There was hope among some climate activists in the U.S. that the federal stimulus to address Covid-19 might be the moment to both heal the economy and advance a long-overdue transition to clean energy. Whatever they’d envisioned, the $2 trillion bill agreed to by the Senate in the wee hours of Wednesday morning wasn’t it. As congressional leaders assembled the spending bill, the push for clean energy drew fierce opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and conservative critics, who accused Democrats of trying to exploit the urgent need for coronavirus relief to foist an environmental agenda on a wounded country.
“Some folks in Congress and in other parts of Washington, D.C. are suggesting this is a bunch of liberals angling for the Green New Deal, and these are coastal elites that just want to pad their investments in clean energy,” says Bob Keefe, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, or E2, a nonpartisan group of business leaders and investors. “It’s not.” Most people in the clean energy sector are “boot strap-and-jeans guys,” Keefe says. “These are everyday Americans who are struggling.”
Here’s where stimulus negotiations currently stand.