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Washington Report – December 2023

Dec 7, 2023 | Blog, Washington Report

Written by: Madison Mayhew, IPL Federal Policy Manager

We know this is a time of grief and sorrow for many. We are pained by the horror abroad and the growing strife at home. Even amidst our ongoing heartbreak, our work to advance climate justice continues.

As we reflect over this last year, we can hold both sorrow and joy. There is joy in all we have accomplished together. Our faithful grassroots advocates have helped us push strong climate policy forward in a very busy year! We’ve submitted comments to the EPA and BLM for strong rules around soot, carbon pollution, drilling in the arctic and more! 

We advocated for strong climate provisions in the Farm Bill and called on Members of Congress to protect IRA funding and programs in the Federal Budget.   

We stood with frontline and environmental justice communities to call on President Biden to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline, while pushing Congress to pass equitable permitting reform to advance a renewable future.

One of the highlights of the year was gathering in DC with over 30 affiliates for our National Conference! Our Day on the Hill included over 100 meetings with 29 affiliates, and an additional 63 office drop bys. A few folks were able to meet their Members and Senators! 

The Latest on Climate Policy

Legislation 

Appropriations

As December begins, many are relieved that Congress will not continue an unwanted year-end tradition: flirting with fiscal cliffs. The federal government is now funded in a short term CR – nearly half of the government funded through January 19th and the other half through February 2nd. When Congress returns from the holiday break, there will be a big uphill climb to pass a budget in both chambers.

We’re continuing to keep an eye on negotiations, but a top priority is protecting the $20 Billion in the IRA for conservation, and other key IRA programs. We want to ensure funding for the IRA remains robust AND we want a CLEAN budget without any poison pills. Checkout our faith based approps toolkit here for additional messaging guidance.

Farm Bill

The short term budget CR included a one year extension of the Farm Bill. At the end of November, IPL met with Sen. Boozman’s staff, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture committee, who shared that they’re hoping to pass a bill in the beginning of the year. 

IPL is continuing to advocate for a series of marker bills including: 

  • The Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act
  • The Agricultural Resilience Act
  • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Improvement Act 
  • And Protecting the $20 Billion set aside in the Inflation Reduction Act for climate smart agriculture 

All of these bills help address conservation needs in the Farm Bill, and support small and medium scale farmers in implementing regenerative agriculture practices that are beneficial for our food systems and our climate goals. 

Anti-EV Legislation, H.R. 4468

A bill targeting the Clean Air Act will likely be coming to the House floor next week. It would aims to prevent the EPA from finalizing, implementing, or enforcing the Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Light-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles (model years 2027 and later), which were proposed this past May.

As the largest source of climate pollution and a major source of health-harming pollution in the U.S, it is vital to set strong transportation emission standards for cleaner cars to protect communities from the dangers of climate change and air pollution. Strong emission standards support the booming transition to cleaner cars, which are already saving families hard-earned money on fuel, creating millions of good-paying jobs, and reducing unhealthy pollution. This bill would stem that tide of progress.

The list of target House Representatives are: Yadira Caraveo (CO), Jim Costa (CA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Donald Davis (NC), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA), Jared Golden (ME), and Mary Peltola (AK). If you live in these districts, please contact their offices to vote no! Please reach out if you need additional information.

Administrative 

EPA Final Methane Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final rules to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations throughout the United States. Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) supports the EPA in taking these common-sense steps to reduce methane that was being wasted by the oil & gas industry. Read IPL’s statement here. 

The Methane Emissions Reduction Program (MERP) draft is expected from EPA very soon. There will be a 60 day comment period once it is published in the Federal register. IPL will plan to do a national email alert on the comment period. A final rule is anticipated in the Spring.

EPA Soot Rule

The EPA is expected to release the final soot pollution rule in the next month. The fossil fuel industry is lobbying hard to weaken it. Contacts with the White House and EPA in support of a strong rule that communities need are timely right now.

COP28

The first day of COP28 started with a historic decision to establish a Loss and Damage Fund to help countries address the irreparable impacts of ongoing climate change on tangible and intangible assets. Loss and Damage negotiations have been ongoing since COP27 in Egypt and the text of today’s decision has been available for weeks; nevertheless, this was the first time the COP has adopted a decision on Day One. It’s a big deal. 

Moreover, the establishment of the fund was followed swiftly by pledges from countries to contribute to the fund so it could become operational quickly. UAE pledged $100M US. Germany also pledged $100M US. The UK pledged £60M. The US pledged $17.5M, a much smaller amount compared to other pledges.

However, Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled a massively increased pledge of $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund on day 3 of the summit. During the announcement, Vice President Harris shared her commitment with attendees, emphasizing the personal nature of this pledge. The $3 billion commitment is intended to enhance the country’s efforts in supporting developing nations grappling with the far-reaching impacts of climate change. 

While both the Loss and Damage Fund commitment and the $3 billion climate pledge are significant, Congress has to approve the budget requests from the administration.

Join us in celebrating a huge victory in New Mexico as the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board adopted California’s clean car and truck standards, commonly known as the Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks standards, until 2032. These standards are the most stringent in the country, and allow states to clean up their air quality while reducing carbon emissions and protecting communities. Thank you to NMIPL for your tireless work on this critical issue!

Action Opportunities

What’s on Deck for Climate Policy in 2024 Briefing

Jan. 25th 4pm ET

IPL’s policy team will provide a 2024 climate policy analysis and an update on our policy priorities going into the new year. Stay tuned for registration info for the briefing in the coming weeks.

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Wishing everyone a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year!

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