Climate Caucus sends letter to leadership urging cooperation on permitting reform
By Flannery Winchester
Last week, 26 members of the House Climate Solutions Caucus sent a letter to House leadership urging bipartisan climate cooperation.
Addressed to newly elected Speaker Johnson and to Minority Leader Jefferies, the letter opens by saying, “We write to express our interest in working with you to advance bipartisan climate policies during the 118th Congress.”
The letter specifically highlights permitting reform as an area of opportunity. “We believe that continued action on permitting reform, including addressing the constraints to expanding energy transmission, is necessary to support the United States’ energy needs, while also decreasing costs, reducing emissions, and protecting our environment for generations to come,” the letter reads.
The letter ends, “As Members of the Climate Solutions Caucus, we stand ready to work with you on permitting reform and other issues to promote the long-term success, health, and safety of our nation and planet.”
Get to know the signatories
In the spirit of this bipartisan caucus, the 26 members who signed the letter are 13 Republicans and 13 Democrats. All the signatories are listed in a press release from caucus itself.
Some of these lawmakers may be familiar to you from other times CCL has crossed paths with them, including:
- Energy Innovation Act lead sponsor Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24)
- BIG WIRES Act lead sponsor Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-50)
- Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC-01) and Rep. Young Kim (R-CA-40), both of whom spoke at CCL’s 2022 Conservative Conference
- Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI-01), whose warm relationship with local CCL youth began during his early days in Congress
- Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), who invited CCL volunteer Mike Kelly as his guest at the 2020 State of the Union
Not only are these members joining together across the aisle to send this important message, but they are connecting across geographies. The signatories come from 15 different states: California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, and Washington.
An important message
“A significant number of the Climate Solutions Caucus is coming together to say action on climate is urgent and the best way forward is bipartisan cooperation,” says Ben Pendergrass, CCL’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “That’s an important message.”
Not only that, but this letter “is the first statement that includes Republicans saying any reform package must address transmission.” Before now, the issue of transmission was cast as a Democratic issue, so the letter represents concrete evidence of growing common ground.
“We believe this letter and this group of members of Congress will help move the conversation forward on permitting reform,” Ben says.
CCL efforts make an impact
As citizen lobbyists, our volunteers are always encouraging lawmakers to take the next step toward meaningful climate action. In recent months, CCL liaisons who work with representatives on the Climate Solutions Caucus have reached out to encourage them to sign on. These efforts were directly responsible for some of the members of Congress joining the letter.
More broadly, our volunteers just wrapped up a round of more than 350 lobby meetings, which focused on the BIG WIRES Act as their primary ask, dealing with energy transmission. This month alone, we’ve placed 2,149 calls to congressional offices about this legislation, indicating that there is strong appetite for action on transmission.
Our volunteers’ efforts are supported and amplified by staff efforts, as well. In this case, CCL staff delivered a briefing about permitting reform to House Climate Solutions Caucus members’ staffers. Dana Nuccitelli, CCL Research Coordinator, presented the main goals to be achieved through clean energy permitting reform, individual provisions that could advance those goals, and some bills and proposals that have included those provisions.
Dana’s briefing made it clear to Climate Solutions Caucus staffers that electrical transmission lines are a key climate solution, allowing us to connect more clean affordable electricity to the grid while improving energy security and avoiding power blackouts. But the permitting process for big, important interstate transmission projects often takes well over a decade and needs updating.
Dana’s informative briefing brought several more offices on board — after his talk, they reached out to the Climate Solutions Caucus co-chairs to add their names to the bipartisan letter.
We’re proud of the role CCL has played in helping foster bipartisan engagement in this area. We appreciate the Climate Solutions Caucus co-chairs, Rep. Andrew Garbarino and Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, for being so proactive on this issue. And we’re thrilled to see a bipartisan group of lawmakers sending such a clear message to House leadership about the opportunities for climate action.