Washington Report – April 2023

Apr 5, 2023 | Uncategorized

Written by: Madison Mayhew, IPL Federal Policy Advocate

Wishing our Jewish friends a joyous Passover, and a meaningful Holy Week for our Christian friends. 

Congress is currently in recess for home work periods, which means Capitol Hill offices are likely full of furry assistants. It is commonplace for DC staffers to bring their dogs to work whenever Members of Congress are in their home district, bringing much needed joy to the halls of both chambers. 

Outside of the Capitol, DC just finished celebrating the National Cherry Blossom Festival. A major highlight of the celebration is the National Kite Festival. Thousands of people descend onto the mall to partake in the annual tradition, where beautiful and innovative kite designs fill the sky for hours. It was a wonderful way to begin Spring! 

The Latest on Climate Policy

Permitting reform/H.R.1

Last week, the House passed an energy package titled the Lower Energy Savings Act. Four Democrats — including Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.) and Jared Golden (Maine) — voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) was the only Republican to vote against it.

Although the measure has been sent to the Senate, Democratic Leader Schumer has said it is “dead-on-arrival.”

The package would bolster fossil fuel production and exports, as well as domestic mining, and would aim to speed up the approval process for energy and other infrastructure projects. Additionally, it would repeal some programs in the Inflation Reduction Act, including eliminating the Greenhouse Reduction Fund. And while the bill is not expected to advance further, it serves as a starting point for GOP lawmakers as they seek to negotiate with Democrats on permitting reform legislation. 

Permitting reform remains a top priority across parties and Chambers. Sen. Markey has released his plan for a path forward, outlining ways to build on the historic levels of funding for environmental justice and the National Environmental Policy Act implementation through the IRA. 

Additionally, Rep. Casten and Rep. Levin plan to introduce the Clean Electricity Transmission Acceleration Act of 2023, which would rely heavily on giving new authorities to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, prioritizing emission-reducing initiatives, mandating input from front-line communities and creating new offices to streamline the greenlighting of projects. Casten and Levin are working on finalizing the text, and are reaching out to offices who have made previous permitting proposals. Stay tuned for more details!

IPL is working with partners to identify key opportunities of action, and call for permitting reform rooted in equity and environmental justice. 

Farm Bill 

The current Farm Bill is set to expire in September of this year. Congress is in the process of holding hearings to inform the next iteration of the bill. Check out EESI’s helpful breakdown of the hearings so far

IPL is working with partners on finalizing Farm Bill FAITH principles that we will be using in our advocacy, especially during our lobby day later next month. Later this month, we’ll have a Faithful Farm Bill webinar with several key partners. Details below. 

EPA Rules

Interfaith Power & Light and Sisters of Mercy delivered the faith leader soot comment letter signed by over 700 faith leaders to EPA’s Washington D.C office on March 23rd, calling on EPA to prioritize the needs of those most vulnerable among us by strengthening its proposed soot rule. Help keep the pressure on EPA by sharing this tweet. GIPL and PAIPL also delivered the letter to regional EPA offices in their states.

Up next — We are expecting the vehicle and truck standards to potentially be finalized in April. The first suite of rules on carbon pollution from power plants are expected at the end of April or early May. IPL will be heavily engaged on the carbon pollution rules – stay tuned for information on how you can engage your communities around this rule.

EPA HDV Waiver

After months of deliberation, EPA has granted California’s heavy duty vehicle waiver! We applaud EPA for this decision, which allows states across the country to adopt California’s more stringent emissions standards. California and other states that choose to adopt the Advanced Clean Trucks rule granted by the waiver will require that 55% of delivery vans and small trucks, 75% of buses and larger trucks, and 40% of tractor trailers and other big rigs sold in the state be battery-electric by 2035. This is a huge win for clean air nationwide!

Toyota Delivery

On April 11th, IPL national staff and volunteers will deliver our letter to Toyota headquarters in Plano, TX calling on them to commit to 100% electric vehicles by 2035, with a focus on affordability and accessibility. Stay tuned on our social media platforms for live updates!

Action opportunities

Defining a Faithful Farm Bill to Protect our Climate Webinar 

As people of faith and conscience, we are called to promote the dignity and worth of all people in harmony with the environment. Our food and agriculture system is vulnerable to climate change and is also a leading contributor to the climate crisis. For too long, a small number of powerful corporations have influenced what farmers grow, often pushing farms towards conventional agricultural practices. Policies to end hunger and regulate agriculture in the U.S. must align with our goals to address climate change. The Farm Bill— an enormous multibillion-dollar bill passed every five years, presents an opportunity for faith communities to urge Congress to champion a climate-conscious, faithful, and just transition in our food and agriculture system.

Join us for a Faithful Farm Bill Briefing to: 

  • Understand the scope of the Farm Bill 
  • Learn about the climate implications of the Farm Bill 
  • Discover ways to take action to promote a Faithful Farm bill with fair, just and equitable solutions.

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