Schumer to Trump: Future infrastructure bill must combat climate change

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE on Friday that any future infrastructure bill he wants to see in the new year “must” transition the U.S. toward renewable energy use.

In the letter, Schumer referred to the administration’s own national climate report released in late November as reasons why swift action to stop climate change must be implemented.

“It is crucial that we immediately enact legislation to combat climate change and create millions of jobs. Therefore, any clean infrastructure package considered in 2019 must include policies and funding to transition to a clean energy economy and mitigate risks that the United States is already facing due to climate change,” the top Senate Democrat wrote.

Schumer’s request comes as the Senate likely faces a focus of an infrastructure bill early next year. Trump has been calling for a comprehensive infrastructure package since the start of his presidency, but so far has not accomplished much. In the past, he's called for $1.5 trillion in new spending on infrastructure.

Infrastructure is one area where Senate Democrats are hoping they can weave in important measures to thwart climate change, such as improvements to the electrical grid system, shifting incentives toward renewable energy use and creation of more car charging stations.

Schumer pushed many of the measures as a way to boost the economy, writing that they can create “millions” of jobs.

Measures he suggested could make their way into a future infrastructure package include tax incentives for energy efficiency in homes and businesses and for using electric cars; a heavy investment in smart grid technology; increased federal investment in carbon capture and energy reduction technologies; funding to increase building resiliency against storms; and an investment in maintenance backlogs on public land.

“The Challenge is immense, but so is the opportunity to revitalize and modernize our infrastructure, create new jobs and economic opportunities, and position the United States as a leader in clean energy innovation,” Schumer wrote, adding that the U.S. must transition toward 100 percent renewable energy use.

“A single infrastructure bill will not solve our climate problem in its entirety, but it is an important first step,” he wrote.

In tandem with the letter to Trump, Schumer published an op-ed in The Washington Post on Thursday vowing there will be “no deal” for infrastructure without the climate element.

Schumer’s plea comes as the minority leader faces criticism over the likely appointment of Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBiden promises Democratic senators help in battleground states Senate leaders quash talk of rank-and-file COVID-19 deal OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' MORE (W.Va.) as the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Progressives and environmentalists are calling on Schumer to overlook Manchin’s seniority and fill the position with a senator who does not support the fossil fuel industry — an action that is looking increasingly unlikely.

House Democrats, who in January will retake control, are also pushing a goal of 100 percent clean energy use. An effort, lead by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezWhy Democrats must confront extreme left wing incitement to violence The Hill Interview: Jerry Brown on climate disasters, COVID-19 and Biden's 'Rooseveltian moment' House Democrats postpone vote on marijuana decriminalization bill MORE, called the Green New Deal would establish a House select committee to focus primarily on initiatives to get the country closer to full green energy use.