Energy & Environment

Senate liberals press Biden for climate emergency declaration

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Associated Press/John Locher
In this Feb. 19, 2020 file photo, Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talk during a Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC.

A group of eight Democratic senators are renewing a push for President Biden to declare a national climate emergency, saying the idea would “build off” recent legislative victories. 

President Biden had been weighing the declaration of a climate emergency, which would unlock additional powers to address the problem, when it appeared that talks for the climate bill had fallen through earlier this year. 

But he never took the step, and swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) eventually came around to supporting the Democrats’ climate agenda — with some changes added to make the bill more friendly to the oil and gas industry. 

In their new letter, the Democratic senators said they still want Biden to declare the emergency, saying it would further the progress that was achieved by the legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). 

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.). Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) noted that while the bill is expected to help the country make significant climate progress, it’s not expected to get the country all the way to reaching Biden’s goal of cutting emissions down to half of their 2005 levels. 

“We will only achieve these targets if you build off the momentum of the IRA with strong executive action. We urge you to take the important next step of declaring a climate emergency and unlocking the full tools at your disposal to address this crisis,” they wrote. 

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question from The Hill about whether a climate emergency declaration was still on the table.

In the past, the use of emergency declarations have been controversial. Critics of a Trump administration emergency declaration, which bolstered his border wall, argued that it was a misuse of emergency powers. 

The lawmakers addressed this in their letter, but argued that the climate crisis is too big to ignore. 

“A president’s emergency powers should not be used wantonly. What we cannot afford, however, is to shy away from tackling the climate crisis just because President Trump misused the National Emergencies Act. If ever there is an emergency that demands ambitious action, climate chaos is it,” they wrote. 

Tags Biden Jeff Merkley Joe Manchin Trump
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