The Senate finally passed a landmark climate bill. Now what?


Welcome to The Climate 202 after the newsletter break last week! Today we have a special edition that takes an in-depth look at the landmark climate bill that has passed the Senate. We will return to our regular programming tomorrow. But first :

‘You can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good’: Democrats cheer passage of landmark climate bill

For decades, it has been nearly impossible to get major climate legislation through the Senate. That finally changed on Sunday, when Senate Democrats passed their ambitious climate and fiscal package, a crucial step in a grueling journey to make the biggest climate investment in US history.

The A bill of 755 pagesnicknamed the Inflation Reduction Actcleared the chamber by a vote of 51 to 50 after nearly 20 hours of debate in the Senate, with Vice President Harris tiebreaker vote.

For many climate advocates, the bill is far from perfect. While it contains a record $369 billion in new spending to fight global warming and boost clean energy, it also includes several provisions that would extend the life of polluting fossil fuel infrastructure – a concession to Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.), the most conservative Democrat in the Senate.

But after months of working to secure Manchin’s elusive vote, Senate Democrats presented a united front in favor of the measure, which they say would still make a significant dent in emissions that are dangerously warming the Earth.

“You can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committeetold The Climate 202 on Sunday.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), one of the most vocal climate hawks in the Senate, agreed.

“This is a planetary emergency, and this is the first time the federal government has taken action worthy of the moment,” said Schatz, who fought back tears as he left the Senate after the bill passed. law. “Now I can look my kids in the eye and say we are really doing something for the climate.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) said the bill would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. It would take the nation a striking distance of President Bidenthe goal of reducing emissions by at least half over the next decade.

The Chamber plans to return on Friday to pass the package. The measurement will then move towards the White House for Biden’s long-awaited signing.

Bernie burns himself with fossil fuels

The package was largely the product of private negotiations between Manchin and Schumer. That means rank-and-file Democrats were unaware of the pair’s fossil fuel compromises, including a demand for the Interior Department hold oil and gas lease sales before approving rights of way for renewable energy projects on public lands.

Senator Bernie Sanders (Vt.), an independent who caucus with Democrats, lambasted those compromises in a fiery speech Saturday.

“We must do all we can to confront the greed, the irresponsibility, the destructiveness of the fossil fuel industry – not give billions of dollars in welfare to an industry that has destroyed our planet,” he said.

During the Senate’s so-called “vote-a-rama” on Sunday, when any senator had the power to force an amendment vote, Sanders offered proposals that would have removed any “gifts” to the fossil fuel industry and reinstated on Civil climatic bodya popular climate program that was deleted from the Manchin-Schumer agreement.

However, Democrats united against the Sanders amendments, saying it was important to keep the deal intact. They also remained largely united in defeating Republican attempts to force tough votes on climate and other issues.

“At the end of the day, there are so many good things in the bill,” Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who co-sponsored a major cap-and-trade bill that died in the Senate in 2010, told The Climate 202 on Sunday.

“I’m going to finish this bill, take a nap, then start the fight to finish the Green New Deal and create a Civilian Climate Corps,” he added.

The Coming Struggle to Authorize Reform

The deal came about in part because Biden, Schumer and the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has agreed to seek and pass new legislation easing federal permitting rules for pipelines and other infrastructure in the coming months.

The clearance measure would violate rules governing reconciliation, the process used by Democrats to pass the climate package and avoid a Republican filibuster. Schumer said the authorization proposal would instead be attached to an interim funding bill, known as the continuing resolution, which Congress must pass in September to avoid a government shutdown.

In an interview with our colleague Tony Romm, Schumer acknowledged that the permit deal is a “mixed bag” because it could benefit not only fossil fuel projects such as pipelines, but also renewable energy projects and transmission lines needed to transport electricity. clean electricity.

“Look, I don’t like parts of it,” he said. “But there are parts that environmentalists like because it makes it easier to allow green power, and red states have blocked transmission lines where there are places where there is a lot of wind and Sun.”

However, it’s unclear whether Democrats can get 10 votes from the GOP to pass the authorization measure. While Republicans have long called for streamlining the environmental review process for major infrastructure projects, they are reluctant to support a bill tied to the Democrats’ party line.

“I would really like permission to come before reconciliation,” said Senator Kevin Cramer (DN.D.), who participated in bipartisan energy meetings with Manchin during which they discussed permits.

In a statement Sunday, Manchin said he was confident senators would pass the authorization proposal when they returned from their August recess.

“We are moving full steam ahead on comprehensive bipartisan permit reform so that we can safely and efficiently bring more national energy projects online,” he said. “Congress will pass this legislation next month.”

Also the sentiment after a Senate vote-a-rama: