House Speaker Nancy Pelosi charted a course to zero out all of the United States’ planet-heating emissions by 2050, unveiling a Democratic proposal Tuesday that’s been hailed by experts as the “most detailed climate plan in U.S. political history.”
Now nearly five dozen House Democrats want to see those principles applied to the next big piece of legislation coming down the pike. At least 59 legislators signed on Wednesday to a letter demanding that party leaders add more climate provisions to the $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill slated for a vote as early as this week.
“We have to get this right. There are no do-overs,” said the letter, authored by Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). “We know the importance of listening to our impacted communities, workers, and scientists. We must understand the consequences of acting too late. This cannot be a lost decade for our economy or our planet.”
The letter, a copy of which HuffPost obtained, was addressed to Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). By Monday, lawmakers had already submitted close to 350 amendments to the infrastructure bill, but Politico reported that many would not be allowed to be offered.
The first roughly $2 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed to ease the economic hardship of the coronavirus pandemic largely rebuffed activists’ calls to mandate cuts in polluting emissions. The Trump administration, meanwhile, loosened rules on federal aid to help deeply indebted oil and gas drillers, halted environmental enforcement and sold drilling leases on public lands for record-low prices.
“There is also a risk that a traditional infrastructure bill could be filled with funding for projects that expand and subsidize high-emission transportation and energy infrastructure, failing to prepare our communities for the emerging risks and uncertainty posed by climate change,” the letter says. “This response would not only hasten the climate crisis, but would worsen the air and water pollution that is exacerbating the impacts of COVID-19, particularly for communities of color that have borne the brunt of environmental racism.”
Polling shows why Democrats are ramping up their rhetoric on the climate crisis. Roughly 58% of all registered voters support transitioning the country to 100% clean energy, including 76% of Democrats, 59% of independents and 38% of Republicans, according to a survey the think tank Data for Progress published in May. Two-thirds of Americans say the federal government should do more to reduce the effects of climate change, according to a Pew Research Center poll released in June.
CORRECTION: This story was updated to correct the district Chellie Pingree represents.