Between a new House Speaker and a quickly approaching election year, it would be easy to believe that climate policy will come to a sputtering halt. However, we believe the contrary. Climate policy continues to gain traction if you know where to look.
Several factors contribute to this enduring progress. Some climate policies have garnered bipartisan support, the adoption of larger legislative packages offers more opportunities for climate advancements, and initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) have set the stage for substantial climate wins. As we approach 2024, organizations should begin strategizing how to influence policy decisions effectively to have the greatest impact on reducing emissions and advancing clean technologies.
Here are a few key policy areas to watch closely:
FY25 Appropriations Bills: Each appropriations cycle can serve as a de facto climate bill if organizations concentrate on the programs they believe will have the most significant impact on reducing emissions. Many programs, such as the Department of Energy's ARPA-E and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, have strong bipartisan support. Making the case for why these programs should maintain funding levels – or receive more funding – begins within the President’s Budget and is continued with Appropriations Committees and congressional offices.
Transmission: The debt ceiling compromise contained the beginning stages of true energy permitting reform, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle remain committed to seeing real change followed through. The Administration has been vocal about needing more transmission infrastructure to unlock IRA funds and Republicans are eager to reduce permitting red tape. Significant reforms, like what is needed for transmission and broader permitting reform, take time. In Congress, even passage of a bill in 2024 or early 2025 is considered moving quickly. For organizations committed to this issue, use this time to share your stories knowing that influential elected officials are committed to getting this done.
The Farm Bill: The Farm Bill, a pivotal legislative vehicle that authorizes USDA programs every five years, has evolved to incorporate more climate-conscious policies. Many of these policies enjoy bipartisan support, including initiatives aimed at expanding voluntary carbon markets, enhancing soil health, and reducing emissions through regenerative agriculture. While the Farm Bill was supposed to be reauthorized by September 30, 2023, it is increasingly likely to be pushed into next year. This gives groups more time to work with committees of jurisdiction and congressional offices to push for more climate policies within the broader bill.
Foreign Pollution Fees: Last week, three Republican senators introduced the Foreign Pollution Fee Act. This bill proposes setting carbon tariffs on imported goods with higher emissions than domestic products, while concurrently fostering trade with climate-conscious nations and promoting U.S. energy production. Introduction of this bill is likely to tee up bipartisan discussions around carbon border adjustment tariffs and potentially tee up a larger climate package that has both Republican and Democratic priorities.