Washington Weekly: May 19, 2021

Washington Weekly: May 19, 2021

The Past Week in D.C.

Last week, the EPA released its first Climate Indicators report since 2016, detailing the devastating effects of climate change on parts of our country. Because the Trump administration delayed the release of the report during the entirety of his presidency, this is the first time we are seeing the disturbing climate impacts that occurred throughout his term and the everyday impact they are having on Americans.

The International Energy Agency released a detailed report on Tuesday outlining what it would take for the world to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In short, countries across the globe need to act immediately to stop using fossil fuels in order to avoid global temperatures from increasing 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, the increase that scientists say will create irreversible damage. 

On Monday, the Biden administration revealed a plan to cut carbon emissions from federal buildings and homes using newly developed building-performance standards.

In last week’s newsletter, we mentioned a virtual event presented by Climate Power on the future of clean energy investment and jobs, featuring Energy Secretary Granholm, Governor Whitmer, and Senator Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Here is a recording of that conversation, in case you missed it. 

May 2021 has been declared National Mental Health Awareness Month, and so throughout this month we want to continue to provide information about the links between climate change and mental health. While most of us are aware of the disproportionate physical and public health impact of climate change on Hispanic/LatinX communities — and racial and ethnic minorities in general — this week we want to highlight the psychological impact of climate change on these populations. 

Michigan LCV Analysis: What does this mean for Michigan?

President Biden “keeps on truckin” (literally) in his push for the American Jobs Act, stopping in Dearborn yesterday to proclaim “The future of the auto industry is electric”… before racing off on an unscripted test drive

In his first presidential visit to Michigan, Biden toured Ford Motor Company’s electrical vehicle plant where it is building its new F-150 Lightning — the company’s first electric pickup truck

The truck, which will be officially unveiled tonight, is an important milestone for President Biden’s plans to electrify America’s transportation system (along with regional transit and high speed rail) and a big step in the fight against climate change. 

While climate policy remains frustratingly partisan in Washington, companies like Ford and other autos are moving ahead with electrification plans that in many ways mirror some of the clean energy portions of Biden’s American Jobs Plan. Which makes Ford’s release of an electric F-150 — the country’s most popular vehicle — such an important step. 

Pickup trucks are deeply tied to American culture. And while many conservatives, who make up a vast majority of U.S. truck ownership, may not choose to buy an electric car for environmental reasons, they will likely continue to buy high-performing trucks — meaning that electric pickups could very well make or break Biden’s goals on infrastructure and climate, as well as his plans to restore fuel economy standards

Even if convincing a majority of truck drivers of the climate benefits of electrification seems unattainable, electric trucks may, at the very least, create a wave of “accidental environmentalists” — people who would never buy a Tesla, but will always buy American made trucks, including electric ones. 

A Deeper Dive

We want to draw you attention to two exciting Michigan-focused virtual events happening this week and next week:

The Michigan Environmental Justice Conference is taking place this week, with six sessions remaining tomorrow. You can register for one or more of them here

The Michigan Climate and Energy Summit is taking place next week, May 24-27. The first two days of the virtual event will feature guest speakers including Lt. Governor Gilchrist, Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, EGLE Director Liesl Clark, and MPSC Commissioner Katherine Peretick, among others. The final day will include breakout and information sessions. You can register for the event here.

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