Advocacy update August 2, 2022

Advocacy update August 2, 2022

Advocacy update August 2, 2022 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection
Climate Action revived by Inflation Reduction Bill

On July 11, drawing on their discernment during General Convention, the Episcopal House of Bishops published an urgent call to climate action. On July 26, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer astounded the political world by announcing agreement on a bill that would invest $369 billion into action to slow climate change, the biggest US federal investment in climate action in history. The Senate could vote on this bill as soon as this week. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 replaces the Build Back Better Bill that the Senate failed to pass in 2021. It would be paid for by minimum taxes on large corporations, closing the carried interest tax loophole, and savings on Medicare prescription drug costs, leading to a significant reduction in the federal deficit.

Analysts are predicting its provisions will enable the US to cut its carbon emissions to 40% of 2005 levels by 2030, putting us within reach of the target needed to keep global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels. The increasingly violent storms, protracted wildfire season, and growing number of heat emergency days we’re already seeing worldwide come from a rise of 1.1 degrees.  The bill includes robust tax credits that major industries have been urging Congress to enact, and a significant investment in environmental remedies for communities disproportionately harmed by pollution and climate change. Contact Ohio Senators Brown and Portman with your views.

The Inflation Reduction Act’s key climate provisions include:

  • Rebates and tax credits to help consumers buy energy efficient appliances, electric vehicles and rooftop solar, saving money on utility and fuel bills. This includes $1 billion to make affordable housing more energy-efficient.
  • Tax credits to accelerate US manufacturing of renewable energy equipment, clean technology, electric vehicle manufacture, and critical minerals processing
  • Tax credits to accelerate the transition to clean electricity and reduce transportation emissions.
  • Grants and tax credits to reduce emissions from manufacturing, including chemical, steel, and cement plants.
  • Methane emissions reduction program to reduce leaks from production and distribution of natural gas.
  • $60 billion in grants to improve environmental conditions in disadvantaged communities, including reducing air pollution and expanding clean transportation.
  • $27.6 billion in grants for climate-smart agriculture, fire-resistant forests, urban trees, and coastal habitat conservation and restoration. 

“The most immediate effect of the bill, energy experts said, will be to supercharge the growth of wind turbine, solar panel and electric vehicle production in the United States,” reported the New York Times on July 27.” The Senate is expected to act on the bill this week before leaving on summer recess. Because it’s introduced under rules applying to reconciliation bills, it can pass with a simple majority vote of 51 (which can include the Vice President).

Citing Genesis and its call to humans to be faithful stewards of Creation, the Episcopal House of Bishops made these points in its July 11 statement Expressing the Mind of the House On Climate and Our Vocation in Christ:

“Climate change and environmental degradation are manifestations of our turning away from God. The effects of this willful separation from God resonate across our collective lives: All areas of justice are either worsened or made better depending on the health of the planet. A changing climate and degraded environment worsen conflict, forces human migration, and causes food insecurity. These related crises increase the rate of violence, cause more natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and deepen the wounds of those already suffering from racism. People living in poverty are plunged further into poverty by the deteriorating condition of the planet.

“As people of faith, we are not without hope, but the sustainability of God’s creation demands our action. Confronting climate change and environmental degradation has never been more urgent. As members of The Episcopal Church, we are committed in baptism to resist evil, seek God’s will, treat all people with dignity, and strive for justice and peace. Living into these promises, we must face the climate crisis for the sake of love of God and neighbor:

“If we hope to treat all human beings with dignity, we must address climate change so droughts, floods, and extreme weather patterns don’t force people into exile and desperate, life-threatening migration.

“If we hope to build peace, we must address climate change so that competition for scarce resources does not drive further violence.

“If we hope to ensure that every child of God has enough to eat, we must address climate change so that our bountiful earth can continue to support and sustain food systems that nourish people and the soil.

“We are a people of hope. Where do we find the hope that sustains, that dispels fear, that gives us the courage to love and to persevere? We find hope in the power and reality of the Resurrection.”

Gun safety bills go to US and Ohio Senates

The US House of Representatives passed an assault weapon ban on Friday, July 29 by a vote of 219-213, including two Republicans. This follows the passage of a bipartisan gun safety bill by both houses of Congress in June, which was signed into law by President Biden.  The House’s assault weapons ban is not expected to survive in the Senate because of the filibuster, but that should not stop you from contacting Senators Brown and Portman with your views.

The newly-passed bipartisan federal gun safety law includes incentives for states to enact red flag laws, laying a foundation to support the Defend Our Children Act (SB 351) introduced by Ohio Sens. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati), who served for 27 years in the Cincinnati Police Department, and Tina Maharath (D- Canal Winchester).

The Ohio Senate bill (SB 351) has not yet been reported to committee, following a pattern of stalling gun safety bills in the Ohio Legislature. Please contact Senate Majority Leader Bob Huffman and your state Senator and Representative with your views on the bill. Find who to contact by filling in your address in the box “Who Represents Me” at this link.

Ohio SB 351 includes background checks for all firearm transfers, raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21, a red flag law to allow courts to temporarily take away firearms from people at risk of suicide or harming others, and a mandatory three-day waiting period for gun purchases. It prohibits negligent storage of firearms and provides tax credits for buying firearm storage units. The bill’s safe storage and minimum age provisions are endorsed by the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Senator Thomas’ website reports that 1,767 Ohioans died from firearms in 2021. He cites a Republican Senate poll showing that the overwhelming majority of gun-owning registered voters support the bipartisan gun reform framework, and a Fox News poll that 88% of Americans support universal background checks, 82% favor raising the minimum age to buy assault weapons to 21, and 81% favor red flag laws. Of respondents, 63% supported a ban on assault weapons.

“These laws can help prevent suicides, mass shootings and domestic violence gun deaths, and the just-passed Federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides $750 million in much-needed funding over the next five years to support crisis intervention services, including the implementation of state Red Flag laws,” says Kristine Woodworth, Ohio Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. ”The bill will also unlock a well-established existing funding stream to support the implementation of Red Flag laws.”

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team. Connect with her at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com