WASHINGTON (September 24, 2020) – “As we mark both Climate Week and National Clean Energy Week, it is fitting that the House has taken important steps toward improving our energy system so that it will meet the challenges facing communities and wildlife in the wake of climate change,” said Michael Obeiter, senior director for federal climate policy at the National Audubon Society. “Our own research has shown that bird populations will be devastated if we don’t take steps to address rising global temperatures caused by increased pollution. This package will bring us closer to modernizing our energy system and ensuring that the burden of climate change doesn’t fall on historically marginalized communities.”
The Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act (H.R. 4447), which passed the House in a bipartisan manner, includes programs for research and development of renewable energy like solar and wind power, innovation for storing energy generated by renewable sources, and the reauthorization of funding for development of technology to help revolutionize the energy industry. The bill was further strengthened through the adoption of amendments that would establish an independent DOE Foundation to accelerate the commercialization of promising clean energy technologies; increase authorizations for clean energy R&D by 50%; establish a climate justice grants program; and explore agricultural applications for solar energy.
In particular, a pair of amendments from Reps. Quigley (D-IL) and Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) provide substantial protections for birds. Rep. Quigley’s amendment, a version of his Bird-Safe Buildings Act, would direct the federal government to incorporate materials and design features to minimize bird collisions with federal buildings. And Rep. Mucarsel-Powell’s amendment would help deploy more underground transmission lines, reducing the risks of disruption during extreme weather events and further mitigating the risk of fatal bird collisions.
“As we envision the future of our country after we have fully recovered from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, we have the chance to come together to create a cleaner and safer future for us all,” said Obeiter. “Birds are telling us that the time to act on climate change is now, but we can only succeed with bipartisan support and common sense solutions. This bill gets us that much closer to achieving that goal.”
Among the priority bills championed by Audubon are:
- the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act,
- the Clean Industrial Technology Act
- the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act,
- the Solar Energy Research and Development Act,
- the Wind Energy Research and Development Act, and
- the reauthorization of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E).
- The package also includes elements of the Environmental Justice Act, Voices for Environmental Justice Act, and the Environmental Justice for All Act.
Last year, Audubon released Survival By Degrees, a report that found that two-thirds of North American birds are vulnerable to extinction from climate change unless dramatic action is taken immediately. The earth’s temperature is on a course to rise 3 degrees Celsius by 2080, which could prove disastrous. By keeping that rise in check even by half, the vast majority of bird species could be preserved.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.
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