The Climate Emergency and Congressional Maneuvering

Ted Glick
3 min readJul 29, 2022

There are two big national initiatives right now, as of two days ago, to address the climate crisis:

-the call for and organizing to press Biden to declare a climate emergency and then use his Presidential powers unlocked by that to take a series of badly-needed actions, and

-the Biden/Manchin/Schumer/Pelosi “Inflation Reduction Act,” and, announced the same day, the commitment by Biden/Pelosi/Schumer to pass companion legislation by September 30th. Here’s how that projected companion legislation was described by Manchin in a public statement: “President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have committed to advancing a suite of commonsense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built to deliver energy safely around the country and to our allies.”

Transmission is one thing, pipelines and export facilities another completely. We don’t need more pipelines and export facilities! The International Energy Agency said last year that there should be no more expansion of the fossil fuel industry, as did the Pope about a week ago!

So what should those of us do who get it both on the urgency of the climate crisis and on the need for climate action now which consciously incorporates an environmental justice, race and class lens?

I have not read the 750 page Inflation Reduction Act legislation. I have read several analyses of it by people who have. On that basis it is clear that there are good things and bad things in it. Without question it is a compromise that benefits Manchin and the fossil fuel industry while also doing good things as far as the needed shift from fossil fuels to renewables. It is, truly, “all of the above” legislation, which, frankly, is not what we need right now.

So what should people like Sanders and Warren and AOC and Bush and others who have been champions of climate action at the scale of the problem do when it comes up for a vote? I’d say that, right now, one key thing to do is find out more about this “suite of commonsense permitting reforms,” in Manchin’s words.

If Manchin is going to use his very unfortunate power in the existing Senate — which, by the way, six months from now could be a different reality if the Democrats have 52 or more Senators, a definite possibility — to…

Ted Glick

Author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left's Resistance to the Vietnam War, climate and progressive activist, father, bicyclist, husband