Important Pending Federal Legislation

 

H.R. 5376 Also called Build Back Better or Reconciliation Bill- Currently being debated. While funding has been proposed to be cut from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, funds for climate change and clean energy funding have been trimmed by $50 billion to $550 billion by Democrats last week (October 28).  For more information, go to any of these websites:

 

A LITTLE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE 

Two pollutants contribute most to global climate change—methane and carbon dioxide. Methane has a greater effect on warming than carbon dioxide (pound for pound about 25x to as much as 80x more (see EPA website below and https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210805-the-search-for-the-worlds-largest-methane-sources) but far less is emitted into the atmosphere. The main human activity that emits carbon dioxide (CO2) is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy and transportation; transportation contributes about 35 percent and electricity production about 31 percent of annual CO2 emissions in the US. (see https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases for more information). Generally, burning coal will produce more CO2 than natural gas or oil.

The US EPA estimated in 2019 that methane (CH4) accounted for about 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, although a recently published comprehensive study estimates this number to be 25% (please read more about this study here). Natural gas is primarily composed of methane, and a synthesis of research compiled by the Environmental Defense Fund found that the U.S. oil and gas industry was emitting at least 13 million metric tons of methane a year — about 60% more than the Environmental Protection Agency estimated. Using sophisticated methane tracking found that a primary source of methane was leaking natural gas pipelines and wells. Livestock activities are another significant source of methane.

FACTS AND STATUS OF LEGISLATION – BUILD BACK BETTER

A key element of the Build Back Better legislation that has been eliminated at the “request” of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was a $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program, or CEPP, that would have paid utilities to switch from greenhouse gas-emitting electricity sources to non-emitting sources such as wind, solar, hydropower and nuclear. Manchin has received the most oil and gas money in the Senate to date in 2022, nearly four times as much as the next leading Senator (Open Secret website). After Wyoming, West Virginia is the largest coal producing state in the U.S.

President Biden subsequently proposed $320 billion in expanded clean energy tax credits as an alternative to the CEPP because of Senator Manchin’s objection.

Original climate elements in the budget bill also included $13.5 billion for more electric vehicle charging stations and for the conversion of trucks to electric. This and a proposed tax credit of $7500 for electric vehicles could mean 50-60% of total vehicle sales in 2030 would be electric. Other programs proposed in the budget include those that would increase climate resilience, create well-paid jobs building clean energy projects, improve critical water infrastructure, create a Civilian Climate Corps to pave a new pathway to well-paid green jobs in rural America and support climate science and clean energy research and innovation. The extent to which these remain intact is unclear as of November 8.  

As noted above, you can send or modify a generic climate justice support letter by using the link Tell Congress to Make Climate Justice a Priority or find other examples, websites and information on how to contact your Senator or Representative by going to our HOW YOU CAN HELP page

 

FACTS AND STATUS OF LEGISLATION - OTHER IMPORTANT FEDERAL LEGISLATION

HR 3684- Infrastructure Bill – Sponsored by Representative DeFrazio- Approved by House and Senate with changes. House has postponed further consideration of the bill until the budget is decided. 

This bill primarily includes funding for highway, transit programs and safety, but does include strategies to reduce the climate change impacts of the surface transportation system and a vulnerability assessment to identify opportunities to enhance the resilience of the surface transportation system and ensure the efficient use of federal resources.

Senate Bill 938- Senator Sanders- Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works

This bill, sponsored by Senator Sanders, directs the President to declare a national emergency relating to climate change. Further, the President must ensure that the federal government invests in projects to mitigate the emergency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At least 40% of such investments must be for historically disadvantaged communities.

In addition, the President must ensure that the federal government reinvests in existing public sector institutions and creates new public sector institutions to strategically mobilize and channel investments at the scale and pace required by the emergency. It has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Senate Bill 1251- sponsored by Senator Braun and passed by the Senate. Awaiting House approval.

This bill authorizes the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a voluntary Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program to help reduce entry barriers into voluntary environmental credit markets for farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners. A voluntary environmental credit market is a market through which agriculture and forestry credits may be bought or sold.

Entities eligible to participate in the program are (1) providers of technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, or private forest landowners in carrying out sustainable land use management practices that prevent, reduce, or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, or sequester carbon; or (2) third-party verifiers that conduct the verification of the processes described in the protocols for voluntary environmental credit markets.

Link to HOW YOU CAN HELP