Newly passed infrastructure bill invests in climate action


Via Flickr.

By Eleanor Hildebrandt | November 9, 2021

With the passing of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in the U.S. Congress, the largest environmental spending package ever is waiting on President Joe Biden’s signature.

$47 billion is designated by the federal government to invest in climate resistance within the country, starting with helping multiple communities prepare for extreme floods, fire, natural disasters, and droughts. The bill passed with bipartisan support. According to The New York Times, the bill’s passing is an indication that at least some Republicans in the federal government believe in human-caused climate change and its economic impacts.

A second bill looking to fund climate change mitigation in the United States is still waiting on a congressional vote. The legislation would give an additional $555 billion to global warming mitigation.

The House of Representatives passed the infrastructure bill on Friday, but it has yet to be signed by the president. The portion of the legislation focusing on climate change mitigation was partially written by Republican lawmakers, including Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy. Louisiana will see more funding regarding hurricanes.

In 2020 alone, 22 climate disasters struck the U.S. that cost over $1 billion. This broke a 2011 and 2017 tie at 16. These events included the derecho that hit Iowa in August 2020, wildfires on the west coast, tornados across Tornado Alley, and six hurricanes hitting the southeastern coast.

The legislation also looks to reduce emissions, according to Forbes, alongside backing clean energy provisions. The bill provides more than $200 million to tribal nations who have disproportionately been impacted by climate change.

Congress eyes legislation to improve environmental justice


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | August 24, 2021

Communities that have been devastated by environmental degradation might see some environmental justice soon if Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration get their way.

Democrats in Washington are eyeing a $3.5 trillion spending plan that will help these communities like never before. The plan is in early stages, but there are plans for the government to recognize the suffering of these communities — something activists have been fighting for years to receive.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, a co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance said the bill does not go far enough. According to Iowa Capital Dispatch, she said the bill needs to be malleable because of the different circumstances across all 50 states. She also wants legislators to “be bold” in resetting the “legacy of environmental racism.”

Some of the plans for this legislation are to make investments in environmental justice by improving the affordability of water and access to clean drinking water, as well as climate equity.

There has been a recent push for environmental justice and equity to be a focus in Washington. CBS News reported that environmental justice allows congress to examine two important arenas of policy at the same time: combatting the climate crisis and fighting racial inequalities.

The bill has yet to be finalized and shared with the public.

Solar industry fears loss of federal finances


Photo by Christine, Flickr

The solar energy industry has experienced quite the boom recently.  Their installations doubled in 2010 and have the potential to do the same in 2011.  However, that kind of growth could come to an end should two important federal programs stop providing some crucial financing.

Solve Climate News reports:

U.S. solar energy installations are poised to double in 2011 for the second year in a row, but the industry could fall short of its lofty, long-term goals for growth if two key federal programs dry up, officials say.

“We are in reach of our goal of installing 10 gigawatts of solar annually by 2015. That’s enough to power more than 2 million homes with clean reliable solar energy each and every year,” Tom Kimbis, vice president of strategy and external affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), told reporters on a conference call.

“But to reach that goal, Congress needs to make the right investments in solar energy,” he said.

Around 1,800 megawatts of solar power will be installed in the U.S. this year, up from the 887 megawatts installed in 2010, Shayle Kann, managing director of solar research at GTM Research, said on the call.

“This is going to be a time when we see enormous changes … and everything that comes with the maturation of a sector is going to be compressed into a very short period of time over the next year and a half in the U.S.,” Kann added. Continue reading