LEGISLATION

After the 2020 election, the 117th Congress was 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.

Founded in 2016, Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan United States House caucus whose members are committed to taking action in response to the risks of climate change. This group, made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, has introduced legislation to achieve a carbon tax. They have not, as of yet, succeeded in passing any 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. Whatever comes of it,  climate change has definitely shifted to the middle of the national conversation. Much has been written about the “Deal” including an early editorial by the New York Times on February 24, 2019.

Valuable to remember: In 2007 when California Democrat Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker, she created, and Ed Markey (then in the House) chaired, The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. In her first term as Speaker, Pelosi helped muscle through a major energy bill,  which then-President George W. Bush praised for “confronting global climate change.” When the Republicans retook control in 2011 they disbanded it.

As she remained Speaker, Pelosi re-established in February, 2019 another climate committee calling it the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Chaired by Kathy Castor, a seven-term representative from Tampa Bay, she appointed to that committee: Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), Donald McEachin (Va.), Ben Ray Lujan (NM), and Joe Neguse (Colo.). Its scope is limited: It can hold hearings and plan fact finding trips, but not compel testimony — a structure that has aggravated many progressives. It is specifically instructed “to investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis which will honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations.” Pelosi said the committee was not tasked specifically with crafting the progressives‘ “Green New Deal,” as Ocasio-Cortez had initially sought.

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House Democrats unveil ambitious climate package, steering toward a net-zero economy by 2050

Ambitious Package

House Democrats unveil ambitious climate package, steering toward a net-zero economy by 2050

By Steven Mufson and Dino Grandoni Photo by J scott Applewhite 06/30/2020
The nation’s automakers would manufacture only electric cars. Utilities would have to stop producing pollution linked to climate change. And the federal government would double its investment in mass transit.

Proposed bill would include large hydro, nuclear in California’s renewable portfolio standard

Proposed bill would include large hydro, nuclear in California’s renewable portfolio standard

By Kavya Balaraman 1/23/20
California Republicans on Tuesday introduced legislation to temporarily halt the requirements of the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program and redirect funds to ensure utilities improve their infrastructure and vegetation management programs.

The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it.

The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it.

By Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni Photo by C-Span 2/13/19
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…