The House shows Trump what real US climate leadership looks like
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In recent months we’ve watched wildfires rage across the West, floodwaters rise in the Midwest and communities across the country struggle with the impacts of climate change. Addressing the climate crisis is more urgent than ever — especially for low-income communities and communities of color who bear a disproportionate burden of polluters’ unchecked actions. We need our elected officials to put people before polluters and tackle the greatest crisis we face before it’s too late, and this week’s floor vote on the Climate Action Now Act (H.R.9) in the U.S. House of Representatives is an important first step in the right direction.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden coronavirus relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority Some Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (D-Calif.) and her committee chairs are demonstrating the new House majority’s strong commitment to tackling climate change. They’ve held nearly 30 hearings this year on climate change and have made the Climate Action Now Act a part of the first 10 bills reserved for top priorities of the Speaker. This bill would make sure the U.S. meets its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement and tackles the climate crisis head-on. It is a welcome reversal of the eight years of climate denial and inaction under the extreme Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives.


The landmark Paris Climate Agreement was a critical turning point in combating the climate crisis, which is already having devastating impacts on our health, our economy and our environment. But in one of the earliest actions of the Trump administration, the president — ignoring calls from scientists, activists, faith leaders, health professionals, national security experts and more — announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the agreement, thus ending our country’s climate leadership on the global stage. Since then, this extreme administration has systematically rolled back protections that safeguard communities across the country, communities that are struggling to deal with increasingly extreme weather, rising sea levels and other negative impacts of climate change and toxic pollution.

But in the 2018 midterm elections, voters across the country flipped the House and elected a pro-environment majority — a definitive statement that people want action on climate change and clean energy. Since then, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have already taken several exciting steps to make climate change a top priority. Pelosi tapped veteran Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) to lead the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and the chairs of the Energy and Commerce, Foreign Affairs, Natural Resources, and Science Committees — Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Eliot Engel (D-N.J.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), respectively — have already held multiple hearings on addressing the myriad impacts of climate change. Dozens of members of Congress have joined calls for a Green New Deal to create good jobs and accelerate a just transition to a clean energy economy, and many more are rolling up their sleeves and proposing solutions to combat this crisis and hold polluters accountable.

H.R.9 is now making its way to the floor for a vote as the first piece of climate legislation put forward by the new pro-environment House majority. This legislation would block the administration from using any federal funds to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and instead requires the president to develop a plan for how the United States will meet the pollution reduction goals in the Paris Climate Agreement. Despite the Trump administration’s abdication of responsibility as a global leader in addressing this crisis, our champions in the U.S. House and in states across the country are picking up the mantle to take strong, meaningful action on climate change. From halting offshore drilling to eliminating dangerous contaminants, protecting public lands and curbing carbon emissions, environmental leaders in this Congress are already hard at work to protect communities and address climate change. For the sake of our communities, economy, security and health, we need Congress to continue to move climate legislation like the Climate Action Now Act forward to meet the greatest challenge of our time. We thank Pelosi, Castor and all of our champions for their leadership.

Gene Karpinski is president of the League of Conservation Voters.