60 legislators sign on to bill for a climate emergency declaration

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, Blumenauer aim to require Biden to declare climate emergency

The Hill | Rachel Frazin Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced legislation on Thursday that would require the president to declare a national emergency on climate change. Declaring a national emergency would give President Biden more power to combat climate change, including the ability to direct extra funding to the issue. The long-shot resolution follows a statement from Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggesting that Biden could declare a climate emergency to be able to take additional actions using emergency powers. However, it would face an uphill battle to cross the 60-vote threshold to become filibuster-proof and could also face opposition from moderate Democrats. The legislation cites both warming temperatures and a statement from the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which calls for “far-reaching, multilevel and cross-sectoral climate mitigation” to prevent climate risks. It says that in response to the national emergency, Biden should invest in major resiliency projects that will help prepare the country’s infrastructure for climate change’s impacts and make investments in clean energy that are socially and racially just. “We are out of time and excuses. Our country is in crisis and, to address it, we will have to mobilize our social and economic resources on a massive scale,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. 

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and Blumenauer Unveil Bill Pushing Biden to Declare National Climate Emergency (CNN) Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, along with Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, introduced legislation that would require President Biden to declare a national climate emergency. In it, the progressive lawmakers argue that the United States is “out of time and excuses” to deal with the climate crisis.

How states may drive — or foil — Biden’s clean energy plan

E&E News | Kristi E. Swartz and Edward Klump Congressional gridlock is putting renewed focus on states, which may end up being the main legislative arenas to steer clean energy during the Biden administration. State lawmakers are weighing plans to move toward 100% zero-carbon electricity and create a cleaner, more efficient power grid — both priorities of the new president. Biden has called for decarbonizing the U.S. power sector by 2035. State policies under consideration call for overhauling utility business models, creating new rate structures, and modifying the way electric and gas companies interact. While President Biden may motivate climate action, a trend has also formed at state capitols that could drive action on clean energy: From Phoenix to Atlanta, lawmakers are pushing topics like jobs, energy justice and revival of pandemic-wrecked economies along with bills that call for more electric vehicles as well as additional renewable technologies and battery storage. {…] Clean energy: Companies are quick to take credit for clean energy goals, but several states are heading in that direction, too, via 100% clean electricity or net-zero carbon emission targets. This year could see state legislatures explore how to implement those plans — or defend against potential changes. […] Electric vehicles: Electric vehicle legislation is expected to increase in various states amid a seismic transportation industry shift. […] Energy storage: Storage has shifted in the last five or six years from being a promise of the future to something that’s here and happening, according to Jason Burwen, who recently became interim CEO at ESA. Burwen noted the declining cost of battery storage and increased trust from utilities. And he said some state-level policymakers have removed hurdles to help storage connect to the grid and be compensated for its flexibility. […] Jobs and infrastructure: With jobs, a state to watch is Illinois, where lawmakers are working on clean energy legislation that stemmed from Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to reach 100% renewable power by 2050. The bill takes the effort to create jobs one step further by making environmental justice a focus when it comes to creating clean energy jobs. The measure also ties in jobs and a “just transition” for workers in the fossil fuel industry. Just transition is a framework that stems from the 1970s labor movement that has morphed into a leftist umbrella term for giving economic relief for displaced fossil fuel workers. There was a similar push in Maryland’s wide-ranging climate bill that failed to pass last year. The proposal also created a work group focused on identifying communities affected most by climate change and one that looks at jobs.

Judge orders US officials to weigh coal mine’s climate costs

Associated Press | Matthew Brown A judge says U.S officials downplayed climate change impacts and other environmental costs from the expansion of a massive coal mine near the Montana-Wyoming border, in a case that could test how far the Biden administration is willing to go to unwind its predecessors’ decisions. The lawsuit over Montana’s Spring Creek mine hinges in part on an issue central to President Joe Biden’s climate change agenda: Making decisions based on the full costs of fossil fuel extraction, including impacts on a warming planet that are being felt across society. U.S. District Judge Susan Watters said that under former President Donald Trump, the Interior Department played up the economic benefits of the 2-square-mile (5-square-kilometer) expansion of Spring Creek, which opened up development of 85 million tons of coal. But Watters said in her ruling Wednesday that officials failed to fully consider how burning the coal would contribute to climate change, known as the “social cost of carbon,” a concept that places a dollar value on every ton of greenhouse gasses emitted.