WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House passed legislation this week intended to help the environment by phasing out the use of coolants and promoting the development of renewable energy.
H.R. 4447, dubbed the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, passed by a vote of 220 to 185 on Thursday. Democratic Reps. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose and Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto both voted in favor of the bill.
“It’s no secret that we’ve been seeing increasingly devastating wildfires and disruptive power outages in California that impact millions of families,” Lofgren said. “I’m pleased that the House, under the leadership of Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, rightfully advanced a package of bipartisan bills to address these issues while importantly modernizing America’s energy infrastructure and investing in a clean energy future for all communities.”
In addition to phasing out hydrofluorocarbons — industrial chemicals commonly used for cooling and refrigeration — the bill would set new energy efficiency standards for buildings and provide approximately $36 billion to speed up the electrification of the transportation sector.
It would also require the Environmental Protection Agency to research the impacts of air pollution from wildfires and the Centers of Excellence for Wildfire Smoke to study the health effects on outdoor workers.
The legislation included multiple provisions from Lofgren, such as the analysis of public safety power shutoff events and the creation of a workforce program for grid resilience technology, according to a news release from her office.
“With measures to help ensure service predictability while, at the same time, providing emergency backup power, we’re looking out for homeowners and businesses,” Lofgren said.
Seven Republicans approved the bill while 18 Democrats voted down the measure, including Rep. Ro Khanna of Fremont. Khanna took to social media shortly after the vote to explain his stance.
“I support the sections on renewables, modernization and environmental justice,” he wrote on Twitter. “But this bill increased federal subsidies for fossil fuels. The last thing we should subsidize with taxpayer (money) is the fossil fuel industry. … We can do better than this.”
Khanna explained he also wanted the legislation to include the expansion of nuclear power and carbon capture programs. The congressman has previously voiced support for the Green New Deal, a far-reaching plan embraced by the more progressive wing of the Democratic party that aims to entirely eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions.
Some representatives objected to H.R. 4447 altogether. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) voiced his opposition to the bill this week on the House floor. The congressman said it ignored the priorities of rural Americans who depend on affordable energy for their productivity and livelihoods.
“This bill does not do what is required to rebound our economy and drive clean innovation the American way,” he said. “The key to expanding clean energy and creating prosperous jobs in America is to reduce the barriers to building infrastructure and to deploying innovative new technologies that will ensure reliable, affordable energy for the economy.”
Contact Katie King at [email protected] or follow @KatieKingCST on Twitter.