Article originally published by the Philadelphia Business Journal on August 2, 2022.
The July 27 agreement between Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on climate change legislation is an important step forward to address global warming. With Manchin on board, the Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate to pass this legislation, avoiding a Republican filibuster by adhering to reconciliation rules. It would be great if there was bipartisan unity on the issue of global warming.
In a March 2018 lawsuit against the oil industry for damages caused by global warming, Chevron acknowledged that climate change is real. Their attorney said, “[We] accept the consensus in the scientific communities on climate change. There’s no debate about climate science. It’s economic activity that creates the demand for energy, and that leads to emissions [of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases].”
The political will of both the Democrats and Republicans to do the right thing for the American people has been demonstrated in the past when Congress voted to remove lead from gasoline in 1970 and increase the fuel efficiency of cars in 1975.
I clearly remember the debates on both issues, serving at the time as a refinery process engineer. My fellow employees and I discussed the economic impact on our refinery and our company of both pieces of legislation. In retrospect, I think we would all agree removal of lead from gasoline and increasing fuel efficiency was the right thing to do.
In a strong demonstration of bipartisan unity, the Senate passed legislation to remove lead from gasoline by a vote of 73-0 while the House vote was 374-1. As the levels of lead in gasoline fell, the percentage of children 1-5 years of age with elevated lead levels fell.
The Senate passed legislation to increase automotive fuel efficiency by a vote of 58-40, while the House vote was 300-103.
Both pieces of legislation were passed in the face of bitter opposition at the time from vested interests—the lead and oil industries. We are very fortunate that these industries didn’t prevail in defeating the legislation.
In another example of bipartisan unity on a key issue, on July 28, the House passed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, previously passed by the Senate, to bolster chip manufacturing in the U.S. Twenty-four House Republicans broke ranks with their leadership and supported this bill. These Republicans viewed the bill as important to the competitiveness of America.
Notwithstanding the current political divide, Americans want to see more bipartisan leadership to address our country’s issues. It will position us for a better future.
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.