As Federal Climate Change Negotiations Enter Home Stretch, Lawmakers Need to Hear from Voters

It’s time to tell Republican Brian Fitzpatrick to actually put the communities and constituents he represents ahead of partisan politics.

After more than a year of hard-fought negotiations and persistent advocacy, Congress is finally homing in on a landmark deal that would head off a climate disaster by dramatically boosting clean energy

And it couldn’t come a moment too soon. 

The science tells us what everyone who lives in places like Bucks County already knows – in the face of a rapidly warming planet, we’re running out of time to tackle climate change. 

We’re already seeing the effects here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, with more frequent and severe storms and flooding becoming a fact of life. 

While critical details still need to be worked out, the current legislation under discussion would be the single largest investment in fighting climate change in our nation’s history. 

It would turn an existential threat into an opportunity to reimagine our economy, investing hundreds of billions of dollars into clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar. 

The goal isn’t just to avert climate change, but also to build prosperity for middle class families by creating jobs and lowering and stabilizing energy prices for the long term. 

It would create millions of jobs, putting people to work upgrading our electric grid, installing solar panels and constructing new wind farms that will power our economy into the future. 

And at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is driving up energy prices and sparking inflation, it would be the single most impactful step we could take to reign in energy prices for the long term by reducing our reliance on foreign oil and saving money for local businesses, working families, and seniors on fixed incomes.

We know that there have been false starts before, when late last year talks over a larger energy and social spending plan collapsed. 

But no legislation this transformative can make its way through the legislative process in today’s hyper-partisan environment without a few rough patches. 

Despite being elected on a mandate for decisive climate action, President Biden hasn’t been able to win a single Republican vote to enact his energy agenda. 

That means that he has had to rely entirely on Democratic votes in a Congress that is nearly evenly divided. In the House of Representatives, the president can only lose a handful of votes, and in the Senate every single Democratic senator must agree. 

In this environment, it’s difficult for the president to accomplish all of his goals. And this bill won’t have everything in it that the president asked for. 

Nevertheless, the fact that we’ve come this far is an enormous achievement, and the bill currently under negotiation would represent a game-changing step forward in building a more sustainable, greener economy. 

While negotiations are underway behind closed doors in Washington, there are still things that voters here in Pennsylvania can do to ensure that a climate bill gets over the finish line. 

Lawmakers are facing relentless attacks from the deep-pocketed oil and gas industries. 

These companies, which are already seeing record profits, are seeking to take advantage of the war in Ukraine to push an aggressive agenda that would eviscerate key environmental protections and increase emissions at the very moment when we need to get tough on carbon pollution. 

In the face of the millions of dollars in corporate special interests, our elected representatives need to hear from real Pennsylvania families that swift action to fight climate change is important. 

Sen. Bob Casey sits on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which will have jurisdiction over large sections of the bill. He has been a staunch ally of the environment and needs to hear from you. 

At the same time, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents Bucks County in the House, has come out against any action

Though Fitzpatrick styles himself a moderate Republican and claims to want to work across the aisle to tackle the important issues facing our country, on this issue he’s completely abdicated his leadership role. 

Fitzpatrick voted against the legislation when it was first up for consideration in the House. Owing to procedural requirements, Fitzpatrick will have a chance to vote on the bill again after it passes the Senate before it can head to the president’s desk. 

It’s time to tell Fitzpatrick to put the communities and constituents he represents first.  

As we enter the home stretch, it’s important to continue fighting for the best possible climate bill. 

We have a historic opportunity to tackle the climate crisis while creating jobs, lowering energy costs and building a 21st Century economy powered by clean, renewable energy. We need to keep on fighting until we get it done.

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Molly Parzen

Molly Parzen is Executive Director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, a statewide environmental advocacy group.