In terms of climate, 5 new political facts

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Manchin today countered reports that a deal on climate is fully dead (see related story). Proponents of climate and energy legislation say they’d be thrilled to work with Manchin if he’s willing, but they’re also plotting their next political and policy moves with the expectation that a deal with Manchin won’t pan out.

1. Calls for Biden to do more

“President Biden must immediately use the full scope of his executive powers to address climate chaos, starting by declaring a climate emergency,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter last night.

Last night’s news prompted climate advocates to demand that the Biden administration do everything in its power to tackle climate change using its executive authority.

Story Highlights

  • It’s been a familiar exercise in Washington since the Biden administration started its push to include big climate provisions in party-line legislation that would only require 51 votes in the Senate: The coal-state senator dangles hope for a deal before the negotiations blow up publicly.

  • Here are five new political realities:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tweeted, “it’s now time for executive Beast Mode.”

It’s now “doubly important” that the White House and Biden “move as aggressively and strongly as possible on executive action,” said Pete Maysmith, senior director of campaigns for the League of Conservation Voters. That includes looking for new ways to cut emissions and ensuring that “dirty fossil fuel projects don’t go forward,” he said.

The Obama administration similarly turned to executive authority to curbing emissions after climate legislation fell through in Congress, but it’s an approach that’s vulnerable to legal challenges and the whims of future presidents. Another hurdle: the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month that curbed EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. “It’s certainly unhelpful,” Maysmith said of the court’s ruling, but there are still “a lot of very important, powerful climate actions that can be taken” despite the ruling.

Bob Perciasepe, who was EPA deputy administrator during the Obama administration, said there’s now more pressure on EPA and the Energy and Interior departments to act. “The White House offices will undoubtedly be having meetings with all the different agencies” about how to ramp up their activities, he said. 2. The left is angry (again)

Manchin has been a prominent foe for progressives and environmental activists throughout the administration, as he’s been accused of blocking action on climate. “God my heart is shattered in a million pieces. I can’t even process the inhumanity,” Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash wrote on Twitter last night. “Again and again, these people look at their children and grandchildren and willingly pass on a violent and cruel world.”

Biden campaigned on a pledge that he would aggressively tackle climate change, and the collapse of a congressional climate and clean energy package could hurt Democrats’ ability to rally voters — particularly young voters — heading into the 2022 midterms and even the 2024 presidential election. But Democrats and environmentalists are hoping to use the collapse of a climate deal in Congress to make Manchin obsolete by building up a Democratic majority in the next Senate that wouldn’t force Dems to woo the West Virginia Democrat.

3. Midterm impact Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who authored climate legislation that withered during the Obama administration, replied to Prakash: “Rage keeps me from tears. Resolve keeps me from despair. We will not allow a future of climate disaster. I believe in the power of the Green New Deal. The power of young people. I am with you. We will not give up.”