Broad New Coalition Aims to Keep Climate Bill on the Radar This Fall
With the resignation of Van Jones over the weekend, environmental advocates lost their biggest champion in the White House. But on Tuesday those advocates worked to present a unified front as they unveiled a major coalition aimed at getting a climate and energy bill passed this year.
The new 63-member coalition unveiled today aims to combat the attacks against climate action and keep the issue atop the agenda this fall, with members from environmental, faith, labor, and minority groups. It includes big green groups, like Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Defense Fund, along with unions like the United Steelworkers and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Also on board: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Truman National Security Project, VoteVets, American Hunters and Shooters; Catholics United; Union for Reform Judaism.
The coalition, under the name “Clean Energy Works,” has a hub in Washington, D.C., with paid staffers, as well as organizers on the ground in 28 states whose senators are seen as key swing votes on climate – many of them Midwestern, industrial, and coal states. They’ve already unveiled a Web campaign that compares members of Congress who opposed climate action to cavemen.
Coalition member Environmental Defense Fund also rolled out new national ads last week in the states where the National Association of Manufacturers has been running anti-climate-bill ads.The coalition plans to unveil more ads later this week, and veterans groups involved in the coalition will be in Washington as part of their Operation Free effort to create a national security push for climate action.
“This is the largest, broadest effort to date by quite a bit,” said coalition spokesperson Josh Dorner, who comes to the coalition from Sierra Club. Dorner would not give a dollar figure on what groups are putting into the effort, but said they are “bringing significant resources to bear.”
“Our opponents will vastly outspend us regardless,” he said.
The coalition’s entry comes on the day that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was supposed to introduce the climate legislation she’s coauthoring with John Kerry (D-Mass.). The two announced last week, however, that they are postponing introduction of the bill until “later in September.” Dorner classified it as an “insignificant delay in terms of the big picture.” But it will mean that climate legislation won’t come before the Senate until late fall, likely after the health care debate reaches a conclusion.
While the coalition’s goal is to get a bill passed this year, their greatest challenge is likely to be keeping the issue on the national radar over the next weeks. That and keeping the coalition together when and if a bill is actually presented, as the groups represent a broad range of policy perspectives.
“It will be come more complex when the bills start to take shape. There is a spectrum of opinions in the groups,” said Gillian Caldwell, campaign director at 1Sky, a member of the coalition. “For now it’s about trying to reclaim the debate and keep momentum going, as it’s pretty stalled right now.”