Bill in Congress has Four Important Climate Aspects


Via Flickr

Josie Taylor | September 13, 2021

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee approved its first piece of Democrats’ sweeping $3.5 trillion spending blueprint on a party-line 24-13 vote last week. Among the highest priorities for President Joe Biden in the plan was addressing climate change. 

The climate items are key for progressives in the House, dozens of whom have pledged not to support the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill unless a more robust climate bill also passes. 

One of the massive climate bills is the Natural Resources bill. This would make changes to oil and gas that climate activists have been advocating for. For example, this would raise rates on oil and gas developers operating on public lands and waters. 

The bill would also direct the Interior Department to hold lease sales for offshore windmills in U.S. territories.

$9.5 trillion would be used for Great Lakes restoration and coastal resilience. The projects would aim to increase protection from sea-level rise, flooding and storms, while also adding carbon sinks like seagrass.

The last climate aspect of the bill would be putting $3.5 billion towards climate jobs programs. Of this money, $3 billion would be for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps and $500 million for a program focused only on tribal lands.

Illinois bans microbeads; other states may follow


Atlantic Salmon. Photo via Eric Kilby; Flickr
Atlantic Salmon. Photo via Eric Kilby; Flickr

Illinois has become the first state in the nation to ban microbeads, the small plastic particles found in many soaps and skin care products.

Recent research found that most microbeads are too small to be detected by water filtration systems. This allows them to reach lakes and rivers, where they attract pollutants in the surrounding water. They are then consumed by fish, who confuse the plastic beads with fish eggs. If these fish are then consumed by humans or other wildlife, the toxins are able to spread throughout the food chain.

Researcher Sherri Mason found up to one million of the tiny pellets per square kilometer in areas of the Great Lakes.

Illinois is requiring manufacturers to phase out microbeads by the end of 2017. Some companies are already investigating biodegradable alternatives.

Illinois governor Pat Quinn hopes that the rest of the nation will follow Illinois’s example. There is a similar bill pending in New York, and legislators are taking action in Minnesota, Ohio, and California as well.

Concerned consumers should avoid purchasing products listing polyethylene or polypropylene among their ingredients.

Study supports Great Lakes’ offshore wind


Photo by gocarts, Flickr

Grant Valley State University recently conducted a study to determine the noise produced by wind turbines, and the visibility of these structures, if they were placed offshore on the Great Lakes. The University conducted this study in large part due to the public’s fear that  turbines would pose an audible and visual disturbance. However, the study concluded that the turbines would only be visible about half the time, and their sound probably wouldn’t reach shore. As the Midwest Energy News reports, this makes the proposed wind farms far less of a disturbance than the coal factories located along the great lakes:

A new study by Grand Valley State University may remind you of an old study by Grand Valley State University. The new one is on the impacts of offshore wind. The conclusion: Not as bad as people might think. The old study: Same bottom line. But will it change minds? Probably not, and that’s a (cough) shame.

The cough is from the coal that powers much of Michigan, and the Midwest. The deal with coal is that it’s been in use a long time, and some people just don’t see the harm it does. Continue reading