Manchin’s In! Now What?
Homework for the climate concerned
News of the pending Manchin-Schumer bill came as a very welcome surprise this week. It still has an uncertain road ahead (all eyes on Senator Sinema), but if it does pass, it will be the biggest climate legislation in US history. That’s worth taking a moment to celebrate. It’s also some much needed evidence that our congress is not completely broken.
But once we acknowledge our accomplishment, we need to get right back to work. Politics in the United States works best when citizens actively engage. That means you – American readers of the Instigator – have some homework to do.
Contact your elected officials in DC. Let them know you strongly support this bill. If they are already in favor of it, you will be reinforcing their position and giving them the credit they want (and deserve). If they aren’t, you’re adding to the pressure. It matters. One of the biggest things I learned in the 11 years I ran TNC was that elected officials listen to their voters much more than most of us realize. But they don’t hear from us enough.
Not sure how to do this? Check out the Climate Changemakers website. It has contact info, sample scripts, and daily action plans. Most other environmental NGOs will help you too.
Encourage your employer or other organizational affiliations to put out a statement in support of this bill. Now we’re getting into the bigger asks, but they are no less important. We need to operate at more than just the individual level to make things happen. With so much in the balance, now is the time to start. Any company that purports to be a climate leader should have no problem vocally supporting this legislation. The same goes for their trade organizations. But they need the push from us. Let’s make them do it!
For help, check out ClimateVoice — an NGO that helps mobilize employees to urge companies to go “all in” on climate. And if you have your own ideas, please share them with the rest of us here.
Learn the facts. We need to be able to explain to family, friends, and co-workers why we support this bill. Otherwise we know what happens: these reasonable initiatives get branded as job-destroying, inflation causing, radical acts — even when they’re not.
In this case, the bill is aptly named “The Inflation Reduction Act” and has the support of mainstream economists. Its climate provisions refrain from attacking fossil fuels but instead make clean energy less expensive. Senator Joe Manchin, obviously no radical tree hugger, successfully bargained for compromises that make this bill a model of common sense, no-regrets legislation.
Resist the urge to let perfect be the enemy of the good. America has become the world leader at partisan bashing of all proposed centrist legislation so that such bills never get anywhere. Let's not make that mistake this time. This bill – if it passes – is by far the biggest legislative step forward on climate that we have seen. Getting it passed is a starting point and will give us momentum to build on to improve. But failing leaves us with nothing.
Say thank you. Many people have hung in there and worked very hard over a long period to make this legislation possible. Staffers on the Hill, environmental NGO teams, activists, journalists, business leaders and concerned citizens (all of you) have been pushing for smart policy like this. This work can be grueling. Our climate policy champions had every excuse to become discouraged or even give up. But they didn't. Bravo – you folks are heroes!
I’m optimistic about next week, and I hope you are too. But we can’t just sit by and watch it unfold. Let’s get in the mix and make climate policy happen.
ONE LAST THING
Check out “For the Birds: The Birdsong Project” — a superb tribute by leading writers, musicians, and artists celebrating the joy birds bring into our lives. At my house we’re listening right now to The Flaming Lips jamming with some great hummingbirds.