Every year on Earth Day, we have the opportunity to appreciate our planet, all its wonderful features, and our interconnectedness as living creatures. Representing a place as beautiful as San Diego gives me the perfect opportunity to focus on policies and initiatives that protect our climate and environment. Since the beginning of my service in Congress, I've worked hard to reach across the aisle to reduce harmful emissions, strengthen our infrastructure to withstand the effects of climate change, and bolster the creation of a clean energy economy.
One year ago, I introduced the Methane Emissions Technology to Help Achieve Net-Zero Emissions (METHANE) Act, a long-term, durable solution to curb dangerous methane emissions and put the United States on competitive footing with the rest of the world.
For this special edition of my weekly newsletter, I'm providing a recap of my work to address the climate crisis over the last year.
It's an honor for me to represent CA-52 in Congress and thank you for your continued support. Happy Earth Day!
Bills Passed & Signed into Law
Bills and Provisions Passed in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
In January, l discussed critical IIJA investments in electric vehicle charging stations at a press conference at Liberty Station.
The Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law in November 2021 and represents a major bipartisan victory to upgrade our country's infrastructure. IIJA provides historic investments to modernize the nation’s roads, bridges, railways, transit, energy systems, broadband, and other critical infrastructure projects to bring communities across America up to speed. Several elements of the bill are currently being implemented all around the country.
The IIJA included my Prevent Outages with Energy Resiliency Options Nationwide (POWER ON) Act which will help fix the regulatory framework that hampers the United States’ ability to meet our nation’s energy goals. By promoting the interstate transmission of electricity, the POWER ON Act helps boost reliability, decarbonize the power sector, electrify the transportation sector, adapt the grid to withstand the devastating effects of climate change, and lower electricity costs for consumers.
This past January, the Department of Energy launched the “Building a Better Grid” Initiative to carry out key transmission provisions in IIJA, including the POWER ON Act. The program is working with community and industry stakeholders to identify national transmission needs and support the buildout of long-distance, high voltage transmission facilities.
Provisions on Wildfire Resilience and Clean Energy Innovation:
Wildfire resilience: To address ongoing and increasingly dangerous wildfire threats, IIJA included funding for wildfire mitigation and resilience, including over $100 million for hazardous fuels reduction projects on public and private lands. Notably, I co-sponsored two bills related to wildfires that were included in the IIJA:
- Sen. Alex Padilla’s (D-CA) bill to provide grants to harden the electric grid against extreme weather, including wildfires,
- and the Wildland Fire Mitigation & Management Commission Act of 2021 to update the federal government's comprehensive approach to fight wildfires.
Carbon removal and clean hydrogen: To address the climate crisis, we will need to lead the world in developing next generation clean technologies. IIJA funds critical energy technologies and demonstration projects including for geothermal, energy efficiency, clean hydrogen, and carbon removal technologies.
Resolution to Reinstate Two Key Rules that Set Stronger Regulations on Methane Pollution
Scientists and climate experts agree that reining in methane emissions is considered "low hanging fruit" in the fight against climate change.
In July 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law a bipartisan resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to reduce dangerous methane pollution. I co-introduced this resolution with Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-01) and Rep. Conor Lamb (PA-17) to reinstate two key Obama-era rules that set stronger regulations on methane pollution emitted by the nation's oil and gas industry.
The production of oil and natural gas is the largest source of methane pollution in the United States. In September 2020, the Trump administration rescinded critical methane capture rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration. The reversal weakened, and in some cases eliminated, requirements that oil and natural gas companies limit methane from their operations.
This action to reinstate the rules remains one of the most significant actions Congress has ever taken to combat the climate crisis and is a victory for public health advocates and U.S. industry.
Leading Through Bill Introductions
Maintaining a Safe Climate
Earlier this month, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20) and I co-introduced the Federal Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Leadership Act. This bill prioritizes carbon removal as a solution to our climate challenges, and answers the urgent call made by the most recent IPCC report on climate change.
The Federal CDR Leadership Act proves we're serious about leading the world in addressing climate change, creating well-paying jobs in the clean energy transition, and developing essential next generation technologies in America.
Strengthening Our Federal Responses to Climate Disasters
To kick off 2022, Rep. María Salazar (FL-27), Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and I introduced the National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act (NCARS), a bill to streamline the federal response to climate hazards that threaten human health, safety and critical infrastructure. Having a robust national strategy will be essential as we face the increasingly dangerous climate hazards of the future.
Reasserting American Leadership on Climate and Supporting U.S. Workers
Last July, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and I introduced the FAIR Transition and Competition Act of 2021. This bicameral legislation would establish a border carbon adjustment (BCA) on polluting imports. Imposing a BCA would protect U.S. jobs, reduce global emissions, and provide enhanced support to communities that suffer the worst effects of climate change.
A BCA levels the field for domestic manufacturers by imposing a fee on carbon-intensive products from other countries when they reach the U.S. border. This will incentivize investments in cleaner technologies and account for the cost of complying with U.S. laws and regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.
My staff is always happy to help and answer questions on policy ideas. If you would like to contact my office, you can visit our website or call the district office at 858-455-5550.