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Climate activists insist that a new infrastructure deal must be focused on climate

After President Joe Biden's major climate initiatives were canceled by a bipartisan infrastructure plan, climate activists and their Democratic allies are calling for massive investments to reduce global warming.

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Climate activists insist that a new infrastructure deal must be focused on climate

According to supporters, a larger package that is Democratic-only and currently being developed in Congress must fulfill Biden's promise of making America carbon-free, a leader in electric vehicles, and creating millions of jobs in the solar, wind, and other clean-energy industries.

Even though Democrats are using a procedural process that only requires a simple majority, passage of a multitrillion-dollar bill will face significant obstacles. In an evenly divided Senate it is unlikely that moderate Democrats will accept an expansive measure that could reach $6 trillion.

A bill that doesn't address climate change fully is more expensive and could lose support from liberal Democrats, who have pledged to take action on the issue Biden calls "the existential crisis in our time."

The bipartisan plan eliminates climate measures because climate change is causing more severe disasters like droughts and wildfires. Scientists call for immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the worst effects of global warming.

Jamal Raad is the executive director of Evergreen Action. Evergreen Action has been pushing for urgent action to combat climate change. "We know that Washington's fossil fuel lobbyists are working hard to remove key climate provisions from (Democrat-only).

He stated, "To meet the moment, Democrats need to stand firm and pass an package that makes historic investments into climate, jobs, and justice."

The bipartisan agreement will not pass in a divided Congress. The June 24 framework, announced by Biden and a bipartisan team of senators, does not contain legislative provisions. Many details still need to be worked out.

Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called the bipartisan agreement inadequate, as his state and other West states face record heat waves and destructive wildfires. Wyden stated that the deal would not include a comprehensive clean energy policy and that he was not prepared to support ignoring climate change. "The bills must be connected directly."

Bipartisan funding of $973 billion includes money to purchase electric buses, upgrade the electrical grid and build an electric vehicle charging network. It would also spend $55 billion on improving drinking water and wastewater systems, and $47 billion on resilience efforts to combat climate change.

Many climate-related proposals were omitted, including Biden's plans to make electricity carbon-free by 2030 and invest hundreds of billions in tax incentives and other tax incentives for clean energy like wind and solar power, and technologies that capture carbon emissions.

Biden highlighted last week in La Crosse, Wisconsin projects that would receive more money under the bipartisan bill. These included hybrid buses and road-repairing equipment. The White House also stated that climate considerations would be an important part of any plan for infrastructure, jobs, and education. This would only be determined by Democrats in a "budget reconciliation” process in Congress.

Activists claim that the bipartisan framework fails to meet nearly all of the climate commitments Biden made in his original proposal in spring. This includes energy upgrades for buildings and massive spending on environmental justice.

According to the White House, it has not changed its mind about Biden's ideas and released a memo last Wednesday reaffirming its commitments to boost the electric vehicle market, make buildings more resilient to severe weather patterns, and ensure that the country's electricity grid is carbon-free by 2035.

According to environmental groups, this is not enough.

"This is an historic, narrow chance to combat climate crisis. We can't afford not to take the right steps," Lauren Maunus, advocacy director at the Sunrise Movement, another environmental organization, said. "When Democrats agree that it should be watered down further, they are condemning Americans for untold destruction."

Some left-leaning members express dismay at recent Biden administration actions regarding the environment. Although generally supportive of Biden’s approach, environmentalists are concerned by Trump's decision to build a massive oil field on Alaska's North Slope. They also want to defend two pipelines in the Upper Midwest: the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Enbridge Energy's Line 3 replacement.

The administration's failures to reinstate a federal coal sales ban that was imposed under President Barack Obama is also frustrating for environmentalists.

Although Biden was able to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and drill on Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he made "good decisions", Drew Caputo, an environmental lawyer at Earthjustice, stated that his support for other oil projects and oil pipelines undermines Biden’s commitment to slowing global warming.

He stated that "We won't be able to fight climate change if pipeline is traded for pipeline" or oil project for oil plant. We must transform the economy. "We have to transform the economy. Investing in costly fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines puts the ability of the administration to address climate change at serious risk.

A letter signed by 134 House Democrats urged Biden to ensure that the infrastructure legislation included "robust" spending "that matches the scale of climate science's challenge we face."

Reps. Mike Levin, Andy Kim, New Jersey, and Sharice Davids, Kansas, wrote the letter. They outlined five climate priorities in reconciliation package. These include a carbon-free grid, replacement of lead pipes and service lines, as well as a commitment to 40% of program benefits for communities that have been harmed due to toxic pollution from refineries or other sites.

Levin, who is a member of a House panel on climate change, stated in an interview that he was confident that Biden "sees climate crisis as the existential danger to the future that is" and that he will "act as the moment requires."

When Levin was asked about fears that Democrats might not spend trillions of dollars on climate change by activists, Levin replied, "Don’t anguish, organize," borrowing from Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Levin acknowledged that there is uncertainty over what the Democrats will ultimately approve of, but also continued optimism to do right.

Levin mentioned a House bill that authorized $715 billion over five years for roads, rails, public transit, and water. This bill will likely serve as a mark in infrastructure negotiations and includes money to pay for electric vehicle charging stations, and other elements that combat climate change. The largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is transportation.

Peter DeFazio (D-Ore), the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, stated that the threat from climate change requires "we must rebuild in ways we never thought about before." Although it will be costly, the good news is that it will create millions of well-paid jobs.

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