Legislation

LEGISLATION

In February 2019, as 100 Democratic freshmen entered the House, the “Green New Deal”, a non-binding proposal to fight climate change (originally promoted by the Sunrise Movement — a coalition of young people), was introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. Much has been written about the “Deal” including an early editorial by the New York Times . It did not pass but climate moved to center stage.

After the 2020 election, President Biden and the 117th Congress were sworn in. The House remained in Democratic control (222-211)–with two seats vacant (in Louisiana’s 5th district and New York’s 22nd district). Control of the Senate moved to the Democrats (50-50 with the power to cast the tie breaking vote in the hands of Vice-President Kamala Harris) in a run-off election in Georgia on January 5, 2021 when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock won their Senate races.

In 2021 the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was passed providing historic resources for upgrading the power grid, improving public transit and investing in zero-emission transit and school buses, installing a nationwide EV charging network, cleaning up legacy pollution, replacing lead pipes and delivering clean water. It also helps communities safeguard against extreme weather events, catastrophic wildfires, and other climate-related disasters.

After the 2022 election, the 118th Congress was sworn in. The House flipped back into Republic control (222-212 with one vacancy). Control of the Senate stayed in the hands of the Democrats (50-50) with the power to cast the tie-breaking vote  remaining in the hands of Vice-President Kamala Harris. 

A big win for climate legislation came when the Biden administration passed the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, to date the most significant climate legislation in U.S. history. It offers funding, programs, and incentives to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and will likely drive significant deployment of new clean electricity resources. 

In 2023 on the heels of the Inflation Reduction Act, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) re-introduced their landmark proposal entitled the “Green New Deal.” The Green New Deal proposes to tackle the climate crisis with a 10-year mobilization that puts millions of Americans to work in good-paying, union jobs. Similar to FDR’s New Deal, these jobs would be focused on strengthening the nation’s public infrastructure as well as tackling pollution and climate damage. This has yet to pass.

Founded in 2016, the Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan United States caucus in the House of Representatives and the Senate whose members are committed to taking action in response to the risks of climate change. This group speaks out and votes as a bloc about climate change issues. This group, made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, has introduced legislation to achieve a carbon tax, but some members have not always stayed committed to their climate goals. They have not, as of yet, succeeded in passing any legislation.

CURRENT NEWS

Why Blue States Matter

By Bill McKibben 04/06/24
First of all, immense thanks to all who wrote with kinds words of congratulation about my new grandchild. I confess, it does seem unlikely that with 8 billion people on the planet I would personally…
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Biden Builds a Domestic Green Army

By The Editorial Board 04/02/24
Who says Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has no influence? Her vision to mobilize a government Climate Corps to promote green politics is becoming a reality. President Biden wants to shrink the real Army, but his budget…
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How heavy industries contribute to climate change and what can be done to cut emissions

By William Brangham and Shoshana Dubnow 03/29/24
Electricity and transportation each contribute about a quarter of America’s carbon emissions. Thanks to the growth of renewable energy and electric cars, those sectors are starting to get cleaner. Heavy industry is also a major…
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Whitehouse Bill Would Tighten, Clarify Process of Approving Offshore Wind Projects

By Mary Lhowe 01/10/24
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island has released an early draft of a proposed bill that would streamline the process of proposing, permitting, and building offshore wind projects, as well as moving the electricity…
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House Speaker Mike Johnson’s First Big Bill Cuts Biden’s Climate Change Funding

By Ari Natter 10/27/23
The first major legislation House Republicans passed under newly installed Speaker Mike Johnson would cut billions of dollars in consumer rebates for energy efficiency upgrades included in President Joe Biden’s signature climate law...
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New House Speaker Champions Fossil Fuels and Dismisses Climate Concerns

By Lisa Friedman 10/26/23
Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the newly elected House speaker, has questioned climate science, opposed clean energy and received more campaign contributions from oil and gas companies than from any other industry last year.
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Update needed for 1872 mining law to boost clean energy, report says

By Timothy Puko 09/12/23
Because of a 151-year-old U.S. mining law, miners hold claims on federal land for years at little cost, work in secret and frequently submit incomplete plans to environmental regulators, according to a new report Tuesday…
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Young environmental activists prevail in first-of-its-kind climate change trial in Montana

By Amy Beth Hanson and Matthew Brown 08/15/23
Young environmental activists scored what experts described as a ground-breaking legal victory Monday when a Montana judge said state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by allowing fossil fuel…
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The U.S. Government Will Pay to Remove Carbon from Atmosphere

By Robinson Meyer 08/04/23
The federal government is preparing to pay companies to remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, launching a first-of-its-kind program that could transform the market for the nascent climate technology, according to people familiar with…
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A Republican 2024 Climate Strategy: More Drilling, Less Clean Energy

By Lisa Friedman 08/04/23
During a summer of scorching heat that has broken records and forced Americans to confront the reality of climate change, conservatives are laying the groundwork for future Republican administration that would dismantle efforts to slow…
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Corporate Cash Derails Train Safety Bill

By Matthew Cunningham-Cook and Julia Rock 08/03/23
The company that manufactured the toxic chemicals that were released and incinerated in the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment this winter gave $2 million to the primary Senate GOP super PAC as…
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America is heavily reliant on Russia for nuclear fuel. Congress might change that.

By Maxine Joselow 08/03/23
Nearly a year-and-a-half after Russia launched a brutal invasion of Ukraine, Congress appears poised to reduce America’s reliance on Moscow for uranium, the main fuel used by nuclear power plants.
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KEY RESOURCES

Inflation Reduction Act Methane Emissions Charge: In Brief

09/01/22
On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed H.R. 5376 (P.L. 117-169), a budget reconciliation measure commonly referred to as the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” (IRA). Among other provisions, IRA includes a charge on methane…

Critical Minerals in Electric Vehicle Batteries

08/29/22
Expected growth of electric vehicle (EV) sales has led to concern about securing mineral inputs used in EV batteries. Various countries and companies have stated policies to accelerate the adoption of EVs in the transportation…

Environmental Justice (EJ) Provisions of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act

08/22/22
This table includes provisions with the potential to provide federal benefits to communities with EJ concerns. Direct benefits, where the statute requires benefits to be implemented in or directed towards low-income, tribal, or overburdened communities,…

Modeling The Inflation Reduction Act Using The Energy Policy Simulator

08/18/22
On July 27, 2022, the United States Senate released legislative text for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes $369 billion in funding for climate and clean energy provisions. These emissions-reducing provisions run the gamut…

U.S. Climate Change Policy

10/28/21
The greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere trap radiant energy, warming earth’s surface and oceans. Scientific assessments conclude that GHGs very likely have been the main driver of warming of the earth’s lower atmosphere since…

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Scenarios: Background, Issues, and Policy Relevance

06/08/21
Projecting future climate change, and what drives it, is difficult,with many uncertainties. Computer models, however, can be useful tools for exploring the long-term implications of climate change and evaluating policy options. For example, models can…

Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases: Issues for Congress

06/08/21
On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment andRestoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” Itcontains directives to update the social cost of greenhouse gases (SC-GHG),…

Aji P. v. State of Washington

02/15/21
Our Children’s Trust has supported youth plaintiffs in Washington since 2011, most recently in the youth-led constitutional climate case, Aji P. v. State of Washington. Thirteen youth plaintiffs from across the state of Washington filed…

Tracking the future of US recycling policy in Congress

10/26/20
Spurred by market challenges, the Hill has seen a historic influx of big bills. Keep up on all the latest developments with our legislative tracker.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

02/26/20
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.

House Committee on Energy & Commerce – Accomplishments

01/29/20
The Energy and Commerce Committee is working to strengthen the economy, reduce costs for consumers, combat climate change and conduct robust oversight of the Trump Administration. Here is a look at some of the action the…

Carbon Pricing as a Solution to Climate Change

02/14/20
FCNL believes that carbon pricing is one of many essential tools that Congress should use to address climate change and shift towards a clean energy economy. While we have not endorsed any particular bill at…

Legislation Tracker

09/04/19
Keep track of bills and resolutions as they move through the House and/or the Senate on their way to passage as law.

Climate Change Laws of the World

07/24/19
Search the databases by selecting the legislation or the litigation search and applying your search criteria. You can also click here to access laws and policies on our interactive map.

MORE NEWS

Connecticut House passes bill mandating education of human-induced climate change

By Morgan Gstalter   05/29/19  
The Connecticut House on Tuesday passed a bill to make Connecticut the first state to mandate the teaching of human-induced climate change.
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Scrap Collector: Vermont passes nation’s ‘toughest’ plastics bill yet

By Rina Li   05/24/19  
Heads up, plastic watchers: Vermont legislators have passed what is being credited as the nation's "toughest bill yet" with regard to single-use plastics regulation. S.113, which was sent to Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday, would…
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Schumer backs aggressive New York climate change bill

By Marie J. French   05/22/19  
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told state lawmakers he supports an ambitious measure targeting zero emissions in New York by 2050 and requiring investment in low-income and minority communities.
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Nevada passes bill for 50% renewables by 2030, 100% carbon free by 2050

By Catherine Morehouse   04/22/19  
Nevada on Friday passed a bill that would require the state to generate 50% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030 and aim for 100% carbon-free resources by 2050.
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A closer look at Washington’s superb new 100% clean electricity bill

By David Roberts   04/18/19  
The bill contains groundbreaking changes to the way the state’s utilities do business.
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Maryland passes major renewable energy bill

By Jamie DeMarco   04/11/19  
Maryland passes major renewable energy bill By Jamie DeMarco Over the past 15 years, solar in Maryland has slowly but steadily grown, and now provides about 1.9% of the state’s electricity. However, the time for…
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Lujan Grisham signs landmark clean energy bill

By Andrew Oxford   03/22/19  
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed sweeping energy legislation on Friday that calls for New Mexico’s major electric utilities to get 100 percent of their power from carbon emission-free sources by 2045.
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Hawaii bills push 1st state ban on plastics in restaurants

By Audrey McAvoy   03/19/19  
Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.
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Maine renews net metering as lawmakers prep new clean energy, utility reform bills

By Catherine Morehouse   03/18/19  
Maine lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill to eliminate gross metering in the state and reestablish net metering for solar customers, sending it to Gov. Janet Mills, D, for likely signature.
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Climate bills call for Maine to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990 levels

By Kevin Miller   03/13/19  
Maine scientists, fishermen and environmentalists urged lawmakers Wednesday to embrace a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent and begin work on a new “action plan” to address climate change.
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Colorado Senate gives final approval to oil and gas reform bill

By Nic Garcia   03/13/19  
The Colorado State Senate on Wednesday gave its final approval along party lines to a bill that will dramatically reform the way oil and gas businesses are regulated. The legislation, Senate Bill 181, is one…
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States are introducing bills that could prevent teachers from advocating for climate change

By Kelley Czajka   02/18/19  
Several states have recently introduced bills that could interfere with the teaching of scientifically founded theories on climate change in public school science curricula. A bill in South Dakota would require each school board to…
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The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it.

By Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni   02/13/19  
The Senate on Tuesday passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments…
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Virginia Wilderness Expansion Would Link Ecologically Vital Areas

By John Gilroy   11/10/17  
Proposal seeks to protect 5,500 acres of prime wildlife habitat, streams, and trails.
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Florida legislature advances third attempt at curbside recycling contamination bill

By Katie Pyzyk   01/30/20  
Last week, the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill (HB 73) listing contamination-related details that must be included in recycling contracts between municipalities and haulers or MRFs. Haulers would not be required to transport contaminated materials…
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Crucial Bill that Tackles Food Waste Included in the New York State Budget

04/01/19  
New York lawmakers took a bold step to reduce food waste with the inclusion of the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act in the state’s 2020 budget.
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