Last Friday, with the release of an updated version of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, the US Senate took another step in passing climate change legislation similar to what passed the House of Representatives in June of this year. This week, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold hearings to examine the bill and some of the issues surrounding it. The proposed legislation will reduce carbon emissions over the coming decades to a level scientists believe will allow us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It also provides important investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, consumer protection, and natural resources protections that will help the country transition to a new energy economy and seek to protect natural resources and communities from the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
The Senate has elected to keep funding for natural resources protections at the same level as that included in the House Bill; 1% of allowances beginning in 2012, 2% beginning in 2022, and 4% beginning in 2027. This money will be available to help federal and state agencies better understand and plan for the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife and engage in projects and management activities to enhance important habitats and better protect species and ecosystems. While this funding is critical to protecting trout and salmon populations and their coldwater habitats from climate impacts, TU and many other conservation organizations believe we will need much greater investment in natural resources protections going forward.
In order to protect trout and salmon species for the future, we need to both reduce carbon emissions to minimize the worst impacts of climate change and work to protect fish and wildlife and ecosystems from the unavoidable impacts of climate change. The current bill takes strong steps in the right direction on both of these fronts, and TU will be working to strengthen the protections for natural resources as we move forward. You can read the full bill or a summary of it here, and we encourage you to contact your Senators about this important legislation.