Several of Congressman Scott Peters’ clean energy priorities passed within the FY21 funding bill, including his USEIT Act incentivizing research and development of carbon capture technology and legislation he proposed to phase out the use of HFCs to reduce harmful super pollutants.
Read more about the bill in this December 27th piece by the San Diego Union Tribune, posted below:
Congress passes most significant climate change legislation in a decade, as studies paint an increasingly dire future
December 27th, 2020
Recent scientific studies continue to paint a grim future as the world’s climate changes.
Another in a series of United Nations reports notes that while COVID-19 spread rapidly, the globe experienced an intense hurricane season, increasing wildfires and, according to National Public Radio, animal species dying off “in what some experts believe is a mass species extinction.”
Just last week, Congress took a substantial step toward slowing that trend, passing what has been widely hailed as the most significant climate change policy in at least a decade. Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, played a key role in shaping two measures included in the package.
By themselves, the proposals that would cut greenhouse gas emissions by developing more clean power would only make a dent in changing what’s projected for the future.
But the bipartisan support for the measures along with backing from both business and environmental organizations suggest more action is in the offing. Further, analysts say a key component of the package — the phasing out of hydrofluorocarbon coolants used in refrigerators and air conditioners — could signal to the international community that the United States is ready to re-engage in the global fight against climate change.
The sweeping COVID-19 stimulus and government spending bill approved Monday includes $35 billion to promote wind and solar power while over time essentially doing away with hydrofluorocarbons, often referred to as HFCs.
This would have been huge news in another time, but was understandably overshadowed first by approval of the coronavirus relief package, and then by President Donald Trump’s suggestion that he may veto it. (Trump signed the measure on Sun. Dec. 27.)
Nevertheless, the universal praise of the climate package reported by several news organizations was a sharp departure from the business vs. environment struggle that for years has characterized the conflict over climate change policy.
“This agreement protects both American consumers and American businesses,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We can have clean air without damaging our economy.”
Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the committee, said the proposals would create thousands of jobs and help “save our planet from the climate crisis.”
That all may sound too good to be true, but others basically agreed.
Marty Durbin, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the legislation is “truly historic” and will lead to innovation, economic growth and a better environment.
The House approved a measure by Reps. Peters and David McKinley, R-W.Va., — the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USEIT) Act — which includes financial incentives to create technologies that capture carbon emissions and develop them into commercial products.
Also approved was a Senate version of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act by Peters and other House members that takes aim at HFCs.
“We must invest in a clean energy economy to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis,” Peters said in a statement. “This package offers our country a chance to heal the planet, create green economy jobs and better enables us to compete globally.”
According to The New York Times, HFCs are a small percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, compared with carbon dioxide from the fossil fuels that power vehicles, electric plants and factories, but they have 1,000 times the heat-trapping potency of carbon dioxide. International agreements seek to phase out HFCs.
The legislation “will bring significant climate relief relatively quickly,” said Matt Casale, director of environment campaigns for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
The Rhodium Group, a research and consulting firm, concluded the coolant phase-out would be one of the most significant federal policies ever taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Times.
The legislation takes the country in the opposite direction from Trump’s approach, which has been to roll back regulations aimed at reducing harmful emissions.
The vast majority of scientific research suggests drastic action is needed as climate change continues to march forward.
A new study by researchers from McGill University in Montreal said the threshold for dangerous global warming will be crossed between 2027 and 2042, according to Science Daily. That’s a narrower window than the estimate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was between now and 2052.
The U.N. report referenced earlier contends that the planet has entered a new geological age of danger, not just from climate change, but crisis and conflict that force people from their homes, and growing societal inequalities.
“In fact, the pressures we exert on the planet have become so great that scientists are considering whether the Earth has entered an entirely new geological epoch: the Anthropocene, or the age of humans,” wrote Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, which issued the report.
“It means that we are the first people to live in an age defined by human choice, in which the dominant risk to our survival is ourselves.”
To paraphrase a famous saying, we have met the enemy and it is us.