Hello everyone! This week’s post relates to environmental legislation in the US, but not in the way you might initially think. You may recall that the game-changing Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was passed this summer, having formally been signed into law by President Biden. Now, if you don’t really follow along with the news, you might be thinking that such an impactful bill essentially came out of nowhere, and you might also be questioning why the US doesn’t really focus on creating environmental legislation. However, if you know a thing or two about the legislative system here, you’ll know that the process to enact any bill is long, tedious, and complicated, and what’s more, only a mere fraction of them make it to either chamber of Congress for discussion, let alone being signed into law. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost – there’s always a member of Congress that is proposing new bills, especially those focused on protecting the environment. Today, we’ll be looking at a list of 5 of the most promising bills pending enactment in the United States to keep your eye on.
- Recycling and Composting Accountability Act
We’re starting off strong with Sen. Thomas Carper’s (D-DE) Recycling and Composting Act (introduced on 3/3/22), which, as the name suggests, primarily looks to boost and expand the nation’s recycling and composting programs in an effort to popularize the respective reusing movements. Thankfully, this bill already passed the Senate in July, and is currently being considered by the House – Skopos Labs predicts that it has a 47% chance of being enacted into law, which is considerably high when you take the high “kill rate” of bills into account. If it becomes law, the act has great potential to shift the nation’s composting / recycling narrative to be beneficial. Despite potential drawbacks, composting and recycling are both amazing ways to combat the gigantic amounts of waste that have amassed on the planet – the more federal attention they are given, the better. I definitely hope this one is successful!
- Recovering America’s Wildlife Act of 2021
On 4/22/21, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) brought forward a proposal to increase the amount of funding allocated to state management of animal species that require prioritized conservation – the requirements for such are in the hands of the states themselves and other wildlife agencies. This amendment to the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act has successfully made it past the House on 6/14/22, and despite it only having a 13% chance of enactment, President Biden has shown his support for the bill, so things are looking good! Wildlife conservation is an issue not commonly paid attention to, but is arguably one of the most important ones – after all, all of Earth’s inhabitants benefit each other, including us humans! This bill, and the love it shows our animal friends, is for sure something to keep your eye on.
- National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act
There are two versions of this bill – one that was introduced into the House by Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) on 1/20/22, and one that was introduced into the Senate by Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE) on the same date. While the House version hasn’t really gotten anywhere, the Senate version has passed committee approval, and has been sent to the Senate as a whole for consideration. The National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act is pretty self-explanatory – it seeks the ordered creation of an overall national strategy to combat pre-existing climate change and prevent it from furthering. As you all know by now, climate change is one of the biggest issues to plague our world today, and requiring the federal government to map out a general plan to fight it, holding them largely accountable for the mitigation movement is by far a big step in the right direction. Hoping for all the best here!
- Ocean Acidification Innovation Act of 2021
This bill may not seem as important to the others on the list but the issue it discusses, ocean acidification, holds a special place in my heart, so I just had to bring it up. Introduced by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) on 11/9/21, this bill (which is still in the introductory stage) aims to create a program that “awards prizes competitively for innovative efforts to research or respond to ocean acidification.” This is a genius way to incentivize not only research, but action against ocean acidification, a long-ignored issue that has the potential to be even more disastrous than climate change itself! (You can read more about it in this blog post.) That’s an important thing to keep in mind – yes, research on anything is necessary, but there comes a point where we progress further and start working to fix the issues we already know are dangerous, and we do it now. And, nowadays most people are pushed to act with rewards – that’s what this bill is going to do, so it definitely has my approval.
- Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act
To end the list, I present to you with Rep. Haley Stevens’s (D-MI) Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Research Act. Brought into the House on 4/22/21, the act looks to oversee a new federal program focused on the reduction of plastic waste and additional recycling research. Recycling is a great thing to do, but I feel that if you could only recycle one material for the rest of your life, that it would be plastic, particularly because it takes so, so long to naturally break down, and it’s just overall not a great thing, but I’m sure you’ve heard me say it a million times. Having a federal initiative solely dedicated to plastics recycling and innovative research will most certainly be a big game changer in the reusable world, given that it progresses from its current introductory stage.
Well, that’s all for today! I hope that at least one of these bills awaiting enactment in the US caught your interest – maybe enough so that you want to do something to guarantee that they become law. No need to fear, for the Humane Society has created the best beginner’s guide to congressional lobbying, a skill that is arguably one of the most important rights us everyday citizens have besides voting. Make sure to refer to the guide so that you are well prepared to tell your elected representatives what you feel the nation needs. Trust me, they listen! Until next time, dear readers – stay safe and healthy!