The House Moves to Avert a Shutdown

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Senator Kamala Harris visited a farmers market in Flint, Mich., yesterday.


When it comes to climate change, Biden has been eager to play up the contrasts between himself and Trump, who has systematically rolled back environmental regulations.

But the Democratic presidential nominee is facing new pressure from the left to confront environmental issues more aggressively: Last week, as Lisa Friedman and Thomas Kaplan report in a new article, more than 60 wealthy donors asked Biden to commit to a moratorium on all new coal, oil and natural gas development — and to reject advisers with ties to fossil fuel companies.

We talked to Lisa, a reporter on the Climate desk, about the latest effort to push Biden leftward on climate issues.

When Biden released his climate plan this summer, activists roundly praised it as a bold proposal. And his recent speech amid the wildfires in the West drew kudos from many environmentalists. But now there’s an appetite for him to make more commitments. How come?

It’s true — Biden’s climate plan drew praise from almost all parts of the environmentalist community, as did his speech linking the wildfires out West to climate change and excoriating Trump’s climate denial.

Now activists and donors alike are pushing him on the issue of personnel, urging him to commit to advisers — and potentially a cabinet — free of fossil fuel influences.

I think the reason we’re seeing that push now is because this is when the more progressive wing of the party feels it has some leverage, and it wants to keep the pressure on Biden to ensure that he takes aggressive action on climate change if he wins in November.

To what degree has Biden already purged his campaign of oil- and gas-industry veterans?

To my knowledge there are no oil- and gas-industry veterans at all serving on the Biden campaign in the climate policy arena. But there are some people volunteering and informally advising the campaign who have served on the boards of energy companies, like former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, which is something that progressives have raised as a concern.

If the debate over whether to ban hydraulic fracking has a geographic epicenter, it’s in Pennsylvania, where labor leaders support continuing the practice — and where Biden is fighting hard to win back a state that Trump took in 2016. What is the political calculus on this issue, and how much of a deal breaker is it for some environmental groups and left-wing voters?

In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point, so this state is critically important.

Biden has been really threading a needle on this issue for just that reason. He has not called for a national ban on fracking, as climate activists have urged him to, but he has pledged a ban on new oil and gas permits on federal lands and waters.

Biden hasn’t budged on this, despite overwhelming pressure from the left, and I wouldn’t expect him to now. Environmental groups at this point appear disappointed but resigned, and I haven’t heard of any significant organization that is pulling its support because of his position on this.

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