THE BUILD BACK BETTER ACT: HISTORIC CLIMATE LEGISLATION

Climate change was at the center of President Biden’s campaign. Now it is time to turn this campaign promise into law, and that’s where we come in. 

Right now, Congress is considering the Build Back Better Act, which would enact a Clean Energy Performance Program for 80% clean electricity by 2030, getting us on the pathway to 100% renewables by 2035. This bill significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create a million new jobs, prevent 300,000 premature deaths, and modernize the grid, all while keeping prices affordable.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund have been passing clean electricity standards and renewable portfolio standards at the state level for nearly two decades. We are now rolling up our sleeves to make it happen in Congress too. You can take action right now by contacting your Senators to support President Biden’s climate plan, including the groundbreaking Clean Energy Performance Program.

OUTDOOR EVENT SERIES: 100 Leaders for 100% Clean Energy

This summer, we rallied on Capitol Hill nearly every week in order to show Congress that we the people demand 100% clean electricity by 2035. For eight weeks leading up to the August recess, we invited 100 prominent leaders from key constituency groups to gather near the steps of Congress. With speeches and testimonials, the leaders endorsed Biden’s climate/infrastructure plan, with an emphasis on the key goal of achieving a 100% clean grid by 2035.

The gatherings started in June, with faith leaders and business owners converging on the Capitol, and continued through early August, just before the Senate passed a groundbreaking $3.5 trillion budget deal. 

Read more about the summer of events here, and check out the photos below to get inspired. 

WHAT’S IN THE BUILD BACK BETTER ACT? 

The Build Back Better Act formerly known as the American Jobs Plan — is by far the most ambitious climate policy put forward by any American president. The plans spends $2.7 trillion over eight years, with more than $1 trillion going to policies that directly reduce emissions. 

Read more about what the Plan will do specifically for Virginia.

A 101 on President Biden’s Plan for 100% 

Watch the below recording of our webinar, “Path to 100%,” for a more in-depth look at the policy and politics behind the plan.

Current Coalition Efforts

CCAN Action Fund came together with five other prominent climate organizations to send a letter to congressional leadership urging immediate passage of the American Jobs Plan. 

Six of the nation’s best-known groups fighting climate change at the state and regional levels, including CCAN, signed a letter urging Congress to pass President Biden’s plan for 100% clean electricity by 2035.  Regional leaders said such a policy was “vital” in the fight against global warming while rebuilding the US economy with environmental justice. 

Individuals are also invited to contact their Congressmembers and ask them make sure the Clean Energy Performance Program is included in the Build Back Better Act. We’ve set up a page that will allow you to email your Senators. It’ll only take a minute.

The Filibuster versus Reconciliation

The US Senate is broken, and the anvil around the neck of the once great deliberative body is the filibuster. Right now any US Senator can block any bill simply by filibustering it. It takes 60 votes to block a filibuster which means all legislation needs 60 votes in the Senate. There are 50 Democrats in the Senate so to get 60 votes a bill would need every Democrat to vote for it and 10 Republicans. There isn’t a single Republican talking about solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis, let alone 10!

It would only take 51 votes to eliminate the filibuster, and VP Harris could cast the 51st vote. But, Joe Manchin, a Democratic Senator from West Virginia has sworn that he will never vote to eliminate the filibuster, making the filibuster Democrats most costly self inflicted wound. All this means Republicans have complete veto power over any climate legislation, except for a process called reconciliation. 

Reconciliation

Reconciliation allows lawmakers to pass legislation in the Senate with only 50 votes. Normally it can only be done once per calendar year, but for complicated procedural reasons, Democrats are able to use budget reconciliation twice in 2021. 

Right now Congress is busy passing President Biden’s COVID relief package through reconciliation. That process is expected to be completed by the end of February. Then in late spring or early summer, the President Biden team will announce an infrastructure/energy bill. That legislation will be enormous and mostly focused on infrastructure, but it will be the vehicle that will carry our climate hopes and dreams over the finish line. 

The Democrats will give the Republicans a few weeks, maybe even a month, to come to the table and negotiate in good faith, and if/when that does not lead to a breakthrough then the Democrats will pass the infrastructure package through reconciliation too. 

We need to make sure that the infrastructure package includes 100% clean electricity by 2035, which can be done through reconciliation. That package is our one and only shot. Once the doors of reconciliation slam shut behind that bill, then we will be stuck needing 60 votes to do anything, which means we will be able to do nothing.

Watch the below video by our partners at Evergreen Action to learn more about how to pass this.

What we are doing

We are meeting with members of Congress to build support for 100% by 2035 while simultaneously keeping the pressure on President Biden not to cave on this issue. 

You can help by contacting your senator about this crucial policy. By taking that action you will be looped into the circle of folks planning and working to pass this bill. 

If you have any other questions or comments, contact Jamie (jamie@chesapeakeclimate.org).