Inside the Greenhouse
Inside the Greenhouse is a monthly newsletter that provides insight into FCNL’s environmental work, discusses opportunities to engage members of Congress on environmental issues, and shares stories of your work around the country. This year, our climate team is joined by FCNL’s Advocacy Corps, a group of 20 young people nationwide, in working for congressional action on climate change.
New cosponsor signs onto the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (S. 2448)
Last month, a bipartisan group of six legislators introduced a bill to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a refrigerant that can be thousands of times more powerful greenhouse gasses than carbon dioxide when calculated over a 100 year period. On March 22nd, the bill gained another Republican cosponsor, Senator Lindsey Graham (SC). The bill parallels the international agreement known as the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Learn more about S. 2448, HFCs, and the Kigali Amendment.
Climate and Environment Wins in the Omnibus Spending Bill:
On March 22nd, Congress approved a $1.3 trillion spending bill. This omnibus spending bill outlines how money will be allocated to federal agencies and programs for the remainder of 2018. We were pleased that the majority of energy and environment programs were maintained at their 2017 funding levels, or even increased for 2018. The passage of this budget represents a strong rejection of the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to energy and environment programs.
Read more on the Omnibus:
Wildfire Fix included in Spending Bill:
Within the 2,200+ page document that outlines federal spending for 2018, there was a long sought victory for environmentalists in the form of an overhaul of how the federal government funds wildfire fighting and prevention. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has been seeking this reform for years, and after one of the most devastating wildfire years on record, Congress has finally responded. The provision addressed a practice known as “fire borrowing” which has plagued federal agencies tasked with addressing wildfires. Prior to the reform, when the costs of firefighting exceeded the amount allocated for fire prevention within the annual budgets for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, the agencies would have to pull money from other areas of their budgets to cover the cost. Often this money was intended for conservation and restoration work. With increasingly severe costly fire seasons, the “borrowed” money to aid fire suppression efforts was steadily eating up more and more of these agencies’ budgets.
The wildfire overhaul included in the omnibus allows federal agencies to access a separate emergency response fund for particularly expensive wildfires, like the western wildfires of 2017, and keep their budget intact for their intended purposes. “Common sense has finally prevailed when it comes to how the Forest Service pays to fight record-breaking forest fires that devastate homes and communities in Oregon and the West,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), one of the major supporters of wildfire reform. Additionally, ending the practice of “fire borrowing” will allow federal agencies to direct funds towards fire mitigation strategies on public lands, creating a positive spiral of preparedness and prevention.
FCNL Submits Comments on Clean Power Plan Repeal:
On October 10th, 2017 EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced his intent to repeal the Clean Power Plan. FCNL denounced the decision to repeal the plan, and has submitted formal comments to the EPA during their public comment period. At FCNL, we seek an earth restored. As people of faith, we are called to care for God’s creation. The Clean Power Plan was the strongest action taken by a U.S. president to address human-caused climate disruption. If left unaddressed, climate disruption has the potential to cause irreparable harm to the earth. We have a moral imperative to prevent as much of this harm as possible. We have asked Administrator Pruitt to reconsider his decision to repeal the CPP, and to work towards an earth restored.
Climate Solutions Caucus:
The Climate Solutions Caucus gained two new members in March: Delegates Jenniffer González Colón of Puerto Rico and Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, DC.
There are currently 72 members of the Climate Solutions Caucus
The Climate Solutions Caucus is the first bipartisan body of its kind. It educates representatives on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and explores bipartisan policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. See who's involved.
News and Updates
Rex Tillerson is out, and Mike Pompeo has been tapped by Trump for new Secretary of State. This is concerning news for environmentalists.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Trump Administration’s request for a "writ of mandamus" which would have halted a legal case brought by 21 children against the federal government for its inaction on climate change.
On March 13th, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) delivered his 200th speech about climate change on the Senate floor. He has been giving one speech every week the Senate has been in session since April 2012.
Coastal Senators Maria Cantwell (WA) and Angus King (ME) criticized Secretary Zinke’s offshore drilling plan during Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing.
Advocacy Corps Spotlight
In the Media:
Itzel published a letter to the editor in the Atlantic Highlands Herald: “Much was said at the Women’s March about the importance of preserving and expanding women’s rights here at home and abroad. From the #metoo movement, to equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights and equal opportunities for women of color and minorities, people rallied to express their commitment to a better future for all women. Unfortunately, you can also add climate change to the many issues that have a harsher impact on women…”
Benjamin has been advocating for Representative Susan Brooks of Indiana’s 5th congressional district to cosponsor H.R. 3681, the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2017. On March 6th, Benjamin received an email from Rep Brooks’ staff saying she would co-sponsor the bill, and that his advocacy was a major contributing factor to her decision to cosponsor.
At Spring Lobby Weekend: The Advocacy Corps came together in Washington, DC for the third time during FCNL’s Spring Lobby Weekend. This year at Spring Lobby Weekend, over 400 young adults from across the country gathered to call on their elected representatives to pass legislation that protects Dreamers without separating immigrant families or further militarizing border communities.
On Sunday of Spring Lobby Weekend the Advocacy Corps used the skills they have been learning throughout their tenure with FCNL to lead a small group discussion entitled “Hard Questions.” The session was aimed at coaching young adults at Spring Lobby Weekend through difficult scenarios in their lobby visits. Advocacy Corps members addressed challenges like members of congress trying to derail a conversation through disingenuous talking points, or avoiding the subject entirely. A big thanks to the Advocacy Corps for helping answer some of the tough questions in advocacy. We were thrilled to have the Advocacy Corps back in DC, and to hear about their progress throughout the year!