Democratic senators call on Biden to use ‘full powers of the executive branch’ on climate

Sens. Jeff
(D-Ore.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
on Monday called on President Biden to
use “the full powers of the executive branch” on climate, following
Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.)
declaration that he would not back climate spending in a reconciliation

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol on Monday, Merkley
called on Biden to explore options ranging from declaring a national emergency
on climate to continued use of the Defense Production Act.

He also called for “an end to greenlighting new fossil
fuel projects and a beginning to greenlighting every possible renewable energy
project, from manufacturing solar panels to the deployment of renewable energy
to energy conservation.” 

The senators remarks came as the White House is actively
considering a national emergency declaration on climate change after
negotiations failed. A source told
The Hill 
the announcement could come as soon as Wednesday.

Whitehouse told reporters that among climate hawks in
Congress who are ready for “really broad, robust, rapid executive
action,” there is a sense of “relief” that the ball is in the
president’s court on the issue. The Rhode Island senator, a onetime state
attorney general, also called on the executive branch to lend the Justice
Department’s backing to existing litigation against major oil companies.

 “If I were advising the president, I’d advise him
to make specific reference to the tobacco litigation for fraud … that the DOJ
won, in a thumping victory,” Whitehouse said. “And that seems to me
to be a pretty good model for at least investigating whether such a case could
be brought against the decades of misrepresentation by the fossil fuel
industry, and its armada of prominent front groups.” 

Whitehouse also offered a blunt assessment of White House
climate adviser Gina
 saying that while she had not been “unleashed” in
her executive capacity yet, “you’re looking at a record of rebooting the
Obama social cost of carbon but neither raising it nor expanding it; getting
only one carbon regulation done, and not a particularly strong one at that;
having no visible international conversation about carbon pricing or carbon
tariffs; have been a lot of regulations from other agencies bottled up in [the
Office of Management and Budget]; failing to marshal the bully

Whitehouse and Merkley both called on Biden to approach the
climate crisis in a manner akin to World War II, with Whitehouse calling on the
president to “pick your Eisenhower” to lead executive climate

When the White House charts a clear path on executive
climate action, Merkley added, “there’s going to be a cheer that you’ll be
able to hear a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue, as people have been preparing for
that possibility.”