1. Update
  2. Environment & Energy

Briefing: Climate Policy

April 20, 2017 Conference Call


Thank you for joining us for a national conference call for updates on what the Trump administration, Congress, and advocates around the country are doing on climate policy.

Speaker

Emily Wirzba is FCNL's lobbyist on climate policy. She lobbies to achieve bipartisan recognition of climate change in Congress. Emily meets with members of Congress and their staff to promote FCNL's environmental priorities. She also works closely with FCNL's network across the country to organize constituents to lobby, write, and advocate for bipartisan environmental action in Congress. She currently serves as co-chair of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community's Energy and Ecology Working Group.

Action Steps

Step 1: Make a phone call

Call your representative and urge them to join the Climate Solutions Caucus.

Step 2: Write a letter to the editor

Urge your representative to join the Climate Solutions Caucus. Make sure to mention them by name so their staff sees it.

Step 3: Request a meeting

Talk directly with your representative or their staff. Ask them to join the House Climate Solutions Caucus.

  • Democrat representative? Ask them to find a Republican partner they can join with
  • Republican representative? Find other voices in your community that might help them
  • Already a caucus member? Urge them to begin introducing legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and vote to protect climate/research/clean energy funding in the budget

Resources

  • For talking with people who don't believe in climate change, skepticalscience.com provides responses to common myths about climate.
  • Join FCNL and Quaker Earthcare Witness at the People's Climate March and pre-march events.

Call Transcript

What’s happening in DC?

There's a lot going on in DC. Unfortunately, much of the movement right now is working against climate action. Here are the threats our work faces:

  • The nominations of major Cabinet positions that have troubling environmental records, including Scott Pruitt to EPA (who has sued the EPA repeatedly), Rex Tillerson to State (former CEO of Exxon Mobil), Rick Perry to Energy, and Ryan Zinke to Interior.
  • A proposed budget released from President Trump that defunds almost all climate change finance, research, and programs in the federal government. As just one example, Trump proposed to cut the EPA’s budget by 31%, eliminate the EPA’s Global Climate Change Research Program, reduce EPA’s Climate, Air, and Energy research, and much more. However, we are heartened that many legislators – including Republicans – have spoken out against many of Trump’s proposed cuts.
  • An Executive Order that would re-evaluate and potentially rescind Obama’s signature climate policy, the Clean Power Plan. The order also dismantles the social cost of carbon, which quantifies potential economic damage from climate change, and rescinds a variety of federal government directives.
  • Approval of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, marking a reversal in US policy.
  • Use of the Congressional Review Act to overturn Obama-era environmental regulations.
  • The threat of pulling out of the UN Paris Climate Agreement, though this has yet to actually happen.

What are we doing?

Our theory of change is that members of Congress do want to act on climate change, they just need political cover. We call this the Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption. Our goal is to build bipartisan political will in Congress to acknowledge and address climate change.

This has taken time. For over 5 years FCNL has been working on this specific, pragmatic, nuanced approach. But it is showing some serious results.

Republican Climate Resolution

On March 15, 17 Republicans from across the country, including moderates, Republican Study Committee, and Freedom Caucus members joined together in introducing the Republican Climate Resolution. The resolution acknowledges the reality of human-caused climate change and calls for bipartisan action.

FCNL had multiple op-eds and letters to the editor published by constituents thanking the co-sponsors. The national coverage of the resolution was very comprehensive, and included articles in Bloomberg, Newsweek, Reuters, New York Times, and an in-print story in Time Magazine. I was interviewed and quoted extensively in Climate Home about the resolution, and had an op-ed published in the Christian Post about the religious community’s support of the resolution.

Bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus

This caucus includes 19 Republicans and 19 Democrats, 50 percent higher than its membership in the last session of Congress.

The mission of the Climate Solutions Caucus is to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and to explore bipartisan policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate.

So far, this caucus is only in the House of Representatives, but stay tuned!

Votes

  • Bureau of Land Management Methane Rule: Under the Congressional Review Act, members of Congress can revoke rules implemented by the Obama administration. After a close vote in the House -- in which 11 Republicans supported the rule -- the vote was delayed in the Senate.
  • H.R. 1430 (The HONEST Act) requires the EPA to use the best available science in assessments, regulations, and guidance. It's supported by CSC members.
  • H.R. 1431 (EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017) imposes new requirements for the EPA's Science Advisory Board. It's supported by CSC members.
  • Climate Solutions Caucus members are brainstorming legislation that reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Statements

We've seen positive statements from Climate Solutions Caucus members against Pruitt’s climate denial, against Trump’s EO, calling for the U.S. to stay in the Paris agreement, and more.

New Energy for Climate Action

In the past few months, I've seen new momentum building for solutions. This is driven by a few major factors. First, all Republicans in the Climate Solutions Caucus won their primary elections last year, so they're less concerned about facing challenges from the right. Second, the Republican party doesn't need to paint itself in opposition to President Obama anymore, opening up new space for Republican action on climate.

The two other factors bring me even more hope. I've heard often in my meetings that congressional offices feel the need to do something. And constituents across the country are building relationships with their members of Congress and advocating for bipartisan action -- that's exactly what we need.