‘This looks like the Exxon infrastructure bill’: Bipartisan deal omits key climate protections

“An infrastructure bill that doesn’t prevent a full-blown climate catastrophe by funding a swift transition to renewable energy would kill millions of Americans.”

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SOURCEEcoWatch
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (5th L) speaks as (L-R) Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) listen during a news conference on a bipartisan infrastructure on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 28, 2021. Alex Wong / Getty Images

The bipartisan legislation currently under Senate consideration falls far short of President Biden’s commitment to transforming the fossil-fueled underpinnings of the U.S. economy, the AP reports.

The deal includes hundreds of billions in total to support climate resilience, electric grid updates, and harden infrastructure against cyberattacks and climate change — as well as more than half a trillion for new public works projects. It does not, however, establish a Clean Electricity Standard nor a Civilian Climate Corps and includes just $7.5 billion for EV charging stations.

Environmental advocates slammed the bill. “It is clear that the deal does not meet the moment on climate or justice,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, a senior vice president of the League of Conservation Voters. Others, like Janet Redman of Greenpeace USA, were pithier. “This looks like the Exxon Infrastructure Bill,” she said. “An infrastructure bill that doesn’t prevent a full-blown climate catastrophe by funding a swift transition to renewable energy would kill millions of Americans.”

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey said the bill was “a good start,” adding Democrats would pass a separate $3.5 trillion package without GOP support to “deal with the climate crisis in the magnitude, scope and scale that’s required.”

As reported by The Associated Press:

The Senate voted, 66-28, Friday to advance the bill, but it’s unclear if enough Republicans will eventually join Democrats to support final passage. Senate rules require 60 votes in the evenly split 50-50 chamber to advance the bill but a simple majority to pass it.

The measure also faces turbulence in the closely divided House, where progressives are pushing for increased spending on climate change and other issues and centrist lawmakers are wary of adding to the federal debt.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the Senate bill inadequate and pledged to push for changes in the House, which passed a separate, $715 billion transportation and water bill in early July. Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

DeFazio, the House bill’s lead sponsor, said his bill “charts our path forward,″ adding that he is “fighting to make sure we enact a transformative bill that supports our recovery and combats the existential threat of climate change.″

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