Recent Sustainability In Congress

By: Shannon Reilly

In the past month, the new congress has taken more assertive action towards addressing climate change. It has even gotten some bipartisan support and allowed for a comprehensive conservation bill to be passed. They have even invested in new projects in nuclear energy with the help of Bill Gates and congress members on both sides of the aisle. Other recent proposals on the floor of the senate and house demonstrate an eagerness to address the looming issue of climate change and make the United States more sustainable.

The Senate will vote on the “Green New Deal” proposed by Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, which contains 14 pages of legislation that touches on everything from infrastructure, conservation, indigenous peoples, to public ownership. Some of its points that would make leaps in sustainability include the adoption of a smart grid, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, working with farmers and ranchers to reduce pollution from livestock and agriculture, ecosystem restoration and carbon storage. Though how this would be implemented is unclear and is extremely controversial even among democratic party, it shows a determined effort to start a conversation about taking immediate action on climate change.

The conservation bill is a cumulation of more than 100 different bills and just passed in the Senate as a wide sweeping effort in conservation that was supported by both Democrats and Republicans. It permanently established the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which draws from revenue from offshore drilling for oil. This bill will conserve 700,000 acres in additional lands from community parks to wildlife preserves and even protect land surrounding Yellowstone from mining.  

Bill Gates has also been in D.C. pushing for a reinvigoration in government investment in nuclear energy. His company, TerraPower, is experimenting with different types of reactors that could be more sustainable and safer, especially focusing on efficient methods of energy storage. The Energy Department awarded $221 million to companies in order to work towards improving methods of nuclear energy generation.

Though the 2020 elections still feel far away, it seems as if environmental issues will be at the forefront. Ideas are being circulated through Washington at an exciting rate, ranging from idealism to small, practical means of allowing more wilderness and checking the use of nonrenewable resources.

Photo via Pixabay.

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