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Some Democrats put activism over climate action

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For years we have heard from the left that we have 12 years left to save the planet. Given this urgency, one could assume that Democrats are willing to explore bipartisan solutions to climate change. After all, for enduring, serious policy, a bipartisan consensus is required to avoid sweeping changes each time congressional majorities or presidential administrations flip. 

However, some Democrats have proven they are willing to do everything possible to help the environment in rhetoric alone, but never in actions. This week, congressional Republicans led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) announced a new climate task force to address the environmental challenges we face. The announcement comes on the heels of the new Conservative Climate Caucus, boasting nearly 60 members and championed by Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah).

As Republicans continue to build their presence in the environmental movement, Democrats with truly climate-focused interests should encourage the progress their political counterparts have achieved. Instead, they have continued to politicize the issue and have shown they have no genuine desire for their monopoly on climate change to end, even at the cost of real climate action. If the situation is as dire as Democrats make it out to be, they cannot afford to delay action for political wins. Yet, when given the opportunity for real environmental action, progressives make their version of perfect the enemy of good policy. It is what we have seen time and time again.

Just last week, the Growing Climate Solutions Act passed the Senate. The bill is a bipartisan solution that will allow American farmers and foresters to fight climate change by naturally sequestering emissions. By engaging the agricultural and forestry sectors in the fight against climate change, we can pursue natural solutions, including sustainable farming and forestry practices such as cover crops or reforestation. Scientists estimate this would deliver nearly 30 percent of the carbon reductions needed by 2030 to meet our climate goals. 

This bipartisan and private sector-supported bill passed the Senate with flying colors at 92-8. Notably absent from the yes column, however, were Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D- N.J.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), all self-proclaimed climate justice warriors. To be clear, they voted the same way as climate skeptic Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).

The fact that a handful of Democratic senators who have made climate change one of their highest priorities in office voted “no” on a highly bipartisan climate bill — practically a legislative unicorn in our age of divisiveness — should not only disappoint voters but make them wonder if these Democrats genuinely care about climate solutions. Voters should consider that such Democrats might be using the climate issue as political football to score points against their opponents. 

Climate action should be a priority for all Americans. That is why the left’s stubbornness and resistance to bipartisan legislation are both frustrating and telling, as it reveals that much of their activism is in name only. Suppose we continue to tolerate “climate-minded” Democratic legislators putting activism over action when it comes to our planet. In that case, we will be hard-pressed to solve the environmental challenges we face.

Danielle Butcher is the executive vice president at the American Conservation Coalition (ACC) and a visiting fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF).


Tags Bernie Sanders Bipartisan legislation climate action climate activism Climate change Conservative Cory Booker Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Garret Graves Growing Climate Solutions Act John Curtis Josh Hawley Kevin McCarthy

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