Acting on Climate Change
Throughout the 117th Congress, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology acted in the fight against the climate crisis. In this effort we held hearings, drafted and passed legislation, and moved the conversation forward on strong, innovative climate policy. Protecting our planet, our people, and serving as stewards for the next generation requires a coordinated effort. We will continue to pursue the Committee's aggressive climate agenda in 2022.
- Enacted legislation to advance climate research and solutions. On August 9, 2022, President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law. The majority of the CHIPS and Science Act is made up of bipartisan provisions that started in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The bold funding for science and innovation in this legislation will catalyze solutions for the climate crisis including transformative support for clean energy technologies and emissions measurement.
- Science Committee Majority Staff submitted a report during a hearing on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The staff report, “Seeing CH4 Clearly: Science-Based Approaches to Methane Monitoring in the Oil and Gas Sector,” has three key findings: oil and gas companies are failing to address super-emitting leaks; oil and gas companies are failing to use quantification data to mitigate methane leak emissions; and oil and gas companies are deploying innovative LDAR technologies in a limited and inconsistent manner. The Committee’s investigation into methane leak and detection programs began early last year. In December 2021, Chairwoman Johnson sent letters to ten operators in the Permian requesting information and documents on companies’ LDAR programs and methane emissions data.
- Held a hearing to discuss the findings of the IPCC reports. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released three working group reports that lead up to the release of the IPCC's Synthesis Report in 2022. The Working Group I report is on the physical science basis, Working Group II covers impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and Working Group III focuses on climate change mitigation, assessing methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
- Committee leaders held multiple hearings on the climate crisis. From examining the science behind the impacts of climate change, to working towards climate equity, exploring climate adaption and resilience opportunities for the Federal Government, and reviewing the climate strategies of our federal agencies including the Department of Energy and National Space and Aeronautics Administration, we are working to address climate change from every angle.
- Held a hearing on nature-based infrastructure and its contribution to resilient communities. On March 2, 2022, Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) of the Subcommittee on Environment chaired a hearing to discuss going from gray to green infrastructure. Nature-based infrastructure or similar terms, like “natural infrastructure” or “green infrastructure,” generally refers to natural or engineered systems that mimic natural processes. It is used to mitigate the effects of natural hazards to protect against coastal and inland flooding, minimize erosion, and improve runoff management, for example. It is also used to increase resilience in the face of climate change. During the hearing Members discussed the environmental, economic, and social co-benefits of nature-based infrastructure and its contribution to resilient communities. Members also discussed the co-benefits of nature-based infrastructure and the research, development, and long-term monitoring needed to quantify these co-benefits.
- Held a hearing to examine the state of hydrogen research and development in the United States. The International Energy Agency (IEA) names hydrogen as one of the “biggest innovation opportunities” to reduce global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050, limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and avert the worst effects of climate change. On February 17, 2022, the Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on R&D to advance a clean hydrogen future. Members discussed hydrogen research, development, and demonstration activities as they relate to the advancement of clean hydrogen, including production, storage, transportation, and utilization. Members also discussed the role of hydrogen in the decarbonization of energy and industrial sectors, as well as opportunities and challenges for hydrogen deployment and utilization will also be discussed. The hearing examined potential strategies for this Committee to direct the activities of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.
- Introduced legislation to improve precipitation data to adjust to a rapidly changing climate, prepare for emergencies, and ensure long-term resiliency. Precipitation data is used in immediate decisions like evacuation orders during a hurricane, as well as long-term decisions like planning zoning restrictions to minimize climate risks, or buying a mortgage for a new home. H.R. 1437, the Providing Research and Estimates of Changes in Precipitation (PRECIP) Act, was introduced by Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) of the Subcommittee on Environment and passed out of Committee on November 16, 2021. This bipartisan legislation would update out-of-date precipitation data in the U.S. by providing NOAA with consistent funding to collect data and conduct studies.
- Held a hearing in response to the Texas Grid failures. In February 2021, severe winter storms caused extended power outages in Texas and other southern and midwestern states. On March 18, 2021, the Committee held a hearing to understand what caused these outages and to examine associated grid research and development needs. The hearing also served as a legislative hearing for H.R. 4939, the Grid Security Research and Development Act introduced on August 6, 2021 by Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA).
- Held a hearing on the pathways of sustainable aviation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its annual inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) shows that aviation emissions have consistently increased at a faster pace than any other area of transportation in recent years. On March 24, 2021, the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held a hearing to examine research and technology approaches to sustainable aviation, including activities for improving the energy efficiency and reducing the climate and environmental impacts of civil and commercial aviation; inform research and development priorities to achieve emissions reduction goals for the aviation sector; and other issues.
- Passed legislation to protect our oceans. 2021 is the beginning of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. As part of a large effort to protect our Oceans, on May 18, 2021 the House passed H.R. 1447, the “Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act of 2021”. This bipartisan legislation addresses ocean acidification, the gradual decrease in oceanic pH due primarily to the absorption of excess atmospheric carbon dioxide by seawater, by reauthorizing and updating the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act. The bill was introduced in the House by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Chairwoman Johnson (D-TX) is a cosponsor. The COAST Research Act is also included in the America COMPETES Act, which passed the House in February 2022.
- Held a hearing on plastic waste and how to move from staggering statistics to a sustainable future. Members discussed federal research and development and standards development needs to help address the plastic waste crisis and barriers to the current recycling system. In addition, Members explored challenges and opportunities for adopting sustainable upstream plastic waste reduction solutions and efficacy of existing lifecycle analysis models for assessing the impact of plastic waste and metrics for sustainability. Tackling plastic waste is a priority of Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) of the Subcommittee on Research and Technology. Her legislation, the Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act would play an important role in addressing these issues.