Reviewing Primary and Secondary Asks

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This training reviews the updated context for CCL's Summer 2024 Primary and Secondary Asks as well as guidance for lobby teams as they plan their summer meetings. This is a recommended training for any CCL volunteer planning on being a part of their group's lobby meeting. 

TOC and Guide Section
Summer 2024 Primary Asks

As this training page is updated, you can follow along with this training's slides at
Our two Primary Asks (Leave Behind) for all members of Congress are:

  • PROVE IT Act (S. 1863)
  • Clean Energy Permitting Reform
Summer 2024 Secondary Asks

For Summer 2024, there are two Secondary Asks (choose one or two) for your lobby meetings are:

  • Increased Technical Service Provider Access Act of 2023 (S.1400/ H.R.3036)
  • Seedlings for Sustainable Habitat Restoration Act of 2023 (S.1164/H.R.5015)

How We Choose Secondary Asks

We look for bills that are:

  • Bipartisan, achievable in the near term, complementary to/or related to policy priorities
  • Other considerations this time, greater focus - we learn & adapt; when we had many secondary asks, our impact was diluted; this is why we’ve narrowed it down to just 2
  • Farm bill - second biggest climate opportunity (other than permitting reform) - why TSP is so important
  • 2030 clean energy targets - offshore wind coming under threat due to rejections from several states; to hit these targets, we need offshore wind; also need to address coastal impacts; this is why RISEE is so important
  • Persistence - get these across finish line

TSP Access Act 

CCL lobbied on the TSP Access Act in June and we were able to get 27 new cosponsors in the House and Senate. We made great progress in getting this important bill in a prime position to be considered for inclusion in next year's Farm Bill. With Farm Bill negotiations continuing, we need to double-down on this bill, grow even more support to ensure it is included in a final farm bill package. 

Problem: a  shortage of  Technical Service Providers (TSPs),  is impacting the ability of agricultural producers to fully utilize current conservation and climate programs. 

TSPs help producers to access USDA conservation programs through one-on-one assistance. Critical to allow access to the $20 billion in conservation funding through the IRA.

  • Non-Federal Certifying Entities: USDA to establish a process to approve non-Federal certifying entities within 180 days of enactment. 
  • Streamlined Certification: USDA to establish a streamlined certification process for TSPs who hold appropriate specialty certifications (including certified crop advisors) within 180 days of enactment. This guarantees that applicants with other certifications aren’t burdened with duplicative training, but are still trained in the competencies needed to serve as a TSP.
  • Parity in Compensation: The bill ensures that TSPs—who are often paid using conservation program dollars—are paid the fair market rate for their services.

Bills supporting bipartisan climate action

CCL often identifies bipartisan bills that have been introduced that could be useful secondary asks. Our primary objective in promoting these bills is to encourage bipartisanship on climate solutions policymaking in Congress. The bills all have cosponsors of both parties, all are complementary to a strong carbon price, and all address policy issues that a carbon price does not. Descriptions of each bill are on the secondary asks page where you can click on the .pdf  file or blue hyperlinks for more information.

As we build momentum for bipartisan action on climate and develop relationships of trust with our members of Congress, we suggest keeping to topics of common ground. Rather than bring up the vinegar, talk about the honey.  We have learned through motivational interviewing techniques that preparing others for change involves helping them see change as something they create and meets their needs.

Also, know the secondary asks list is not exhaustive; if there is a bill your group would like to use as a secondary ask that is not on this list, please contact CCL’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Ben Pendergrass, at Use your best judgment when deciding whether you want to make one or more of these bills a secondary ask. If any of them are a source of conflict within your group, please pick a different secondary ask.

The value of secondary asks

After making the primary ask and subsequent discussion, it may make sense to make a secondary ask. Getting legislation passed is a complicated, coalition-building process in which lots of smaller steps must happen before we get a law. Many members of Congress may be willing to support other bills that fit into the broader picture of addressing the climate crisis and are complementary to a carbon price, and these could be stepping stones toward support for bringing the U.S. in line with the rest of the developed world.

You should always be clear that what you want is our primary ask. After making the primary ask and subsequent discussion, it may make sense to make a secondary ask. Getting legislation passed is a complicated, coalition-building process in which lots of smaller steps must happen before we get a law. 

A record of success

In December 2020, the U.S. House and Senate passed a massive omnibus package. The package includes the major provisions from three of CCL’s “secondary ask” bills from December Lobby Day: the BEST Act, the USE IT Act, and the Climate-Ready Fisheries Act. In July of 2021, the Senate passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act by a vote of 92-8 in a remarkable display of bipartisan support for climate action and was included in the Omnibus Package that passed in December 2022.  In September 2021, Congress agreed upon a bipartisan infrastructure package that includes provisions from CCL’s “supporting ask” bills used in June 2021, the Storing CO2 And Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act and the Hope for Homes Act supporting ask was wrapped into Inflation Reduction Act that was enacted in August 2022. The inclusion of these measures in both the larger omnibus packages shows that CCL’s volunteer lobbying has an impact. This is a powerful reminder of why CCL supports other bipartisan climate bills - because we can make a difference.

2024 Clean Energy Permitting Reform Updates

Over the past year there have been a number of Congressional and federal agency actions relevant to the clean energy permitting reform landscape. Let’s get up to speed on what’s happened in this policy area!

The Fiscal Responsibility Act

In May 2023, Congress passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act (a.k.a. the debt ceiling deal), which included a number of reforms to help federal agencies work on project permitting in a more efficient manner. For example, when multiple federal agencies are involved in the permitting of an energy project, it would have them designate a lead agency in charge, and all agencies would work together on a single environmental review document rather than each agency creating duplicative work. 

Read here for more details about permitting reform in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

DOE transmission permitting rule

Relatedly, the Department of Energy (DOE) published an electrical transmission line permitting rule in April 2024 that applies the requirements of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. It establishes the DOE as the lead agency that will coordinate with other federal agencies to permit transmission projects on federal lands, and requires that all of those agencies work on a single environmental document. 

Read here for more details about DOE’s transmission rule.

CEQ NEPA permitting rule

And just a few days later, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) finalized a rule to “modernize the federal environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).” This rule includes a number of important components:

  • Like the DOE’s transmission rule, it implements the permitting changes made in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, but for all projects with federal NEPA reviews
  • It tells federal agencies that they should consider climate change and environmental justice impacts in environmental reviews, and that they should do “meaningful public engagement” during the permitting process. Read CCL’s press release about this news.
  • It expands the application of categorical exclusions, which are the fastest type of permitting environmental reviews that are applied when there's good reason to be confident that a certain type of project won't have significant adverse impact. 

Read here for more details about CEQ’s permitting reform rule.

DOE categorical exclusion rule

On the same day and on the same subject, the DOE also issued a separate rule that adds a permitting categorical exclusion for certain energy storage systems and solar projects on disturbed lands, and for upgrading electrical transmission lines of any length. 

Read here for more information about DOE’s categorical exclusion rule.

DOE transmission corridors of national interest designations

In May 2024, the DOE also took a big step toward designating certain areas as National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETCs). This is an outcome of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill, which clarified that the DOE can determine that it’s in America’s national interest to quickly build electrical transmission lines in certain corridors in order to expedite the permitting process in these designated areas. 

Read here for more information about DOE’s NIETC designations.

FERC orders on transmission permitting, planning, and cost allocation

In May 2024, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued two new rules. The first (called Order 1977) is related to NIETCs as well. It states that FERC has the authority to issue permits to construct transmission lines in NIETCs if a state has denied a siting application, as was affirmed by the bipartisan infrastructure bill. It also requires that transmission project developers create community and tribal engagement plans.

FERC’s second new rule (called Order 1920) requires electrical transmission providers to take several important steps to improve regional transmission capabilities. These include long-term proactive planning for the power grid’s needs over the next 20 years, accounting for the transmission project cost benefits of factors like improved grid reliability and efficiency, allocating the costs of these projects proportional to the expected benefits of the new transmission capacity, and considering cost-effective alternative technologies like replacing existing power lines with more advanced materials.

Read here for more information about FERC’s transmission rules.

EPA power plant rules

In April 2024 the Environmental Protection Agency also finalized climate pollution rules for fossil fuel power plants. The rules will require that many existing coal and new natural gas power plants implement carbon capture and storage technology, or take other steps to reduce their climate pollution by about 90%. Although this rule isn’t directly related to permitting reform, it does tip the financial scales even further toward cheap and clean sources of energy, which means that a faster permitting process will benefit technologies like solar and wind power even more than is already the case.

Read here for more information about EPA’s power plant rules.

We still need Congress to pass clean energy permitting reform

While this is quite a lot of good progress towards permitting and building clean energy infrastructure faster, there’s still much more to do. For example, a bipartisan permitting reform package could include legislation like the BIG WIRES Act to increase America’s electrical transmission capacity, and specific reforms to expedite the permitting process for other clean technologies like geothermal, hydroelectric, and nuclear power. 

Press play to start the video (44m 43s)
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Skip ahead to the following section(s):
  • (0:00) Intro & Agenda
  • (3:38) Primary Ask: PROVE IT Act
  • (15:11) Primary Ask: Clean Energy Permitting Reform
  • (29:06) Secondary Asks
  • (37:07) Leaders Letter and Final Thoughts
  • Q&A Discussion (
  • Ben Pendergrass
  • Jenn Tyler
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Press play to start the audio (44m 43s)
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Audio Outline
Skip ahead to the following section(s):
  • (0:00) Intro & Agenda
  • (3:38) Primary Ask: PROVE IT Act
  • (15:11) Primary Ask: Clean Energy Permitting Reform
  • (29:06) Secondary Asks
  • (37:07) Leaders Letter and Final Thoughts
  • Q&A Discussion (
  • Ben Pendergrass
  • Jenn Tyler
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Training Resources

To prepare yourself, research the full suite of resources for planning a meeting with a member of Congress.