Climate Policy News You Can Use — February 2023

Dear Colleagues,

It was inspiring to be at GreenBiz last week, joining nearly 2,000 sustainability leaders striving to meet this moment with ambition, commitment and collaboration. A highlight for me was speaking to a packed room about How the Inflation Reduction Act can help you reach Net Zero with Christine Brynaert from Deloitte, Brian Janous from Microsoft, Nadia Pabst from GM and Rob Threlkeld from GM. A big thank you to them, and to all those who attended!

Here’s the latest on U.S. climate policy developments and timely opportunities for businesses to engage.


I. Congressional Review Act resolutions to oppose now

Two Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions are in the works that are bad news for businesses with climate and public health goals. The CRA allows recently finalized federal regulations to be overturned with a simple majority vote in both chambers and a signature from the president. While President Biden is sure to veto both resolutions, how much support they get in Congress matters. Bad votes can set bad precedents, and the regulations these resolutions seek to overturn are worth defending on their merits. The Senate could vote on them as soon as early March, so the time to weigh in is now.


CRA resolution to restrict risk management in retirement plans

Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Rep Andy Barr have introduced resolutions (S J Res 8  and H J Res 30) to overturn the Department of Labor (DOL)’s recently finalized rule that enables – but does not require – retirement plan managers to consider all factors relevant to investment risk and return in their decision-making, including financial risks due to climate change. The CRA’s proponents are seeking to return to the previous administration’s rule which created barriers for fund managers to consider ESG factors, even when these factors affect investment risk and return. It is critical to preserve the DOL rule so that fund managers are able to manage risks prudently and companies are free to offer employees sound retirement options.

➢ Take Action: Contact your senators and tell them you want the DOL rule to remain in place. Urge them to vote NO on S.J. Res. 8. 

➢ Go Deeper: Listen to EDF and Ceres’ webinar on Climate and 401(k) plans, read supportive comments on the DOL rule from the AFL-CIOVanguardTIAA, and the American Retirement Association; and this synthesis of institutional and individual comments.


CRA resolution to roll back emissions standards for trucks

Earlier this month, Sen. Deb Fischer (R, NE) and other Republican Senators introduced a resolution that would overturn the EPA’s final rule for more protective nitrogen oxides (NOx) standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles sold in model years 2027 and later. These updated NOx standards are an important part of EPA’s broader efforts to eliminate tailpipe pollution – including GHGs, NOx and particulates matter – from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, and are critical to protect communities from harmful air pollution.

➢ Take Action: Contact your Senators and tell them you want the NOx standards to remain in place. Urge them to vote NO on S.J. Res. 11.

➢ Go deeper: Read EDF’s statement on the final NOx standardsexpert testimony to EPA and report on the industry shift to cleaner trucks.


II. Farm Bill: new recommendations from multisector coalition

On February 22nd, the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance – a multisector coalition co-founded by EDF – released recommendations to Congress on ways to address climate change through the upcoming Farm Bill. Highlights include increasing investment in research, innovation and measurement; improving user-friendliness; prioritizing equity for underserved producers and protecting Inflation Reduction Act funding. Lawmakers are drafting the next Farm Bill now as the current one expires September 30th.

➢ Take action: Check out the FACA recommendations and consider incorporating them into your own advocacy on the Farm Bill. Contact Andrew Lentz with any questions.

➢ Go deeper: Read my colleague Ben Thomas’ blog: The farm bill is a powerful opportunity for agricultural climate solutions.


III. Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: new guidance & resources

IRA: The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service provided initial guidance on the section 48C(e) program to allocate $10 billion in credits to qualifying advanced energy projects. Treasury and IRS expect to allocate $4 billion of these credits in the first round, with approximately $1.6 billion reserved for projects located in certain energy communities. Further guidance will be issued by May 31st.

BIL: The White House released an updated notice of funding opportunity calendar that lays out what’s open and what’s coming the rest of this year. The White House also released updated state fact sheetsBIL maps showing the 20,000+ projects and funding awards announced to date, and an updated hub with an illustrated map showing some early signature projects.

➢ Go deeper: Check out America Is All In’s climate funding hub for further details and ongoing updates.


IV. Methane comments are in! 

EDF joined 22 partner organizations in filing comments on EPA’s proposed methane rule, focusing on improved data collection and transparency, tighter requirements for pneumatic pumps and strengthened protections around routine flaring of gas at oil wells. See coverage in E&E news. Our advocacy on methane will pick up again when the EPA releases its final rule later this year.


Thanks as always for reading!