Written by: Madison Mayhew, IPL Federal Policy Advocate
Happy New Year! 2023 started with a bang after a historically tumultuous journey to name a new Speaker of the House. With a slim majority, House Republicans have passed their rules package, which determines how the chamber will operate over the next two years during the 118th Congress. Due to the fractured state of the Republican party, these rules were negotiated as favors to extremists who deny the climate crisis and our election results. The full list of concessions made within the package are still being revealed, but we know there are several concerning provisions, including a rule that would make it easier for the House to consider bills that giveaway public lands. Read more here.
The Latest on Climate Policy
Thanks to the tireless efforts of grassroots leaders and faithful climate champions, we defeated Senator Manchin’s dirty deal after his four attempts to attach it to must pass legislation last year. This was a huge victory to protect bedrock environmental policies and uphold environmental justice.
We know permitting reform is necessary in the transition to clean energy, but we must not compromise on any proposals that would create sacrifice zones by placing frontline and marginalized groups at risk of toxic pollution. We will fight for any permitting reform solutions to be rooted in equity and environmental justice.
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA)
After the valiant effort by advocates and partners, we were disappointed to see RAWA fail to make it into the appropriations package at the end of the year. This bipartisan bill would have provided historic levels of funding to address the extinction crisis.
Despite the change in House leadership, we know there is still strong bipartisan support for this bill, and have heard from our partners that there is interest in re-introducing RAWA in the 118th Congress. We will continue to monitor its progress and will provide updates as they become available.
We need the Biden administration to use every lever available to it to advance environmental justice and reduce climate pollution. IPL expects this to be our biggest climate opportunity in 2023. The administration is beginning to move a number of rules, as you’ll see below, but many of the expected rules have been delayed. We expect that the first part of this year we’ll see several moving on similar timelines. IPL will be working to draw attention to the need for the strongest rules possible through public comment and hearing turnout.
EPA Proposed Soot Pollution Rule
The EPA has announced they’re beginning a rulemaking process for a new soot (particulate matter 2.5) standard. Soot is a dangerous and deadly pollutant that is produced by power plants, tailpipes on cars and trucks, and other industrial sources, and threatens public health and the environment — posing particular risks for children, seniors and people with chronic illness. Soot is a highly inequitably spread pollutant, with its burdens falling especially to low-wealth communities and communities of color.
While the EPA proposed strengthening the standard, the proposal falls short of adequately slashing soot pollution, protecting public health, or preventing premature deaths. We will need to push in the comment period for EPA to strengthen it in their final rule.
IPL will be encouraging people to submit public comment on the rule and sign up to testify at virtual hearings. Stay tuned for an alert and email on this.
IPL is also circulating this faith leader comment letter. Please invite the faith leaders in your network to add their names.
Methane Pollution Proposed Rules
Methane pollution from the oil and gas sector is accelerating the pace of climate change and harming the health of our families and communities across the country. A recently released supplemental draft rule improves on the original draft rule released by EPA in 2021. But there are still some areas that could be stronger. We have an opportunity to comment and strengthen a few key parts of the draft rule.
New IPL Resources on Federal Funding Opportunities for Faith Communities
As we are beginning to see the climate investments from the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act roll out, IPL is tracking resources that can be utilized by faith communities. Bookmark this new resource page on IPL’s website.
A new one pager is available here and Spansh will also be available soon.
Comment on EPA’s Supplemental Methane Rule
Communities on the frontlines of oil and gas production bear the burden of methane pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposal to cut methane prioritizes their health and safety. Raise your voice by submitting a comment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the strongest possible safeguards and share this with your faith community. Submit a comment here and share this Facebook post with your community.
Wishing you all renewed hope and joy in this new year!