Written by: Madison Mayhew, IPL Federal Policy Manager
Like many other communities across the country, Washington DC experienced a long snowstorm in January, which allowed people of all ages to experience the joy of sledding down Capitol Hill! Congresswoman Eleanor Norton Holmes, DC’s Delegate to the U.S. House, has fought hard to preserve the right for local residents to partake in this beloved winter tradition.
The Latest on Climate Policy
Last month, Congress passed a short term funding package that will expire the first week of March. As a quick refresher, this is now the third short term budget package, also known as a CR, that Congress has passed since the original funding deadline last September.
In a traditional budget process, Congress passes 12 appropriations titles that make up the entire budget package. Last year, during one of the many budget fights, Republican lawmakers signaled alarming funding cuts in their proposed FY24 Interior Bill that included a significant reduction in funding for programs that protect wildlife, fight climate change, keep our air clean, and protect public health. They even went as far to propose Cutting the Environmental Protection Agency funding to its lowest levels in more than 30 years, and completely eliminating environmental justice programs.
As Congress continues working on the FY24 budget, we must continue fighting for strong climate funding.
The continuing resolution (CR) in place currently funds parts of the government through March 1 and the rest through March 8. As a reminder, earlier last month, Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Speaker Johnson agreed to topline FY2024 funding numbers, but the details of those spending levels remain unclear.
Speaker Johnson and conservative Members of Congress are eager to add “poison pill” policy riders to the budget process that attack key climate programs, while also proposing significant budget cuts. We want to ensure the final FY24 budget is clean without any poison pills.
In January SCOTUS heard a new pair of cases that could further negatively impact the power of federal agencies: Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo.
The cases are ultimately about the deference courts should give to federal agencies’ interpretations of the laws that they administer. This legal precedent is known as the Chevron doctrine, which is named after the Supreme Court’s 1984 opinion in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council.
The Chevron doctrine dictates that if there is ambiguity in a federal statute administered by an expert agency (such as the way the EPA administers the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act), courts are supposed to defer to the agency’s reasonable interpretation of the statute. In other words, in those situations, judges are supposed to defer to the experts on the subject matter and its implementation.
From health care to finance to environmental pollutants, administrative agencies use highly trained experts to interpret and carry out federal laws. If the Chevron doctrine is overruled, it would have serious consequences for how all areas of public policy is interpreted and implemented.
2024 State of the Union Speech – March 7th
President Biden is scheduled to give his 2024 State of the Union speech on March 7th. IPL will be live tweeting, follow along and join the conversation @interfaithpower.
Methane Emissions Reduction Plan
Draft plan was released last month and a 45 day comment period will open soon. Look for an alert later in February that will allow you to send a comment to the EPA.
This is a fee on any leaked and therefore wasted methane from oil and gas industry operations. The intent is to address the leaks from pipelines and storage tanks and other infrastructure with currently available technology. This will complement the EPA methane rules and can drive a reduction of methane emissions sooner.
EPA Finalizes Soot Pollution Standard
Yesterday, President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan announced new pollution standards that will reduce deadly air pollution, like soot and smoke. As one of the nation’s most widespread deadly air pollutants, this standard will save lives, improve public health outcomes, including reducing cases of asthma and frequency of hospital visits, and cut down on missed work and school days resulting from these health challenges. The EPA’s new soot pollution standard is expected to save an estimated 4,500 lives and deliver $46 billion in health benefits in 2032.
ICYMI, you can watch the recordings from last week’s What’s on Deck for Climate Policy in 2024 Briefing and the Faith Voice at COP28: What Happened and What’s Next.