The $369 Billion Question

Let’s get lawmakers on the record about the US climate bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks at a news conference following the weekly Senate Republican Caucus Meeting in the U.S. Capitol Building on August 02, 2022 in Washington, DC. During the news conference the Republican Senators spoke about their dismay with the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Will the US Senate pass the new Manchin-Schumer bill, also known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022? That’s the climate question of the week (and possibly the year). Given all 50 Senate Republicans’ lockstep opposition to serious climate action, the vote is expected to be close. It comes as vast swaths of the planet are sweltering under record-breaking heat made unequivocally worse by climate change.

While the Inflation Reduction Act contains some gifts for the fossil fuel industry, most analysts consider it a big win for clean energy. Manchin and Schumer claim the bill would slash US greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by the end of this decade — shy of what science says is needed to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but a major step in the right direction.

With Manchin on board, Capitol Hill reporters have turned their attention to Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the one Democrat whose position remains publicly unknown. “But why stop there?,” Mark Hertsgaard, CCNow’s executive director, asked on Twitter. “At a time when the planet is literally on fire, shouldn’t EVERY senator be pressed, especially by their home state media, on whether they support the most far-reaching climate bill the US government has ever considered?”

The New York Times recently provided exactly this public service — albeit regarding gun control — when it asked all 50 GOP senators after the Uvalde mass shooting if they would support two bills just passed by the House of Representatives.

Not all newsrooms have the resources the Times does to hold politicians accountable. But every local news outlet, no matter how small, can ask their state’s senators if they’re a yes or no vote. Voters need that information to make informed choices in this November’s midterm elections and beyond. In a democracy, elected officials need to know they’re being watched, and it’s the press’s job to do the watching.

From us

CCNow Q&A. Twice each month, CCNow speaks with different journalists about their experiences on the climate beat. This week, we spoke with Marianne Lavelle, who covers politics for Inside Climate News. “If you have your eyes open, you’ll see the stories of people continuing to work on climate solutions and strive for climate action despite all the obstacles,” she told us. Read it here…

Not a drill. In a Guardian op-ed, authors Rebecca Solnit and Terry Tempest Williams say it’s high time for ordinary people to declare a climate emergency. “What history shows us is that when people lead, governments follow,” they write. Newsrooms, too, should reflect what thousands of scientists say: climate change is not just a crisis, it is an emergency that requires immediate action. News outlets are invited to sign CCNow’s climate emergency statement here.

Noteworthy stories

$54 billion. As California endures its annual “season of suffering,” Governor Gavin Newsom plans to spend $54 billion to battle climate change. “We want to future-proof this state and we are in a hurry,” said Newsom. Investments will focus on offshore wind, carbon capture technology, and satellites to detect methane leaks. By Ben Tracy at CBS News…

Kevin McCarthy’s green secret. The money Democrats back for clean energy is mostly spent in Republican districts, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Opinion and Enersection. The California district that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy represents, for example, ranks number 1 in the nation for grid-battery and utility-scale solar projects. Op-ed by Liam Denning and Jeff Davies at Bloomberg…

Rich folks behaving badly… Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, and Jay-Z are just a few of the celebrities being called out for the climate impacts of their private jet use – and their lame excuses – reports Laura Snapes at the Guardian…

… and some responsibly. Coldplay, Billie Eilish, and Harry Styles are among the musicians making climate pledges and working with organizations such as REVERB to make the music business more sustainable. By Ta’Leah Van Sistine at The Washington Post…

Harm’s Way. With disasters on the rise, more Americans need help relocating to safer ground, but the government support infrastructure is weak and broadly unresponsive, according to a new investigation. By Alex Lubben, Julia Shipley, Zak Cassel, and Olga Loginova, for the Center for Public Integrity, with Columbia Journalism Investigations…

Via Twitter

Laura Tobin, aTV weather forecaster for Good Morning Britain, linked the record-breaking extreme heat that blasted England last month to climate change. Climate deniers lashed out, and she wasn’t the only meteorologist targeted, the Guardian reported.

But Tobin was doing her job: reporting the truth. In fact, a new attribution study finds that climate change made the UK heatwave at least 10 times more likely and a few degrees hotter. Here’s Tobin’s tweet:

Free to republish

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Resources & events

Overview. The BlueGreen Alliance, a group of labor unions and environmental organizations, has produced a detailed breakdown of climate, energy, and environmental justice investments in the Inflation Reduction Act, here. There’s also a side-by-side comparison with the ​​Build Back Better Act, here.

Escalating youth activism. Going beyond marches, young climate activists under the “End Fossil: Occupy!” banner plan to occupy hundreds of schools and universities globally this fall to challenge still fossil fuel-reliant economies.

Industry news. “As climate journalists keep reporting on broken pledges and indifferent politicians, many could experience paralysing guilt,” write Katherine Dunn and Diego Arguedas Ortiz of the Oxford Climate Journalism Network. They share four takeaways about climate journalism after working with a cohort of 100 journalists from around the world.

Jobs, etc.

Jobs. The Texas Tribune has a position open for an environment reporter. Cabin Radio is hiring a climate science reporter. The Seattle Times needs a temporary environment reporter. And Mongabay is looking for freelance pitches on climate and environmental issues in Africa.

Fellowships. The Religion & Environment Story Project at Boston University is looking for 10 journalists to gather twice over the course of six months for on-the-job training designed to develop new ways of thinking about the climate crisis and the role played by religious individuals and institutions.

Contest. The Global Landscapes Forum is hosting “The Stories of Africa,” a youth storytelling contest that aims to amplify critical voices on topics such as food systems, land degradation, and youth initiatives from across the African continent.