September 25, 2020

House passes clean energy bill with Neguse wildfire amendment

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a clean energy bill by 220-185 that contained a provision to improve forecasting of wildfire smoke.

“As wildfires continue to burn across the Western United States, we must make federal investments to provide tools and data to keep communities safe,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, who was one of the amendment’s sponsors. “Additionally, as COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, we are experiencing the convergence of two monumental threats. We must remain focused on keeping people healthy by understanding the true impact of acute air pollution and COVID-19 together.”

The amendment gives the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $20 million per year to enhance its modeling of wildfire smoke emissions and movement. There is also a directive for multiple federal agencies to study the effects from chronic exposure to wildfire pollution “in the context of responding to the COVID–19 pandemic.” The underlying legislation is known as the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, and originally pertained to boosting rural renewable energy capacity.

The bill also included a pair of amendments from U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette to control methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federal lands, and to give direction to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on cleaning up polluted communities.

By:  Michael Karlik
Source: Colorado Politics