US Senators Reaffirm Climate Change Investment Must Be Part of Build Back Better

Senator Chris Van Hollen (MD), Senator Ed Markey (MA), Senator Tina Smith (MN), and Senator Ron Wyden (OR) spoke out today at a press conference on Capitol Hill, organized by Evergreen Action and Sunrise Movement. Together, they underscored their commitment to keep climate change investments as indispensable parts of the Build Back Better Act. The CCAN Action Fund team was also in attendance and expressed its strong support:  

“We appreciate the leadership that these four Senators are demonstrating by standing up against climate change. The fact that Senators who represent different regions all across the nation are united in this cause speaks to the urgent, existential nature of the global warming threat. We encourage all Americans to join us in demanding immediate passage of Build Back Better with its full array of climate change provisions.”  – Mike Tidwell, Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network & CCAN Action Fund

See below for the full press release from the Sunrise Movement and Evergreen Action.   

October 7, 2021

Sunrise Movement, Evergreen Action, Senators Wyden, Markey, Van Hollen, and Smith: No Climate, No Deal

Washington, D.C. – Today, Sunrise, Evergreen Action, and Democratic Senators held a press conference reaffirming the No Climate, No Deal pledge they made earlier in the reconciliation process. At the event, key Democratic Senators made it clear that to earn their vote, any deal on the Build Back Better Act must have the investments we need to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and build a just and thriving clean energy future. These are the climate investments that President Biden campaigned on. Now, it’s time to deliver robust greenhouse gas pollution reductions, jobs and justice. 

“Climate inaction is not an option, the climate emergency is here and we are living it. The American people, especially our young people, are sounding the alarm and rightfully demanding that Congress act on climate now. I am with them all the way, which is why I am fighting tooth and nail to overhaul our tax code to reduce carbon emissions in the Build Back Better legislation,” Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden said. “We cannot miss this once-in-a-generation opportunity to act for a cleaner, healthier future.”

“When Congress was negotiating infrastructure this summer, Senators Wyden, Van Hollen, Smith, and I said very clearly — No Climate, No Deal. We stand fast to that pledge,” said Senator Ed Markey. “Congress needs to pass a robustly funded, climate-focused reconciliation bill to address the most important issue confronting our world – the climate crisis. We have no time to waste.”

“We are in a time of crisis, and we don’t control the schedule – this is Mother Nature’s schedule. We must act now to both respond to this challenge and seize this opportunity to boost our economy, invest in renewable energy, and create millions of good-paying jobs. Failing to take meaningful steps to address the climate crisis now would be a dereliction of duty. We must get this done,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen

“We cannot squander this once in a generation opportunity to pass meaningful climate policies,” said Senator Tina Smith. “Climate change isn’t waiting and we know the clean energy transition will have to happen. The question is whether we are going to lead or follow, and I want us to lead. Doing so will spur American innovation, create over a million jobs, and grow the economy. Now is the time to act.”

“For the sake of our people and our planet, Congress must act. We need climate justice now,” said Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., “This bill is our best opportunity to stop the climate crisis and to invest in the Black, brown, and indigenous communities bearing the brunt of it. No climate, no deal, and no excuses—it’s time for Congress to pass Joe Biden’s climate plan.”

“No climate, no deal, because a compromise on climate is a compromise on me, my family, and my home. Our lives are worth the full effort and expense of this government, because what else is the government for, except to protect and preserve us?” asked Nikayla Jefferson of Sunrise Movement. “If Biden and Congress do not pass a deal with full measures for climate, including 45% emissions reduction by 2030, they will have failed their one job, and this country should feel embarrassed at the level of incompetence and corruption that has taken over our elected officials. Joe Biden cannot go to COP26 to negotiate global cooperation on climate, when he cannot even cut a good deal for climate and pass his own Build Back Better agenda here at home, with his own party.”

“The climate crisis is here and it’s already devastated too many communities. The American people are counting on President Biden to fulfill his climate commitments,” said Evergreen Action Coalitions Lead Wes Gobar. “Congress must deliver the Build Back Better Act with a Clean Electricity Performance Program, clean energy tax credits, and more, to finally put the U.S. on a path to cut our climate pollution in half by 2030. This is the overwhelmingly popular agenda Biden campaigned on that has unified the entire Democratic caucus, moderates and progressives alike. The eyes of the American people are on Congress right now, but so are the eyes of the world. When President Biden meets with world leaders in Glasgow next month at COP26, they won’t ask him whether he built roads and bridges with Republican votes, they’ll ask what he did to deliver on his climate commitments.”

The press conference comes as President Biden faces the countdown to COP26, the UN’s international climate conference, where he risks showing up empty handed if Congress fails to pass the bold climate investments in the Build Back Better Act into law.

According to an analysis from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation package would put us on track to reduce U.S. carbon pollution by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030. Combined with further actions from the Biden administration and states, this plan would be sufficient to meet the president’s international commitment to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas pollution by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. Now, congressional Democrats must follow through.

As negotiations continue, it is essential that Democrats preserve the necessary climate investments to stay on track to hit 45% carbon pollution reductions. America cannot reach our climate pollution reduction goals with half measures; we must fully fund the Clean Electricity Performance Program, clean energy tax credits, and the full suite of carbon pollution reduction investments in the Build Back Better agenda.

Here’s What Leaders In The Climate Movement Are Saying About Today’s Event:

Senator Elizabeth Warren:

“Passing the Build Back Better agenda is crucial to addressing the climate crisis. We can’t bend to corporate pressure and special interests and water down the scale of our action. This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our communities and our planet. No climate, no deal.”

Ashley Thomson, Greenpeace USA Climate Campaigner:

“Every year billions of our tax dollars go to fossil fuel CEOs. Right now, Congress has a once in a generation opportunity to end these wasteful fossil fuel subsidies and commit to the expansive climate action that follows the demands of science and justice. Building back better means supporting families, not continually bailing out the companies most responsible for the climate crisis. Congress can set the course for a future that will see our communities not just survive, but thrive by passing a robust, transformative Build Back Better deal. We must end fossil fuel subsidies, end pollution in the hardest hit communities, and rapidly deploy renewable energy. Anything less is failing ourselves and putting our future at greater risk.”

Jaime DeMarco, Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

“Our region, including West Virginia, needs a strong CEPP to create jobs, keep costs low and improve the reliability of the grid.”

Ramón Cruz, Sierra Club President:

“It’s essential that any deal for a final Build Back Better Act pass the climate test, which means cutting climate pollution in half by 2030, creating good union jobs and a more equitable economy, and delivering on the United States’ national climate commitments ahead of the international climate meeting this November in Glasgow. We have no time to waste because as the IPCC has made painfully clear, the choices we make together now will shape our society’s direction and the health of our planet for centuries.

“Concretely, that means delivering bold climate action through fully funded clean energy tax credits and a Clean Electricity Performance Program, two of the drivers of significant emission reductions. Meeting the climate test also requires expanding access to union-built electric vehicles and clean public transit, retrofits of our homes and schools, the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, a fee on methane polluters, and protections for our public lands including the Arctic Refuge.

“The Build Back Better Act must simultaneously prioritize bold investments in environmental justice to redress the devastating health and economic impacts of toxic pollution, primarily in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. Now is the time for our members of Congress to hold strong on climate and make sure that full funding for the full suite of crucial climate and environmental justice investments are included in the final Build Back Better package.”