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Power Up: Climate groups to launch multi-state tour in push for major climate legislation

with Tobi Raji

Good Wednesday morning. Don't forget to have a chocolate cookie (with milk, duh) on this glorious holiday that is National Chocolate Chip Cookie day. This is the Power Up newsletter – thanks for waking up with us. 

The campaign

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power will embark on a multi-state tour and underwrite a $10 million ad campaign during the August recess aimed at passing major climate legislation. The two groups will hold key events in the swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Nevada.

The push from the climate activists to create millions of clean energy jobs and tackle the climate crisis comes as the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package being crafted by the Senate includes only a fraction of the money initially proposed to reduce emissions driving climate change. What will be inside the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which is expected to include more climate components, appears increasingly less clear. 

The reconciliation bill is viewed by climate hawks and progressives as their best chance to curb climate emissions over the next decade. But pressure is only likely to increase on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to move forward on the bipartisan bill without a tandem reconciliation package less palatable to moderate Democrats. 

  • LCV and Climate Power will be campaigning in Arizona, after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), a key swing vote for the reconciliation bill that needs all Democratic senators, emphatically said she would not support a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill. 
  • The campaign will also run TV, print, digital and billboard ads in 9 key states and 13 congressional districts “elevating the importance of members of Congress fighting for clean energy jobs,” according to a release provided to Power Up ahead of it's release, including Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Virginia. 
  • The groups will notably will not be making their way to West Virginia, where Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) serves as another potential roadblock after telling reporters the was “very, very disturbed” by provisions in the reconciliation bill he believes are aimed at eliminating fossil fuels. 

LCV and Climate Power's message isn't just intended for Congress: Outside climate groups have so far refrained from lobbing attacks against the Biden administration as it works to undo four years of former president Donald Trump's demolition of environmental protections. But patience is wearing thin as the Biden administration has lagged on key climate policies, according to activists. 

Higher expectations: “They've gotten off to the strongest start of any administration to date. But that executive action needs to continue and we're anxiously awaiting things like the clean car standards and want [those standards] to be as strong as possible,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, a senior vice president of government affairs at LCV, told Power Up. “And executive action needs to be coupled with transformational legislative and moving the country to 100 percent clean energy.” 

  • Example: Shortly after being sworn in, Biden tasked the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department with undoing a Trump administration rule gutting clean car standards implemented under President Obama. The agencies, however, missed the deadline to set clean car standards, leaving advocates concerned it will fail to reinstate Obama-era standards.
  • “While climate experts and advocates are pushing the administration to revive or surpass the tougher regulations imposed by President Obama, automakers are pitching a more industry-friendly agreement reached last year with California,” E&E News's Arianna Skibell reported last week.

Notable priorities left out of the bipartisan infrastructure deal include the clean electricity standard and the creation of a civilian climate corps. The White House has characterized the bipartisan bill as a first step on climate in a two-step process. But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) declined to guarantee that progressives would be satisfied with the climate provisions included in the reconciliation bill: 

  • “Our goal, which I believe we will achieve, is to meet the president's goals on climate 80 percent of the energy by 2030 will be clean, and there will be a 50 percent reduction by 2030 of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere,” Schumer told reporters.

There's good political reason for Democrats to ensure that climate and clean energy legislation is prioritized in a reconciliation bill: a survey conducted by Hart Research for LCV and Climate Power showed the 79 percent of Democrats are concerned that Congress will not go far enough in passing policies to address climate change. 

  • “Moreover, for these Democratic base audiences, action is far more important than bipartisanship. By decisive margins, turnout voters (72 percent) and young voters (70 percent) report that when it comes to addressing climate change and promoting clean energy, they care more about Democrats passing legislation that will solve problems and help people even if few—if any—Republicans in Congress support it,” according to the report.
  • ⚠️: “…failing to act on climate and clean energy puts Democrats at risk of losing essential turnout targets and younger voters—including two-thirds of young Biden voters—in 2022. Nearly half of turnout targets and even larger numbers of young voters report that they would be LESS motivated to vote for Democrats if Democrats do not include clean energy and climate change efforts in the American Jobs Plan.”

On the Hill

THE RESULTS ARE IN: Shontel Brown, a Democratic county councilor, dealt a devastating blow to the party’s liberal wing Tuesday night, prevailing over Nina Turner, a former co-chair for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, in the Ohio primary for a safe Democratic seat,” our Post colleagues David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz report.

“In the 15th Congressional District, a safely Republican seat around Columbus, energy industry lobbyist Mike Carey prevailed over a crowded field, boosted by former president Donald Trump’s endorsement.”

🔮2022 Forecast: “Brown’s victory in the primary … brings an end to a contentious summer of internecine squabbling for Democrats over the direction of their party with Biden in the White House,” Politico’s Ally Mutnick writes

  • “The establishment forces leave the race with a blueprint for how to blunt progressive enthusiasm this cycle. But for the liberal wing, it’s another setback after a series of losses in off-year races.”
  • Brown’s defeat “could be a sign that progressives’ hopes of ousting other Democratic lawmakers in next year’s primaries will encounter a stiff resistance from the party’s establishment — backed by the same coalition of pragmatic Black voters and older, moderate White voters who carried President Biden to victory in last year’s presidential primary,” CNN’s Eric Bradner, Ethan Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta report.

The policies

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW EVICTION MORATORIUM: “The Biden administration on Tuesday imposed a new, 60-day federal moratorium on evictions in areas of the country ravaged by the delta variant, a move aimed at protecting hundreds of thousands of renters at risk of being kicked out of their homes during a pandemic,” the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush, Michael D. Shear and Alan Rappeport report.

  • “The action was also intended to quell a rebellion among angry Democrats who blamed the White House for allowing a previous eviction ban to expire on Saturday — after the Democratic-controlled House was unable to muster enough votes to extend that moratorium.”
  • “The expiration presented the president with a thorny choice: Side with the CDC and his own lawyers, who saw an extension as a dangerous step that could limit executive authority during health crises, or heed the demands of his party’s progressive wing to take immediate action to halt what they saw as a preventable housing crisis.”

Enter Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.): “Instead of shrugging and going back home to begin a planned House recess, Bush, who experienced eviction and homelessness earlier in her life, decided to put the White House on the spot with a series of overnight protests at the Capitol,” the Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore writes.

  • She “drew immense support from other Democrats by sleeping outside the U.S. Capitol for four consecutive nights in protest of the lapsed moratorium, sending a signal to the White House that the backlash was only growing,” our colleagues Jeff Stein, Tyler Pager, Seung Min Kim and Tony Romm report.
  • “So after days of insisting there was nothing the White House could do, the Biden administration announced its new actions on Tuesday.”
  • “The Missouri Democrat’s surprising win after an impromptu vigil on the East Front … illustrates the burgeoning influence held by the freshman progressive and other members of the so-called Squad both inside and outside the Capitol,” Politico’s Nicholas Wu, Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris write.
  • “Once dismissed as liberal firebrands with large Twitter followings but little impact inside Congress, the Squad has added members and continued knocking off high-profile incumbents, forcing senior Democrats to listen.”

The investigations

CUOMO UNDER FIRE: “New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees, creating a hostile work environment for women in violation of state and federal law, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday,” per our colleagues Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer.

  • “Hours after the release of a 165-page report that detailed numerous allegations against Cuomo, Biden said he believed the Democratic governor should resign.”
  • “Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie (D) also said Cuomo could no longer remain in office, adding that state lawmakers will move forward ‘expeditiously’ with an ongoing impeachment investigation.”
  • But it’s not just Biden and Heastie … most Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) are calling on Cuomo to resign.

“The findings mark a new low for once-celebrated Democratic star, who won an Emmy in 2020 for his nationally televised briefings during the pandemic, appeared on track for reelection to a fourth term in 2022 and was frequently discussed as a presidential contender,” Dawsey and Scherer write.

  • “For years he was the savvy political operator, rising through his party’s ranks on the strength of shrewd instincts, careful calculations and a famous last name. Then he was the domineering chief executive with a flourishing national brand and an iron grip on power in New York,” the New York Times’ Katie Glueck writes. “Now, he is alone.”
  • “It is plain that Cuomo, stripped of his usual abilities to cajole, browbeat or intimidate fellow politicians, and abandoned by supporters in New York and Washington, has reached the most vulnerable moment of his decades in public life — a moment that is poised to reshape the landscape of political power in New York.”

What we’re watching: “Shortly after the report was released, [Albany County prosecutor David Soares] issued a statement saying that his office was conducting an investigation into Cuomo’s behavior and that it would be requesting investigative materials that the attorney general’s office had obtained,” the New York Times’ Jonah E. Bromwich reports.

  • As for impeachment … “it could take a month to complete the inquiry and draw up the articles of impeachment,” per the New York Times’ J. David Goodman. “A trial in the State Senate could commence as soon as late September or early October.”