Climate Change Makes Its Way into the Federal Budget Process

Increasing temperatures continue to impact the Rocky Mountain pika population (photo: Flickr user Daniele Colombo)
The Senate is currently in full swing debating the budget plans that were adopted in March. On April 15th the Senate voted on a series of Democratic priorities which will go to a budget conference committee as the next step in the budget resolution process. This means that the Democrats raised topics, in the form of amendments, meant to guide the party through the rest of the budget process. The votes are technically non-binding, but stress policy issues that they believe should be included in any final budget agreement.

Among issues such as equal pay, Social Security, and student loans, Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado made a motion on Wednesday that climate change should be one of these priority issues. His amendment deals with responding to the causes and impacts of climate change, especially in recognizing the economic and national security threats posed by it. The amendment specifically brings up funding of Department of Defense initiatives to bolster climate resilience of critical department infrastructure to impacts from climate change. It also asks that the Senate not support funds that would undermine the response to climate change, including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on carbon pollution.

Let’s make it clear that the Congress plans to respond to the serious economic and national security threats posed by climate change.” – Senator Michael Bennet

The motion was agreed to overwhelmingly – a very rare sight for a climate change amendment in today’s political environment. Though the vote was non-binding, the sentiment could still have lasting positive impacts on the budget process as a whole. It could play an important role in the funding that climate research, coastal adaption, or the EPA gets in the coming years.

Mule deer
Mule deer are one of many western species impacted by climate change (photo: USFWS)
Senator Bennet realizes that the U.S. needs to take action on climate change. Across the United States and around the world, climate change poses an increasingly dire threat to wildlife, communities, and public health. Warming temperatures, extreme weather events, droughts, and sea level rise all lead to habitat loss and species decline. In Senator Bennet’s state of Colorado, wildlife like cutthroat trout, sage grouse, and mule deer are on the front lines of climate change. Impacts of climate change such as wildfires are also harming Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy and threatens its industry and infrastructure. But these issues are not unique to Colorado and can, in fact, be seen across the country.


Colorado can’t wait any longer for Washington to address climate change. Unchecked carbon pollution represents a material threat to our state and its economy – whether it’s a shorter ski season, the increased threat of wildfire, or a multi-year drought imperiling our $40 billion dollar agriculture industry. … We’re serious about combatting climate change and will work to increase investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, and reducing carbon pollution.” – Senator Michael Bennet

Fortunately, as directed by the President’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA is working to address the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S through their Clean Power Plan (CPP). The proposed CPP will set first ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants and cut national carbon pollution by 30% by 2030. EPA is expected to finalize the rule by late summer 2015. In the meantime, we’ll need Senators like Michael Bennet and many more to stand strong on climate, as the CPP comes under attack in Congress. Wildlife can’t wait for climate action!

Tweet: Thank you @SenBennetCO for beginning to address climate change and standing up for wildlife! #actonclimate Thank Senator Bennet by tweeting: Thank you @SenBennetCO for taking steps to address climate change and standing up for wildlife! #actonclimate

Take ActionContact your senator to make sure they stand up for the Clean Power Plan, the first ever limits on carbon pollution!