Federal Climate Policy

Bringing Back Earmarks to Save the Climate

Climate action will require overcoming the US democracy deficit.

The U.S. has a democracy deficit.  Winning national majorities isn’t enough to get majorities in Congress. This creates headwinds against climate action.  In the short-run at least, legislative earmarks might be one way to overcome the problem. The House is already planning to bring back earmarks, but the the heart of the problem is the …

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Things to be Thankful For (2020 edition)

Trump has done his best to eliminate federal protection for the environment. But there have been many positive signs.

Nearly four years into the Trump Administration, we’re now accustomed to waking up every morning to learn about a new attack on the environment.  It’s also been an awful year in terms of the pandemic. But there are some things to be thankful for. Here’s how I started a similar post in 2017, nearly a …

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 “Whole of Government” Climate Policy

We need the help of far-flung parts of the federal government to deal with climate.

President Biden will have to rely on administrative action to do much or all of the heavy lifting in climate policy. It’s clear that EPA has a central role to play in climate policy, but EPA does not stand alone. Other agencies also have important roles to play. Fortunately, the Biden transition team seems to …

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The Changing Landscape of Climate Policy

Even under Trump, the U.S. was slowly lurching in the right direction. Biden needs to give the process a good strong push.

Barring a Democratic sweep in the Georgia runoffs, Biden will be facing a Republican Senate.  But he also has a big advantage: The world has changed in some important ways that favor climate action. The importance of these positive changes may have been obscured by some negative developments. Since Barack Obama left office, climate change …

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The Decade in Review

Like many humans, the Twenty-First Century’s teenage years were stormy.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”  That pretty much sums up the ten years from January 2010 to January 2020. As the decade began, Barrack Obama was in the White House and the Democrats controlled Congress but were one vote short of a filibuster-proof majority in the House.  Under …

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Elections Matter – Even More Than You Thought.

Three ultra-close elections put us a dozen years behind in climate policy.

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to keep focused on November 3, 2020, given the confusing welter of candidates on one side and the daily bombshells issuing from the other.  So maybe this is a good time for a reminder of a why elections matter.  In fact, they not only matter, …

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HR 9: The First Climate Bill to Pass the House In a Decade

What you need to know about the bill.

Last Thursday, for the first time in a decade, the House of Representatives passed a climate change bill.  HR 9, the Climate Action Now Act, passed on a vote of 231-190. The heart of HR 9 is section 3, which blocks the use of any federal funds to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.  Section 4 …

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Climate Change in the Political Spotlight

Climate change has been a low-visibility political issue. That may be changing.

Generally, climate change doesn’t get much attention as a political issue. That may be changing now. And if it is, that could have important implications. One sign of the times is Jay Inslee’s run for the Presidency. He may not be at the top of the lists of prospects, but he’s an established, well-respected political …

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Do Impossible Regulatory Deadlines Cause Faster Progress?

A: Maybe, but only in a roundabout way. (And at a cost.)

Just about nobody who’s knowledgeable in the field thinks the U.S. electric grid can  be made carbon free in ten years.  Having spent the past two years lambasting the Trump Administration for ignoring the experts, I’m loathe to disagree with the expert opinion on this one. But even if the ten-year deadline set by supporters …

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Scoping Out the Green New Deal

How would we go about decarbonizing the most needy U.S. states?

Progressives are calling for a Green New Deal.  The details are still very fuzzy, despite the House resolution introduced by Markey and Ocasio-Cortez. That proposal as a ten-year timetable to eliminate carbon, which is highly unrealistic. Nevertheless, it’s worth thinking about what an all-out effort to decarbonizing the economy would look like.  The Green New …

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