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Policy Update 2/21/11: Climate Roped into High-Stakes Budget Fight

23
Feb

Policy Update 2/21/11: Climate Roped into High-Stakes Budget Fight

US at COP15-Lead or go home 200px

From Wisconsin to D.C., the talk of the town this week has been conservative budget bills and their potential consequences. In Congress, the GOP-led House amended their spending package to include a complete shutdown of climate and clean energy programs ranging from subtle tweaks to all-out gutting of the Clean Air Act and state-based climate law enforcement. The budget agreed upon by the House is so drastic that leaders in the Senate will likely scrap it and start from scratch with their own version. Right now the government is funded through March 4th. If the House, Senate, and the White House can't agree on a budget we will see a full-on government shut down.

What does this mean for climate? It means our issue is caught in the middle of a 3-way stand off with big polluter allies in the House facing off against the Senate and President Obama. The House bill would gut the tools we have left to tackle climate change. Now it's up to the Senate and President Obama to stand up for the Clean Air Act, climate policies, and a clean energy future in the face of polluter-funded opposition in the House.

Anti-Climate Rampage In House Spending Bill

The House spending bill (H.R.1) will fund the government from March 4th though the fall. For a final bill to be agreed upon, a compromise will need to be struck between the House, Senate, and President Obama. The monstrous cuts to key climate-related laws and services proposed by the House are merely an opening bid in an ongoing debate that may or may not result in an actual government shutdown. The anti-climate riders aren't good news, but they do present us with an opportunity to hold members of Congress accountable.

Polluter-friendly provisions in the spending bill drew harsh criticism from the public health and environmental community:

The key to making sure these over-the-top attacks on climate policy are not signed into law will be a strong public response from the Senate and President Obama. We especially need the president to stand up and publicly declare his support for the Clean Air Act, climate policy, and safeguards for the health and safety of American families.

Jonathan Chait at The National Review thinks that Democrats should be louder in response to EPA attacks given recent polling suggesting that the agency is wildly popular with the public - even in relatively conservative areas. And President Obama released a strongly-worded formal veto threat, but failed to mention climate and clean energy-related attacks. With some degree of compromise inevitable, we need President Obama to be an outspoken champion of the Clean Air Act and climate policy.

Grassroots response:

1Sky leaders will be visiting with members of Congress and holding rallies in key cities to defend the Clean Air Act against big polluter-led attacks.

  • One example from Colorado
  • National green groups are joining forces with the public health community to hold members accountable for recent anti-climate votes.
  • Our partners at 350.org are taking the fight to local businesses who are part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the strongest national front groups for big polluters trying to fight climate regulations with budget riders.

Wisconsin Standoff Fueled by Big Polluters

The same groups behind attacks on climate policy are now organizing historic attacks on organized labor, led by the Koch Brothers, the Club for Growth, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Prepared by Jason Kowalski. Please direct questions or comments to jason@1sky.org.

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