Inside the Greenhouse is a monthly update on FCNL’s environmental advocacy and the emerging climate issues that impact our work.
Bipartisan Interest Grows to Impose Carbon Fee
Republican lawmakers, led by Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA) and Kevin Cramer (ND), are beginning to discuss the prospect of imposing a tariff on imported goods based on their carbon content. This approach, known as a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), could bolster decarbonization globally. Many Republicans view the mechanism as a way to support U.S. manufacturers in maintaining a competitive edge against Chinese companies.
There is a long way to go before these discussions turn into concrete legislation, but the interest from Republicans is a hopeful sign that lawmakers could work together on a bipartisan basis to put a price on carbon.
There is a long way to go before these discussions turn into concrete legislation, but the interest from Republicans is a hopeful sign that lawmakers could work together on a bipartisan basis to put a price on carbon. Sen. Chris Coons (DE) recently stated that after the European Union passed its own CBAM reforms last December, he is hopeful that progress can be made in Congress as well.
Putting a price on carbon is a transformational solution that will boldly reduce global emissions. Members of Congress should act jointly to pass the first federal carbon tax legislation.
House Members Focus on Permitting Reform
Legislators from both sides of the aisle have renewed conversations on reforming permitting processes for energy projects. Permitting reform is critical to developing the clean energy elements of last year’s historic Inflation Reduction Act (P.L. 117-169) and hastening the transition to a green economy. However, it is vital that any changes prevent further harm to marginalized communities and those disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Some House Democrats and Republicans, like Reps. Scott Peters (CA-50) and Garret Graves (LA-6), have indicated a desire to reform permitting policy by changing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its environmental review protocols.
In particular, Rep. Graves has expressed an interest in loosening protocols and environmental safeguards. On Feb. 28 and March 1, the House Natural Resources Committee held hearings on Rep. Graves’s BUILDER Act, which would limit considerations of input provided by frontline communities and local governments.
FCNL will continue to press for permitting reform that includes comprehensive requirements for consultations with frontline communities, and a clear focus on renewable energy infrastructure.
News and Updates
Senate Budget Committee Focuses on Carbon Pricing
The prospect of putting a price on carbon was a major focus of the first hearing of the Senate Budget Committee in the 118th Congress. “If we want to do something serious about global emissions, we have to put a price on carbon,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (UT). Congressional action on carbon pricing will be an essential component of reaching President Biden’s goal of decarbonizing the economy by 2050.
Climate Change Fuels Unusual Weather Conditions
In the past few weeks, many of the lower 48 states have experienced unusual weather events. States ranging from Montana to California experienced record low temperatures in February, and states in the southeast and mid-Atlantic saw spurts of summer-like weather, with temperatures reaching 80 degrees in some places. These extreme swings are likely to become more frequent due to human-induced climate change.
Call to Conscience Session on International Climate Finance
On Feb. 23, we hosted our semi-monthly Call to Conscience session with Joe Thwaites, international climate finance advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Joe offered the audience insights into foreign climate assistance, FCNL’s top environmental priority in the 118th Congress. Watch the recording here.
What We’ve Been Reading
- Loss and damage implementation can’t wait any longer
- How to deliver funding to countries struggling with conflict and climate impacts
- Climate change mitigation and adaptation should be financed through the public and private sectors
- More than 8,100 wind and solar projects across the United States cannot reach the grid
- Drought crisis on the Colorado River poses danger for agriculture