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We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

7 Reasons Senate Democrats Must Prioritize Ambitious Climate Investments After Recess

When the Senate returns from recess, getting the $555 billion climate package passed must be their top priority. Failure is not an option.

When the Senate returns from recess next week, President Biden and Majority Leader Schumer will have a narrow window to prove to the American people that they can keep their promises and deliver meaningful climate action before the midterms. Schumer must put climate at the top of the agenda and fight to secure a deal with $555 billion in climate investments that can pass the Senate before Memorial Day.

The House has already passed a reconciliation bill with ambitious climate investments to create jobs, cut carbon pollution, and reduce America’s dependence on energy supplied by violent petro-dictators abroad. And in recent weeks, Senate holdouts have expressed interest in reviving the stalled climate package. Now, Democratic leadership must act.

Democrats must seize on this moment to pass a reconciliation bill with robust climate and clean energy investments to fight inflation, insulate the American economy from volatile oil and gas markets, address the climate crisis, disempower fossil fueled dictators like Vladimir Putin, and motivate climate voters to turn out for Democrats in the midterms. This memo lays out seven key reasons why Senate Democrats must pass those investments as soon as possible, and put the country on track for a secure and stable clean energy future.

1. The Clean Energy Transition Will Fight Inflation

Inflation is at its highest point in decades, and America’s dependence on fossil fuels is largely at fault. Fuel oil and gas have seen the biggest price spikes, at 70% and 48% respectively. New data shows that the price of fuel “has become the leading driver of inflation—accounting for over half of the overall increase in the index.” The Consumer Price Index doesn’t calculate figures for clean energy specifically, but its latest report indicates that electricity prices on aggregate have only increased by 11% over the same period. Transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy would indisputably reduce price volatility and buffer against similar inflationary shocks in the future.

2. Climate Action Will Disempower Petro-Fascists

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has cast the costs of global dependence on oil and gas into stark relief. In recent weeks, the world has seen skyrocketing fossil fuel prices, growing uncertainty about future energy supply, and stunning acts of violence from a petro-fascist propped up by demand for oil and gas. The transition to a clean energy economy is our best option for reducing demand for oil and gas and, by extension, disempowering petro-fascists like Vladimir Putin. The $555 billion climate package would meaningfully cut fossil fuel demand in every sector of the economy, reducing US demand for Russian oil and insulating the economy from price shocks driven by bad actors abroad.

3. Environmental Justice Investments Will Serve Vulnerable and Disinvested Communities, and Help Democrats Deliver on a Key Campaign Promise 

Climate impacts are already hitting frontline communities of color first and worst. For example, Native American communities, displaced and forced onto marginal lands, are among the most vulnerable to climate disaster; and the neighborhoods racially segregated by federal redlining policy are today suffering outsized harm from extreme heatwaves. Without major policy interventions to mitigate carbon pollution and build resilience, climate change will continue to inflict disparate impacts on historically oppressed and disinvested peoples. To address these injustices, President Biden has committed to pursuing the “most ambitious environmental justice agenda ever.” But to deliver on that commitment, he will need to secure the historic investments in climate justice contained in the reconciliation bill. The House-passed package includes environmental and climate justice block grants, programs to clean up pollution and create toxic-free communities, healthy ports, and climate-resilient affordable housing and community infrastructure. By passing the full climate package, Congress would meaningfully advance climate justice, defend frontline communities for generations to come, and deliver vital resources to help make good on President Biden’s environmental justice commitments.

4. Clean Energy Investments Will Protect the American Economy From Future Energy Crises

Even before economy-wide inflation escalated to current levels, fossil fuel price shocks were putting a squeeze on Americans’ pocketbooks—national oil prices are up 32% since last year, and this past winter families across the country dealt with heating bills that increased by 90% to 106% compared to the previous year. Fossil fuel markets are volatile by nature, with frequent price swings over the past several decades. Clean energy prices, meanwhile, have been stable and declining: since 2010, the cost of utility-scale solar power has plummeted 74%. From its peak of roughly $70/MWh in 2009, the cost of wind energy has likewise steadily dropped to nearly $10/MWh in 2018. By advancing the transition to a 100% clean energy economy, the climate investments in the House-passed reconciliation bill would help insulate the U.S. economy from the insecurity of the fossil fuel market, and provide American households with more stable and affordable clean energy.

"Without major policy interventions to mitigate carbon pollution and build resilience, climate change will continue to inflict disparate impacts on historically oppressed and disinvested peoples."

5. Action Is Far Cheaper Than Inaction

Climate-fueled disasters regularly inflict billions in damages, and the longer we wait to act, the more expensive they’ll get. Last year, major climate disasters in the U.S. dealt $145 billion in damage; Hurricane Ida alone cost upwards of $75 billion, or nearly 150% of the annual spending on climate investments in the reconciliation bill. Without swift action, the costs of climate impacts are projected to reach $14.5 trillion over the next 50 years in the US alone. In the words of a Boston Globe headline, “Compared with climate inaction, Build Back Better is downright cheap.” We literally can’t afford to delay the full climate investments.

6. We’re Running Out of Time to Limit Warming

The latest IPCC report warned that the “world is on track to shoot far past climate change targets unless countries make drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.” We’re running out of time to act; at current emission rates, the world will exhaust our carbon budget by the end of this decade, and spiral past the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target. Without serious intervention—in the form of the reconciliation bill’s climate investments paired with ambitious executive action—Democrats will all but guarantee a dramatically warmer world, and escalating climate disaster for generations to come. Failing to pass the climate package this year would be catastrophic.

7. Voters Expect More From Biden and Congress

Democrats’ electoral fate depends on their ability to deliver on climate. If the Senate fails to pass the climate package, 15% of Democrats and nearly a third of Independents (28%) say they will be less motivated to vote for Democrats in the midterm elections. Climate is tied as Black voters’ top priority in infrastructure legislation, meaning failure to these critical investments would disappoint a core constituency of Democratic support. And notably, the president’s support among young voters—who prioritize climate issues, and helped deliver the president’s victory—dropped to 46% in December 2021, 13 points down from his 59% youth approval in March 2021. That steep drop reflects the lost momentum suffered over months of protracted Congressional deliberations. To regain momentum, and voters’ trust, Democrats must act.

The Senate Must Act

President Biden and Majority Leader Schumer must bring the full package of climate investments across the finish line. Democrats are out of time—to avert catastrophic climate warming, protect the American economy, deliver on environmental justice, retain their governing majority, and disempower petro-fascists around the world, they must deliver on climate. When the Senate returns from recess in two weeks, getting the $555 billion climate package passed must be their top priority. Failure is not an option.

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