Despite a slow start to the 116th Congress, over the past few months House and Senate committees are moving a number of important climate mitigation bills that could help drive down greenhouse gas emissions if signed into law. With continued advocacy from folks like Audubon’s members, we could see meaningful progress over the next year. According to Audubon’s science, climate change is the biggest threat to North American birds, but if we act quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we can help improve the chances for the overwhelming majority of bird species at risk.
In September, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources advanced a number of relevant bills that would reduce emissions in different sectors of the economy. The Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act (S.1602) would establish a research, development, and demonstration program for grid-scale energy storage systems—technology that is critical to building an electricity grid powered completely by clean energy. The Clean Industrial Technology (CITA) Act of 2019 (S.2300) would establish a program to develop technology that could reduce emissions from the industrial sector, which includes manufacturing, shipping, and heavy-duty transportation. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2019 (S.2137), introduced by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Shaheen (D-NH), would promote energy efficiency in buildings, reducing how much electricity must be generated to meet the needs of consumers. The next step for these bills is to be debated by the full Senate.
Last week, a subcommittee of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee debated a number of other energy bills. The list includes the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act (S.2714), which sets increasing funding levels for the next five years for an agency in the Department of Energy conducting important research on alternative energy technology.
In the House, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is considering similar legislation that could catalyze emissions reductions. The committee has also advanced a version of the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act, with funding levels set even higher than in the Senate. A subcommittee has also advanced the Clean Industrial Technology Act, and will consider the BEST Act soon.
With one more year left in this session of Congress, we have seen some progress in the right direction as the House and Senate advance bills that could reduce emissions in a piecemeal manner. While we likely will not see a comprehensive climate bill next year, in combination, these energy bills could drive innovation and deployment of clean energy technology, and could attract a coalition of legislators ready to take bigger steps. Take action to support climate solutions today.