Dec 7, 2018

Democrats to Trump: Climate needs to be in infrastructure talks

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate's top Democrat is telling President Trump that any infrastructure deal must contain robust moves to bolster zero-carbon energy and build resilience to climate change.

Why it matters: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer' demand — spelled out in a new Washington Post op-ed — is the latest sign that climate is emerging as a priority for Capitol Hill Democrats, at least for now.

Driving the news: Schumer writes that if Trump wants Democratic support on an infrastructure bill, it must have policies and money that "help transition our country to a clean-energy economy and mitigate the risks the United States already faces from climate change."

Reality check: Infrastructure is perennially floated as an area where there's potential for bipartisan dealmaking. But actually getting a sweeping political deal done is a far tougher thing to imagine happening.

  • That was true even before Schumer's decision to demand provisions aimed at addressing a problem that Trump scarcely acknowledges, and doesn't accept is human-caused despite the overwhelming scientific consensus.
  • Schumer's op-ed also bashes Trump's moves to unwind Obama-era policies.

Threat level: Schumer's op-ed says Democrats have leverage because they'll control the House and Trump will need 60 votes in the Senate — and therefore Democratic help there — to get an infrastructure bill through Congress.

Details: In the op-ed and an open letter to Trump, Schumer calls for provisions including...

  • Permanent tax credits for clean power production, electric vehicles, energy storage, efficient buildings and more.
  • Federal spending on new transmission to help move renewable power, as well as investments in smart grid and microgrid technology.
  • "Substantially" increasing federal spending on research, development and deployment of clean energy.
  • Money to help communities harden their infrastructure against extreme weather and disasters.
  • A new federal loan program to help communities build resilience, including "natural infrastructure solutions" like restored wetlands.

Go deeper: Climate politics moves up the Democrats' priority list

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