LEGISLATION

LEGISLATION

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.

CREDIT: STATISTA

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Building with Clean Energy

01/24/22
At the June 21 Acton, MA Town Meeting, the Building with Clean Energy warrant articles were approved by voters, representing a first step toward requiring that new construction and major (“gut”) renovation projects use clean…

Air pollution makes it harder for bees to sniff out flowers, study finds

01/24/22
Air pollution may be making it harder for bees and other insects to follow the scent of flowers, reducing pollination by as much as a third, new research suggests.

People who survive multiple disasters have worse mental health

01/24/22
Mental resiliency could be harder to rebuild than a house or business in places that have experienced multiple disasters, study suggests.

An urgent effort is underway to save Florida’s manatees

01/24/22
Florida is scrambling to prevent another horrific year of starvation deaths among the beloved mammals

The simplest way to sell more electric cars in America

01/24/22
Decades-old laws that protect car dealers are keeping the U.S. stuck in the gas-powered past.

‘The CDC alone can’t fix this’: Walensky calls for overhaul of U.S. public health system

01/24/22
If the pandemic is to turn endemic — a situation top Biden health officials say they could more easily control — the U.S. needs to overhaul the nation’s public health workforce, she said.

World’s biggest offshore wind developers eyeing Louisiana for Gulf’s first turbines

01/24/22
The Texas coast may have better winds for offshore wind development, but it’s Louisiana’s political winds that are drawing the interest of the industry’s two biggest players.

Should you buy carbon offsets for your air travel?

01/24/22
More than a third of Americans would pay extra to offset their flights’ CO2 emissions, a new National Geographic survey finds.

How does direct air capture work? An inventor of the carbon removal tech explains

01/24/22
Carbon-removal technology is still in its nascent stages, but it could be crucial to avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

Toxic PCBs festered at this public school for eight years as students and teachers grew sicker

01/24/22
The EPA and others warned about potential contamination as far back as 2014. But Washington state law does not require schools or health departments to act on those findings.

Phthalates may affect important pregnancy hormone

01/24/22
Rutgers scientists say exposure to the chemicals, found in plastics, nail polish and fast food, may disrupt the hormone that signals when to give birth.

Historically excluded from Colorado River policy, tribes want a say in how the dwindling resource is used

01/24/22
Today, 15 percent of Southern Utes living on the reservation in southwest Colorado don’t have running water in their homes at all.

Enbridge uses scoring system to track Indigenous opposition

01/24/22
When the oil company Enbridge sought to build its Line 3 pipeline through northern Minnesota, it faced opposition from Indigenous-led water protectors. The company moved to coordinate with local police as they cracked down on…

MORE NEWS

Finding the Will to Stave Off a Darker Future

By The Editorial Board  Photo: Alyssa Schukar   08/14/21  
In June 1988 a NASA scientist, Dr. James Hansen, appeared on a very hot day in Washington and told a group of powerful senators that a grim future lay ahead. Carbon emissions, he said, had…

In victory for Biden, U.S. Senate OKs $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill

By Jacob Fischler   08/10/21  
North Carolina’s Tillis and Burr defy Trump by helping to craft compromise legislation The U.S. Senate passed 69-30 on Tuesday a sweeping bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, a milestone for one of President Joe Biden’s…

What’s in the $1 trillion infrastructure package?

By Chris Cameron  Photo: Joel Angel Juarez   08/10/21  
The expansive $1 trillion infrastructure bill that the Senate passed on Tuesday — a 2,702-page bipartisan deal that is the product of months of negotiating and years of pent-up ambitions to repair the nation’s crumbling…

Democrats seize on ‘alarm bell’ climate report in spending plan push

By Rachel Frazin  Photo: Greg Nash   08/09/21  
Environmentalists and their allies on Capitol Hill are seizing on a new United Nations (U.N.) report on greenhouse gas emissions to argue that the $3.5 trillion spending plan from Democrats unveiled Monday is vital to…

Let down by infrastructure bill, climate hawks eye reconciliation

By Benjamin J. Hulac and Joseph Morton  photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call   08/04/21  
With significantly less funding for climate programs than the White House requested in the Senate’s nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, climate advocates are pinning their hopes on a budget reconciliation bill likely to pass…

Democrats Seek $500 Billion in Climate Damages From Big Polluting Companies

By Lisa Friedman  Photo: Julie Dermansky   08/04/21  
Democrats in Congress want to tax Exxon, Chevron and a handful of other major oil and gas companies, saying the biggest climate polluters should pay for the floods, wildfires and other disasters that scientists have…

The Infrastructure Deal Is Not Not a Climate Bill

By Robinson Meyer  Photo: George Rose / Getty   08/04/21  
Last week, Senate negotiators released the text of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal. For the first time since the deal was announced in June, we can actually see what’s in it.

Climate in the infrastructure bill: A substantial investment in resilience

By Christopher Flavelle  Photo: Nic Coury   08/02/21  
As the United States staggers through another year of devastating wildfires, drought, storms and other calamities, the infrastructure bill before Congress would pour major resources into a response. The measure agreed to over the weekend…

The Easy Climate-Change Win that Rashida Tlaib Backs But Joe Biden Fails to Seize

By Julia Rock   08/02/21  
The Biden administration has signaled its commitment to tackling the financial risks posed by climate change through executive orders and key appointments. But advocates say the president is missing an easy opportunity for big climate…

Democrats swear to take action on climate change; Republicans worry about negative impact

By Basil John   07/29/21  
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says Democrats are ready to take action on climate change. “We are surrounded by evidence of the climate crisis,” Schumer said. Without action, Schumer warns global warming will be…

Democrats Call Infrastructure Bill a Down Payment on Climate

By Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman  Photo: Philip Cheung   07/28/21  
The $1 trillion infrastructure deal reached by a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday would make a significant down payment on President Biden’s ambitious environmental agenda, including the first federal expenditure on electric vehicle charging…

Collaborative Ocean-based Solutions to Climate Change — Together We Can

By Rob Moir   07/25/21  
o meet the ravages of climate change, Congress has introduced the Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act (HR.8632). The ocean covers nearly three-quarters of the planet. Nothing has more of an impact on the climate than…

U.S. House passes PFAS bill regulating ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

By Ariana Figueroa  Photo: Cavan Images/Getty   07/22/21  
The U.S. House Wednesday passed bipartisan legislation that would regulate toxic chemicals found in drinking water, as well as designate two types of those toxic chemicals as hazardous substances that would spark federal cleanup standards.…

Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps

By Rachel Frazin   07/20/21  
A group of more than 80 House and Senate Democrats on Tuesday laid out their vision for a climate jobs program called the Civilian Climate Corps that is expected to be part of a sweeping…

Federal Action Needed to Address Disastrous Drought, Wildfires, and Ecosystem Degradation in the West

By Caitlyn Wall  Photo: Douglas DeFelice/Audubon   07/06/21  
The western half of the United States is facing multiple, connected crises: long-term megadrought, dangerous heat waves, and the onset of a disastrous fire season. Water levels are at historic lows, threatening communities, farmers, birds…

Climate Risks Bill Could Spark Shift to Truly Green Economy

By Robin Lloyd  Photo by Spencer Platt   04/14/21  
Large financial institutions and major business sectors have long ignored, underestimated or even hid some of the major risks they face from climate change. These actions can put investments and economic stability at risk.

Budgetary Effects of Climate Change and of Potential Legislative Responses to It

04/04/21  
In this report, the Congressional Budget Office outlines the primary channels by which climate change and policies intended to mitigate or adapt to it affect the federal budget.

Massachusetts delegation reintroduces legislation to improve evacuation routes

02/19/21  
U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, along with U.S. Rep. Bill Keating—all of Massachusetts—this week reintroduced the Enhancing the Strength and Capacity of America’s Primary Evacuation Routes (ESCAPE) Act.  The legislation dedicates $1 billion of federal…

Debunking the myth of legislative gridlock

By Jeb Barnes   02/18/21  
So much for gridlock. President Joe Biden’s US$1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan is moving steadily through a series of crucial votes in the House and Senate. Its progress toward passage is part of a process…
PBS

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez seek climate emergency declaration

By Matthew Daly   02/04/21  
With Democrats in charge of Congress and the White House, progressive lawmakers including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are pushing the Biden administration to act ever more aggressively on climate change.

Ins and outs of Congressional Review Act and climate change rules

By Jan Ellen Spiege   01/19/21  
The obstacles the Trump administration has placed on environmental rulemaking and, by extension, on stemming climate change have been well-documented by organizations from mainstream media outlets to multiple academic institutions.

Climate Change Legislation Included in Coronavirus Relief Deal

By Coral Davenport   12/21/20  
In the waning days of the 116th Congress, lawmakers have authorized $35 billion in spending on wind, solar and other clean power sources while curtailing the use of a potent planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners…

Three state legislative battles could swing zero-carbon energy plans

By Jeffrey Tomich, Arianna Skibell and Edward Klump  Photo: Steve Mellon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP   11/03/20  
Voters could flip legislatures in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, potentially opening the door to more aggressive climate policy.

Climate policy faces a tough road through Congress regardless of electoral outcomes

By Matthew Bandyk  Photo illustration: Danielle Ternes, Utility Dive   10/26/20  
Ever since the 2009 Waxman-Markey bill — an attempt to create a national cap-and-trade emissions plan — passed in the House but hit a wall in the Senate, the prospects of both houses of Congress…

House approves bipartisan conservation package

By Michael Doyle   10/01/20  
The House this afternoon gave final approval to a package of conservation measures, showing that the art of the modest green deal still endures in a bitterly divided Congress.

Virginia enacts Clean Economy Act – Renewable Energy Standards and Carbon Free Future Achievable

By Duane Morris   08/20/20  
On August 17, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (the “VCE Act”), which establishes mandatory energy efficiency standards and provides a pathway for new investments in solar, onshore wind, offshore wind,…

Clean Economy Act: Virginia takes historic steps toward clean energy future

08/17/20  
Gov. Ralph Northam today celebrated Virginia’s progress on clean energy by ceremonially signing historic legislation that accelerates the Commonwealth’s transition to a carbon-free future.

Trump Signs Landmark Land Conservation Bill

By Annie Karni  Photo: Doug Mills, The New York Times   08/04/20  
The bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act guarantees funding for federal land use efforts. The president claimed credit for Republicans.

Let’s Hire Laid-Off Oil and Gas Workers to Fight Climate Change

By Michael R. Bloomberg  Photo by Chris Goodney   08/03/20  
This turmoil has hurt oil and gas workers — some 100,000 have been laid off this year alone — and communities that depend on fossil fuel extraction are suffering. The bankruptcies have also left scars…

Kamala Harris Introduces Comprehensive Environmental Justice Bill in Senate

By Yvette Cabrera  Photo: Kaster-Pool / Getty Images   07/31/20  
By Yvette Cabrera This story was originally published on Grist on July 30, 2020 Fifteen years ago, Kamala Harris — San Francisco's District Attorney at the time — created an environmental justice unit in her…

What are they thinking? Congress and the Vermont Legislature Look to Enact New Climate Legislation

By Joel Stronberg   07/15/20  
In this episode of Zero Net Fifty, Jennifer Delony and Joel Stronberg look at new climate proposals currently being considered by Congress and lawmakers in Vermont. In Vermont, a new policy for action on global…

America’s great outdoors is showing its age. Congress is proposing a facelift.

By Dino Grandoni  Photo by Prisma Bildagentur, Universal Images Group, Getty Images   07/14/20  
A bill that would provide billions of dollars to the National Park Service, Forest Service and Land and Water Conservation Fund has been called one of the most important environmental proposals in decades.

The law that could make climate change illegal

By Jocelyn Timperley   07/08/20  
The short-term cycles of government can be a real problem for climate change. Even if climate goals are laid down in law, there can often be few concrete measures to stop a succession of governments…

A Hopeful House Climate Plan Has a Big Hole

By Ellen R. Wald   07/07/20  
The plan sets forth standards for energy’s transition in the next decade and beyond, and in doing so, takes a crucial step forward in the discussion by acknowledging that there are realistic limits on the…

Federal Agency Takes Charge of Voluntary Carbon Credit Markets

By Brice Oates  Photo by Lance Cheung   07/07/20  
A bipartisan bill seeks to address climate change by placing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a leadership role over voluntary carbon credit markets. While proponents tout the benefits of voluntary conservation practices,…

Climate Change Can (And Does) Negatively Impact Pregnant Moms And Babies

by Sa'iyda Shabazz  Photo by Dann Tardif   07/07/20  
Climate change affects all aspects of our lives, whether we realize it or not. It permeates every facet of the Earth, which means it’s directly affecting us in our daily lives. A new review of…

Think Covid-19 Disrupted the Food Chain? Wait and See What Climate Change Will Do

By Georgina Gustin  Photo by Joe Raedle   07/07/20  
The pandemic disrupted global supply chains, induced panic buying and cleared supermarket shelves. It left perfectly edible produce rotting in fields, and left farmers no choice but to gas, shoot and bury their livestock because…

Mailbag: Orange County delegation is showing leadership on the other ‘pandemic’

07/06/20  
We must find a cure for global heating as surely as a vaccine for the virus. Our best hope for a solution to carbon pollution is legislation in Congress through the Energy Innovation and Carbon…

While climate change divides Democrats and Republicans, renewable policy unites

By Tim Sylvia   07/06/20  
The questions pertain to a number of topics ranging from opinions on the reality of global warming, potential risk of climate change and individual policy questions.

Environmental groups: R.I. needs bold carbon-price plan

By Alex Kuffner   07/05/20  
In a letter sent afterward, the Green Energy Consumers Alliance, the Environment Council of Rhode Island, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and other organizations wrote that “we were surprised that discussion of climate change…

5 Kilmer Bills to Combat Climate Change Included in New Climate Crisis Recommendations

07/03/20  
On Tuesday, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled a comprehensive plan to put the country on the path to net-zero carbon pollution by 2050, recommending five bills introduced by Representative Derek Kilmer…

Proposed legislation a positive step forward in addressing climate change in rural areas

By Kayla Bergman   07/02/20  
Introduced by Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in early June, the bill also further solidifies the important role agriculture plays in addressing climate change by providing a good path forward for carbon…

As Democrats Unveil Ambitious Climate Goals, House Lawmakers Press For Green Stimulus

By Alexander C. Kaufman   07/01/20  
At least 59 congressional Democrats are calling on party leaders to add green provisions to a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill.

Massachusetts planned to address climate change in 2020. Now, time is running out.

By Nik DeCosta-Klipa,  Photo by Stephan Savoia   07/01/20  
Suddenly, as the Massachusetts economy slowly reopens after beating back the virus, there’s only a month left in this year’s legislative session — and advocates say the issue of climate change is as pressing as…

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   06/30/20  
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.

“We are at a crossroads”: House Democrats release plan to address climate crisis

By Jeff Berardelli   06/30/20  
The plan focuses on fusing climate solutions with economic growth and job creation, laying out 12 key pillars like investing in infrastructure, developing renewable energy, building resilience to climate impacts, and prioritizing environmental justice.
EDF

Congress set to vote on major job-creating, national infrastructure bill

By Felice Stadler   06/26/20  
By Felice Stadler Three months into the COVID-19 crisis, it’s clear that the American economy and the nation’s workforce needs more help. Millions are still out of work and experts have declared a recession. To…

The limitations of a climate change presidency

By Barry G. Rabe   06/23/20  
So should the 46th president follow in the footsteps of his immediate four predecessors, possibly as soon as January 2021, and prepare a more far-reaching set of environmental initiatives for an early-term administrative launch, regardless…

Advocates push for Pa. to take action on climate change in a virtual rally

By Julia Shanahan   06/16/20  
The group called for a state partnership with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, an alliance of nine New England and Mid-Atlantic states to cap carbon dioxide emissions.

Pandemic clouds progress on climate change legislation

By Elizabeth Gribkoff   Photo by Glenn Russell   06/14/20  
After a series of publicized protests and Statehouse interruptions, lawmakers were poised this year to move ahead on a bill that would require the state to meet strict greenhouse gas reduction targets.