There are two big national initiatives right now, as of two days ago, to address the climate crisis:
-the call for and organizing to press Biden to declare a climate emergency and then use his Presidential powers unlocked by that to take a series of badly-needed actions, and
-the Biden/Manchin/Schumer/Pelosi “Inflation Reduction Act,” and, announced the same day, the commitment by Biden/Pelosi/Schumer to pass companion legislation by September 30th. Here’s how that projected companion legislation was described by Manchin in a public statement: “President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have committed to advancing a suite of commonsense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built to deliver energy safely around the country and to our allies.”
Transmission is one thing, pipelines and export facilities another completely. We don’t need more pipelines and export facilities! The International Energy Agency said last year that there should be no more expansion of the fossil fuel industry, as did the Pope about a week ago!
So what should those of us do who get it both on the urgency of the climate crisis and on the need for climate action now which consciously incorporates an environmental justice, race and class lens?
I have not read the 750 page Inflation Reduction Act legislation. I have read several analyses of it by people who have. On that basis it is clear that there are good things and bad things in it. Without question it is a compromise that benefits Manchin and the fossil fuel industry while also doing good things as far as the needed shift from fossil fuels to renewables. It is, truly, “all of the above” legislation, which, frankly, is not what we need right now.
So what should people like Sanders and Warren and AOC and Bush and others who have been champions of climate action at the scale of the problem do when it comes up for a vote? I’d say that, right now, one key thing to do is find out more about this “suite of commonsense permitting reforms,” in Manchin’s words.
If Manchin is going to use his very unfortunate power in the existing Senate—which, by the way, six months from now could be a different reality if the Democrats have 52 or more Senators, a definite possibility–to prevent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act until those “commonsense permitting reforms” are passed—September 30 is a date I saw in the news—that’s a big problem, a very big problem. It means what is now going on is almost certainly just the latest maddening maneuvering by Manchin which, if those “reforms” are not as strong as he wants them to be, then he will end up, once again, after stringing Biden, Congress, climate and progressive activists and the country along, vote no on the “all of the above” compromise. That will not be a good thing for efforts to defeat the Republicans on November 8.
So where I come out right now on all of this is for everyone who gets it on climate to rally behind the call by the 1200 organization strong network, People Vs. Fossils Fuels, for actions on August 2, next week, demanding that Biden declare a Climate Emergency.
The last thing needed right now is for us all to get bogged down in back-and-forth debate for days and weeks over this Manchin/Biden/Pelosi/Schumer initiative. We need to press hard and publicly and right now for what is actually needed, and that is a Climate Emergency declaration. We need actions all over the country now and a continuing drumbeat for action at the scale of the problem: President Biden, Declare a Climate Emergency!
Ted Glick is an organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy, President of 350NJ-Rockland and author of the recently published books, Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution. More info can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.