House passes sweeping clean energy bill
The House on Thursday passed a broad bill that aims to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy sources as part of an attempt to combat climate change.
The chamber approved the 900-page Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act in a 220-185 vote.
The legislation would create research and development programs for solar, wind, advanced geothermal energy and hydroelectric power as well as lessening pollution from fossil fuel production.
It would also establish more rigorous building codes and bolster energy efficiency requirements and weatherization programs.
The bill moved rapidly through the House. It was first introduced last week and did not go through any legislative hearings.
A similar energy innovation package that was introduced in the Senate earlier this year has recently been reenergized after legislators came to an agreement on an amendment seeking to phase down the use of a type of greenhouse gas.
A senior House Democratic aide told The Hill that if the Senate passes its own bill, the chambers can go to conference to resolve their disagreements. The aide said that House Democrats urge Republicans to take some action on clean energy, either moving by their own bill or taking up the House bill.
Speaking in favor of the House legislation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised it as one step in the fight to tackle climate change.
“It takes actions that scientists, researchers and experts tell us is needed by launching the research and development needed to unleash a clean energy revolution and reduce pollution in our communities, making a bold down payment for future climate action by modernizing America’s energy innovation infrastructure,” she said.
The top Republicans on the Natural Resources, Energy and Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees released a joint statement criticizing the legislation this week.
“Here we are in the middle of a global pandemic and Speaker Pelosi wants to spend more than $135 billion on a piece of legislation that will never become law,” said Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). “This bill is chock-full of government mandates that would raise what Americans pay for everything from the vehicles they drive to what they pay to heat, cool, and power their homes.”
The passage also occurs as the country is facing several natural disasters like an active hurricane season and wildfires, putting an extra spotlight on climate change.
The legislation has received mixed reviews from environmentalists, who have supported its renewables and efficiency provisions but criticized others. One area that they’ve criticized is the promotion of carbon capture, in which carbon is removed from the air, particularly from the fossil fuel industry.
Other provisions included in the legislation aim to expand the use of electric vehicles and add protections for communities that are disproportionately harmed by environmental issues like pollution.
Dozens of amendments ahead of its passage, including one increasing funding for renewable energy related activities in the bill, making it so that the funding for these activities is greater than funding for reducing pollution from fossil fuels.