Climate advocates worldwide, and nearly every other Democrat in Congress, are disappointed that Sen. Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia and an actual coal baron, has once again pulled the plug on extended negotiations for congressional climate action.
Just last week, it appeared Senate negotiators finally had Manchin on board with a reduced, but still significant, climate package of $300 billion in clean energy tax credits and other investments. Manchin’s latest about-face seems to rule out meaningful congressional action before the midterm elections in November.
In the wake of this latest setback, two calls for action are growing: more aggressive climate initiatives by the Biden Administration and redoubled efforts to elect candidates for the U.S. House and Senate and state legislative offices who will prioritize swift climate action.
Among other sources, these calls for more aggressive executive actions came from senators fed up with the on-again, off-again negotiations with Manchin. They suggested such actions as stronger vehicle emission standards, a comprehensive rejection of new drilling permits on federal lands and waters, and “a robust social cost of carbon rule” which would force polluters to account for the cost their emissions has on public health and other externalities as a cost of doing business.
A joint statement from several national environmental groups, including the League of Conservation Voters, emphasized the value of immediately ending new offshore oil and gas leasing. It read in part, “It’s more important than ever for President Biden and the Department of Interior to finalize a Five-Year Program that contains no new offshore drilling leases. The climate impact of permanently ending new leasing could be the equivalent of taking every car in the country off the road for 15 years.”
No matter how action comes, immediate initiatives are an essential part of efforts to maintain or expand congressional support for environmental protection. New polling shows the failure to enact sweeping climate progress is a major source of disillusionment with President Biden and Congress among younger voters in particular.
When it comes to the polls this fall, please remember the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund‘s endorsements in federal races and our Conservation PAC‘s picks in North Carolina races (more of the latter will be announced soon — stay tuned to CIB). LCVAF’s endorsement of Cheri Beasley for U.S. Senator from North Carolina is particularly important in the wake of this news. The only way to end reliance on unreliable votes like Manchin’s once and for all is to elect more climate champions — like Beasley — to the Senate.