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Time for the Senate to pass Shaheen-Portman – without Keystone XL
It’s ironic—on the same day a massive report is released detailing the increasingly severe impacts of climate change on the U.S., the Senate will likely sink a common-sense energy efficiency bill by weighing it down with partisan, anti-environmental, anti-climate riders.
The National Wildlife Federation supports passage of the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency legislation (S. 2262) because it would be a logical step in the right direction – promoting measures to improve the efficiency of our buildings, reducing pollution, and saving consumers money. A win-win-win. The bill would even create quite a few jobs, while we’re at it! It would also help protect our wildlife and their habitat by slowing emissions of climate-disrupting pollutants.
The lead authors of the bill have even gone out of their way, over the course of the bill’s multi-year slog through the Senate, to engage supporters from both sides of the aisle, garnering 62 cosponsors on this latest iteration – enough to pass the bill! That is, if a vote were to occur right now, on the legislation itself.
No Clean Vote?
But no. To allow this broadly supported, win-win-win legislation to even be considered, some in the Senate are demanding a separate vote on a bill to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, as well as votes on several anti-environment riders to Shaheen-Portman. Some of these riders would directly undermine the administration’s ability to combat climate change – by gutting regulations to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, our largest source of CO2. Another possible amendment would bar federal agencies from considering the “social cost of carbon” when conducting environmental reviews of major projects – barring them, essentially, from considering the climate costs of the projects under review.
It’s unclear exactly how this will play out in the Senate, but one thing is clear – it’s simply ridiculous to undermine the benefits of this positive legislation by tying its passage to harmful riders or paired legislation, all to score political points. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, if constructed, would add the equivalent carbon pollution to the atmosphere every year as adding 5.7 million new cars to the road every year. That’s clearly a step in the wrong direction. Right now, we need the support of Senator Franken (D-MN), Senator Carper (D-DE), and Senator Bennet (D-CO) to ensure the Senate doesn’t ram through this approval of the polluting Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as ransom for the consideration of the Shaheen-Portman bill. Call, email, or tweet at them right now!
As the National Climate Assessment makes clear today – we simply cannot wait to address the impacts of climate change. They’re here, and they’re getting worse. For the sake of our wildlife, our communities, and our planet, I hope the Senate can see pass the short-term gains of political grandstanding for at least a day – and pass this common-sense legislation without climate-harming riders. Enough is enough.