As Climate Legislation Stalls, Merkley Calls on Biden to Use Full Scope of Executive Powers to Act on Climate

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after reports that climate provisions have been dropped from the reconciliation package:

“I’ve seen my home state of Oregon burned up by catastrophic wildfires, exacerbated by climate chaos. I’ve seen entire towns burned to the ground. We cannot wait any longer to take action to combat climate chaos.

“We need to move boldly and immediately to transition America away from fossil fuels to renewable energy like wind and solar. We must electrify our energy grid, and incentivize the transition to electric vehicles. For too long, we’ve been waiting on a single legislative package to save us and a single legislator to determine our fate. Now that it’s clear legislation to address our climate crisis is dead, President Biden needs to put us on an emergency footing to address this disaster.

“President Biden should start by declaring climate chaos a national emergency under the National Emergency Act. Declaring a climate emergency would allow the president to redirect spending to build out renewable energy systems, help put large-scale clean transportation solutions in place, and finance distributed energy projects to boost climate resiliency. Each of these steps would help safeguard communities across America and slash the harmful pollution that drives the climate crisis.

“President Biden must immediately end all new fossil fuel leasing. It was his campaign promise, and now is the time to show the American people he’s serious by saying no to expanding our addiction to fossil fuels. That means not moving forward with lease sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico, not permitting Alaska’s Willow oil and gas project, and finalizing a 5-year leasing plan for the outer continental shelf that doesn’t offer new leasing.

“The President can – and must – expand his use of The Defense Protection Act to help address the national security threats posed by our climate crisis and strengthen emergency preparedness in America by supporting the construction of resilient energy infrastructure and mobilizing domestic industry to ramp up the manufacturing of clean energy technologies.

“These are a few of the necessary steps Biden should take to protect Americans from the coming deluge of violent storms and extreme weather events on the horizon, and can also spawn a robust clean energy industry generating millions of high-quality American jobs vital to rejuvenating our post-COVID economy. Our communities cannot be left on their own to struggle with the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis like we are seeing in Oregon as we deal with fires, smoke, extreme heat, and severe drought.

“This is the time for the administration to think big. Cover federal properties in solar panels. Electrify the entire postal fleet, not a fraction. Require the government to quantify the climate costs of every decision it makes. Use the federal government’s massive footprint as a market participant to drive down new technology costs. There are enormous opportunities and our future depends on the president and his team seizing them.”