September 5, 2019
Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-01) announced the introduction of the bipartisan Super Pollutants Act, which aims to slow climate change by regulating black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons, and methane–some of the most potent greenhouse gases. These short-lived climate pollutants, also called super pollutants, are significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.
The Super Pollutants Act also seeks to preserve current standards on methane pollution from oil and gas production. The bill strengthens standards for global methane emissions, codifies methane emission standards for new sources of methane, and regulates emissions at existing oil and gas operations if voluntary industry efforts do not decrease methane emissions by 40 percent below 2012 levels.
The bill creates a task force of experts from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, and Department of State to create an action plan to reduce super pollutants based on policy recommendations provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, U.S. Climate Alliance, the Interagency Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, and the Clean Cooking Alliance. The Super Pollutants Act also coordinates international efforts to reduce super pollutants by requiring federal agencies to provide technical assistance to other nations looking to curb their super pollutants.
The bill is based on research by Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan of UC San Diego and former student Dr. Yangyang Xu and policy research by Durwood Zaelke and David Victor that found aggressively cutting super pollutants now could avoid 1.5 degrees of warming by the end of the century. Additional research demonstrates that curbing super pollutants could reduce sea level rise 18 percent by 2050 and 24 percent by the end of the century, according to studies cited in an Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development report.
Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a related bill in the Senate.
“As oceans warm, sea levels rise, and droughts sear our world, we must find immediate ways to slow and reverse climate change or face these dire consequences of inaction. The Super Pollutants Act makes immediate, tangible steps to address some of the worst contributors to climate change and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas present in the atmosphere. We need bipartisan partnerships to address key drivers of climate change today and I look forward to using the coalition we’ve built to further address the climate crisis in innovative ways,” said Rep. Peters.
“Eliminating harmful pollutants from our air, earth, and water is an endeavor that transcends party lines. Environmental stewardship should not be held captive by protracted partisan politics. I’m proud to cosponsor this bill that promotes bipartisan solutions to address the undeniable reality of climate change and takes actionable steps to stem the dischargement of super pollutants. This legislation institutes a business-friendly and free market approach to mitigating pollution by encouraging private companies to voluntarily limit their own emissions. We have many differences in this town, but an issue we should all be able to agree on as humans is the fact that we collectively share the Earth — our most universally precious commodity,” said Rep. Gaetz.
“Cutting super pollutants is the fastest way to slow the pace of climate change. Most are more potent warming agents than carbon dioxide, but they do not remain in the atmosphere as long, which means reducing super pollutant emissions has immediate benefits,” said Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. “This Super Pollutants Act, if passed, would be a significant step toward stabilizing climate in the short term, but it must be done in concert with zero emissions of carbon dioxide if we are to avoid existential threats to life on Earth.”
“Bipartisanship on climate change these days almost qualifies as a miracle, and so I commend Congressmen Scott Peters and Matt Gaetz for finding common ground in introducing legislation to address the most potent of greenhouse gases, the so-called super pollutants. Strategic and patriotic—a moral effort,” said Rev. Mitch Hescox, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
"While much of the climate focus has been on carbon dioxide, methane and other short-lived pollutants are potent greenhouse gases. The Super Pollutants Act of 2019 addresses this critical gap by reducing emissions in the near term and helping us restore the atmosphere to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” said Rob Jackson, the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and at the Precourt Institute for Energy.
“Not all greenhouse gases are equal. This legislation is a crucial step for reducing greenhouse gases that have a disproportionately strong climate-forcing effect. By reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants and developing best practices here in the U.S., we have an opportunity to demonstrate and implement climate solutions that are in-demand in the global marketplace, particularly in fast-growing developing country economies. I thank Reps. Peters and Gaetz for their leadership on this critical issue, and I look forward to working on passage of this legislation,” said Heather Reams, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.
“Cutting super pollutants may be the only way we can save the Arctic from complete collapse and stay within the 1.5C threshold. The Super Pollutants Act of 2019 shows how to slam on the breaks to slow near-term warming and will inspire action on campuses, in corporations, in cities and states, and around the world,” said Durwood Zaelke, founder and President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD).
“Combating climate change is essential to maintaining healthy oceans, and Oceana applauds Congressman Peters and Congressman Gaetz for introducing the Super Pollutants Act. Studies have shown that reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants such as HFCs, black carbon, and methane can make a significant contribution to reducing warming in the near term. This bipartisan bill takes significant steps toward addressing these ‘super pollutants’ with high global warming potential. This bill is good news for our planet, and good news for our oceans,” said Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana.