Inside the Greenhouse is a monthly newsletter about FCNL’s environmental work, ways to engage members of Congress, and stories that impact our work.
Energy Legislation Included in FY21 Spending Package
The most significant win was a commitment to reduce use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% over 15 years. HFCs are used in air conditioning and refrigerators but are a powerful greenhouse gas–1,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Meeting this target could help avoid around half a degree Celsius of global warming.
The spending bill also included $35 billion for clean energy research, extended tax credits for wind and solar development, and reauthorization for the Weatherization Assistance Program. The program reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.
We are excited to see the bipartisan nature of the FY21 spending package and its energy legislation. We remain committed to pushing for continued action on energy and climate change in the 117th Congress.
Construction Continues on Tar Sands Pipeline
Community resistance continues to grow as construction speeds up for the Line 3 pipeline in northern Minnesota. The American Birkebeiner, the largest American cross-country ski race, has dropped Enbridge as a corporate sponsor, and protestors have been resisting on the ground. On Jan. 9, 300 water protectors gathered at a site on the Mississippi River where drilling was to start, and eight were arrested.
While the pandemic worsens and lawsuits opposing the pipeline move through the courts, FCNL calls on President-elect Joe Biden to prioritize a stay on construction in his first days in office. Read more in our December update.
In 2021, there are 14 senators in the Climate Solutions Caucus.
News and Updates
Lease Sales Occur for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
On Jan. 6, the Trump administration sold leases for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)—land that is home to the Gwich’in people. Turnout was lower than expected. Two small companies got a lease each; the rest went to the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA). FCNL remains opposed to oil exploration and development in ANWR.
Record Billion-Dollar Climate Disasters in 2020
In a year tied for the warmest on record, the United States had 22 major weather and climate-related disasters. Each inflicted damages of more than $1 billion, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In total, those disasters accounted for $95 billion in damages and killed 262 people.
The New York Times has more on the year in climate, including an overview of the impacts of pollution on COVID-19 and the intersections of racial and environmental inequality.
New Report Highlights the Health Impacts of Climate Change
The climate crisis is a public health threat. Rising temperatures, extreme weather, and air quality impacts from fossil fuels are leading to increases in heat stroke, cardiovascular illnesses, and water-borne diseases. Many of the states most vulnerable to climate-related health impacts are also the least prepared to handle them. A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) highlights these shortfalls and the need for transformational change through climate adaptation.
As the new Congress settles in and the Biden administration takes office, there are new opportunities to raise awareness of the need for a price on carbon. We are keeping an eye on carbon pricing legislation and will ask for your support in the coming weeks.