More Than 200 Congressional Staffers Demand Action on Clean Energy Deal

Source: By Kevin Simauchi, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2022

In a letter, they urged Democratic leaders to move forward with an historic climate package.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, during a news conference on climate action outside the US Capitol in November 2021.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, during a news conference on climate action outside the US Capitol in November 2021. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

More than 200 congressional staffers sent a letter to democratic leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday, pressuring them to expedite a deal that would prioritize action on climate and clean energy.

Read the full letter here.

“A lot of us don’t feel comfortable sitting in these halls, being lucky to have these jobs and not saying anything,” said Saul Levin, who is a coordinator for the Climate Working Group of the Congressional Progressive Staff Association.

The letter was born out of a frustration with how slow Congress has been to take steps to address climate change, Levin said. It warns lawmakers that inaction is already having dire consequences for voters around the US.

“In congressional districts around the country, we’ve witnessed the constituents we serve suffer from dramatic increases in wildfires, hurricanes, heat waves, and drought,” the letter continued. “If we are already witnessing the consequences of inaction in your lifetime, we can scarcely imagine what we will face in ours.”

Schumer, Manchin, and Pelosi’s offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

‘One Senator’

Any hopes of passing climate change-related laws rely on the approval of a key holdout, Senator Joe Manchin. The letter comes as Schumer and the Biden administration are negotiating with the West Virginia Democrat on a spending package that aims to tackle inflation, climate change and prescription drug costs. So far, Senate Democrats and Biden administration officials have signaled they would consider new oil and gas drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Alaska coast to get Manchin’s support.

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Senator Joe Manchin. Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg

Manchin has not yet declared his support for energy items. The House in November passed a bill with $550 billion in funding for climate-related initiatives, and the Senate is trying to pare that back to appease Manchin. Direct-pay subsidies to renewable energy firms and expanded tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles are on the possible chopping block.

The authors of the letter allude to their grievances with Manchin’s stranglehold on Biden and Democrats’ climate and energy ambitions.

“Will you act now, or will you be forever remembered for your failure to outmatch one Senator and a handful of corporate lobbyists?” the letter reads.