J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Now that Sen. Joe Manchin has sponsored legislation that includes significant new funding to fight climate change, talk of President Biden declaring a climate emergency may be over.
In a A dramatic reversal On Wednesday, Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has tended to derail the president’s legislative agenda, suddenly announced his support for a watered-down version of Biden’s ambitious “Build Better” domestic agenda. Manchin said he agreed to the possible acting A strong vote for the 2022 deflation bill, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars to cut carbon emissions and promote clean energy.
In an email to NPR, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, a key sponsor of the climate change legislation, praised the “$300 billion investment in clean energy” and called it “a great deal.”
The president himself called it “the most important investment we’ve ever made in our energy security.”
Manchin certainly has withdrew from the negotiations Before an earlier, more ambitious version of the president’s “Build Better” plan. And until the final bill is signed and delivered to Biden’s desk, there are no guarantees.
Assuming the latest deal remains intact, Biden’s motivation to declare a climate emergency appears to have waned, said Richard Newell, CEO of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit that promotes climate action.
“It’s absolutely huge news,” he says of the breakthrough agreement. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but the deal that appears to be in place puts the Biden administration’s climate goals within reach.
Declaring a state of emergency could face challenges
Forgoing the declaration of a climate emergency, with all the symbolic power it can add to tackling the problem, may seem like a disservice to environmentalists. But in practical terms, invoking the National Emergency Act (NEA) of 1976 would not have given Biden as much leeway and could have opened his climate agenda to legislative veto and judicial review.
Previous uses of this law include former US President George W. Bush Declaring terrorism as a national emergency in 2001which has been renewed every year since, and more controversially, former President Donald Trump Declaration of a national emergency to allow him to use money from other programs to build his southern border wall.
“Depending on what you count, [there are] Daniel Farber, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says there are probably 12 to 12 or more laws that have provisions that might be helpful for climate change. 136 powers authorized under the NEAAccording to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice.
One such power is the Defense Production Act, says Michael Gerard, a professor at Columbia Law School. In a hypothetical example, “if there’s a shortage of cadmium and it’s needed to make wind turbines, and he says you need to send the rare cadmium to these wind turbine makers, he can do that,” Gerrard says.
But other regulations, such as suspending oil and gas leases on federal properties and restricting oil exports, are unlikely to be helpful given the current domestic political and geopolitical situation — namely, Russia’s ongoing incursion into Ukraine, said Elizabeth Guitin, a senior executive. to be , freedom and national security, in Brennan Center.
“It’s not going to happen,” Guitin says. If Biden declares a national climate emergency, “he will do nothing to limit the production or consumption of fossil fuels.”
Maybe it was a short-term solution
Although citing the NEA for climate change is a novel idea, Guitin says it’s “inappropriate” given the circumstances.
“The purpose behind emergency powers is to give presidents short-term power in situations that Congress could not foresee,” he says. They’re not going to address long-standing problems… They’re certainly not going to run away from Congress when Congress has talked about whatever action the president wants to take and said we’re not going to support it.
Such a declaration must also be renewed annually by the President, and any future administration can revoke it or simply allow it to expire.
Separately, Guitin says, Congress is scheduled to vote every six months on a joint resolution to end emergency declarations under the NEA — a responsibility it often shirks, but is reasserting itself in the current bipartisan environment. has undertaken
“So the White House buys itself a congressional climate change referendum every six months,” he says. I doubt this vote is in the ‘pro’ column here.”
Elizabeth Gilmore, an associate professor of environmental science and policy at Clark University, says the limits of any president’s ability to unilaterally influence climate policy have also become more apparent in recent years.
With the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration, I think we’ve already seen the challenges of trying to move forward [on] “Many policies, but climate policies only through executive orders.”
“Moving these types of measures through Congress and the Senate is preferable,” says Gilmore. “So it certainly eliminates the need to make this kind of immediate pressure announcement.”