsher will be the options for responding to a warming climate. The problem, of course, is getting policies passed that are significantly farther reaching than even the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The hyperpartisanship that now dominates American politics means passing the needed policies just isn’t going to happen. Republican ideology is that climate change isn’t that much of a problem and is part of progressive socialist agenda. It is important, too, to understand that implementing new policies will a take a fair amount of time. New regulations would need to be written and finalized. Agencies would have to staff up and develop program guidelines.

The Biden administration’s experiences with the IRA are an example of the difficulty of implementation. Trump caused many senior and experienced government executives to leave their agencies. Even now agencies are understaffed. Could the administration’s efforts be improved? They could, but the fact remains that implementation of any new policies will take years not months.

On to today’s ten.

At a stop sign. The president has highlighted his pro-union credentials, but inflation has eroded blue-collar livelihoods and chilled support for the president on the picket lines. (New York Times)

Shirkers all. António Guterres has spoken sharply of “planet wreckers” ahead of this week’s United Nations climate summit, but politics makes it tricky to get specific. (New York Times)

Roll faster. More than 60 Democrats are calling on the Biden administration to move swiftly in its rollout of consumer rebates for energy-efficient home upgrades, warning that the current pace could lead to the “potential loss of two years of rebates.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) slammed President Biden’s energy policies, placing blame on his administration for relying too much on the country’s “enemies.” (The Hill)

Hardly what’s needed. McCarthy also bragged about his House energy package, passed in March, which included measures to boost fossil fuel production, reduce regulation and increase mining. The measure, however, has yet to receive a vote in the Senate. (The Hill)

Cash short. The Biden administration has allocated billions of federal dollars towards new offshore wind projects, but both project developers and governors are arguing it’s not nearly enough cash for the massive build-outs—threatening near-term projects unless it helps foot the bill for higher costs and eases requirements for IRA tax credits.

The wind don’t blow. The projects—key to President Joe Biden’s goal of reaching 30,000 GW offshore wind capacity by 2030— are struggling to come online as developers hit unforeseen snags, including supply chain delays, soaring materials costs and high interest rates.

Equinor, Orsted, BP, Shell and other major developers have either canceled or amended planned offshore projects because of these problems. And more projects could be at risk. (Washington Examiner)

What a gas. The House Rules Committee is scheduled Monday to consider a bill that would repeal restrictions on the export and import of natural gas. The White House released a statement voicing its opposition to the bill – but stopped short of saying it would veto the measure.

The bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio, would rescind certain restrictions under the Natural Gas Act, including restrictions related to free trade agreements. The legislation would also grant the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the exclusive authority of overseeing facilities’ operations to export or import natural gas.

The White House came out in opposition to the bill Monday, arguing that the measure would eliminate consideration of whether certain exports of natural gas are consistent with public interest. (Washington Examiner)

Down a lazy river. Increases in federal flood insurance premiums that are projected to surpass 700% over the coming years are already leading people to back out of home purchases and will likely lead to an exodus of residents and businesses from southern Louisiana, officials told a federal judge Thursday in New Orleans. (Associated Press)

Tribal power. The Environmental Protection Agency gave states and tribes more authority to block energy projects that could pollute nearby rivers and streams as part of a final rule set to take effect in November. The rule – which comes after an earlier Supreme Court decision, Sackett v. EPA, weakened wetland protections – reverses a Trump-era regulation that limited the ability for states and tribes to review federally regulated projects, such as pipelines and dams, within their borders. (The Associated Press)  

Internal combustion. The House, in a 222-190 vote, passed a measure that would prohibit states from phasing out the sale of gas-powered cars, while also rescinding federal approvals for states to implement the phaseouts. The measure – which takes aim at California’s phaseout plan, despite not explicitly mentioning the state – is not expected to advance in the Democratic-led Senate. (The Hill)