Sometimes it can feel like the fight to save the planet is a lonely one. Making environmentally friendly choices as an individual is easier now than ever before, but what about the bigger picture? Will everyone else do their part, too?
Thankfully, with the turn of 2020, there are many big-impact, environmentally friendly moves taking place in the United States. Facing major environmental risks, the 116th Congress is confronting the challenges and presenting green initiatives to address them.
Check out these pending green laws that could take effect in 2020 and that would support eco-friendly initiatives and sustainability around the country.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction
In 2019, the United States ranked #1 in the world for carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon Brief tweeted a shocking animation of countries with the largest CO2 emissions since 1750, which placed the United States far ahead of the next leading contributors.
In response, the nation is turning to these environmentally friendly pieces of legislation to combat the growing issue of greenhouse gasses.
Climate Action Now Act (H.R.9)
In May 2019, The House of Representatives approved the Climate Action Now Act. It made history as the first congressional vote in a decade that addresses the threat of climate change.
The bill would make sure the US keeps its word on the climate change commitments, despite President Trump's exit from the Paris Agreement in November.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, "The bill, also called H.R.9, would require that President Trump send a plan to Congress detailing how the country will meet its emissions reductions targets."
The targets would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent (back to 2005 levels) by the year 2025.
Green New Deal (H.Res.109 & S.Res.59)
The Green New Deal gets its name from history's “New Deal,” a socio-economic plan undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as an answer to the Great Depression. The Green New Deal is an environmentally friendly approach to economic growth by using resource efficiency and renewable energy.
According to Congress, it's one of the most significant actions brought forth to address climate change on a large scale. The initiative has been causing a ruckus in Congress since a bill was introduced in both the House and the Senate addressing it. The Green New Deal is quite possibly one of the most controversial eco-friendly initiatives because it has the potential to dramatically impact American lives on a real and daily basis.
The Green New Deal looks at both the immediate effects of climate change and also the economic, social, and industrial reforms necessary to lower greenhouse gases and improve quality of life for all of Earth's inhabitants.
Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure
Roads, highways, and bridges aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about making environmentally friendly choices. However, by adjusting the concrete jungle we live in, we can reduce greenhouse gases, optimize renewable energy, and protect the land.
National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2019 (H.R.658)
Introduced by Rosa L. DeLauro, the goal of this bill is to create and fund a public bank that would use private and public money to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, including roads, highways, bridges, telecommunications, and environmental and energy projects.
The bank would fund infrastructure projects that focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increase access to public transportation systems, and reduce traffic congestion on highways and in the air.
The bank would also increase renewable energy systems and provide protection to inland and coastal flood areas.
Coastal Communities Adaptation Act (H.R.1317)
This bill would improve the structure of the natural and manmade environment to be able to withstand natural disasters caused by climate change. Introduced by Harley Rouda, HR1317 would provide funding for various green initiatives, such as wetland restoration, the creation of shoreline management and conservation plans, and the prevention of coastal hazards.
Advancing Renewable Energy & Efficiency
Despite the growing concerns around environmental damage, two of the most hopeful sectors growing in the US are renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Renewable Electricity Standard Act (S.1974)
This bill, introduced by Tom Udall, would establish a national standard for the generation of renewable electricity from utilities within every state.
According to a press release by Senator Udall, the goal of this legislation is “to achieve at least 50 percent renewable electricity nationwide in just 15 years - putting the U.S. on a trajectory to decarbonize the power sector by 2050."
If passed, electricity providers across the country would be required to expand their renewable energy from sources like solar and wind every year.
Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act of 2019 (H.R.1315)
Introduced by Bobby L. Rush, this bill would establish an Energy Workforce Grant Program that would increase US employment opportunities in the clean, renewable energy sector.
The program would hone in on job creation for minority workers and people in low-income areas. Job opportunities would include those in energy efficiency, solar power, wind power, energy storage, and clean vehicles.
The bill would also establish developmental and educational programs for workers to acquire skills and knowledge to work and advance in energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.
Progress in Congress for a Greener 2020
The environment has taken a beating over the past few decades. Habitats have been lost, several species of animals have gone extinct, crops have been destroyed by disease, and communities have been displaced by rising sea levels and natural disasters.
However, hope is not lost. Not only are people like you striving to make their lives more environmentally friendly every single day, but also we are starting to see actionable legislation put in place that will protect the planet and begin to reverse some of the damage.
Even if some of these green bills don’t become laws, they’re still a crucial step forward. These eco-friendly initiatives are starting conversations about the challenges we’re facing and building awareness. In all, they’re addressing what we as a nation can do to create an environmentally friendly planet.
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