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Pallone & Tonko Celebrate Climate and Environment Wins in Omnibus

Dec 21, 2020
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Climate Change and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) released the following joint statement today after the House of Representatives passed its end of year omnibus package, which included landmark legislation to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs):

“In our fight to stem the rising tide of catastrophic climate change, phasing down HFCs is one of the most consequential actions ever taken by Congress. With this action, the United States will lead the world in avoiding up to 0.5 degree Celsius of warming. HFCs are an extremely potent greenhouse gas, and empowering the Biden Administration to implement this phase down will position American industry to lead the global transition to cleaner alternatives and create tens of thousands of new manufacturing jobs here at home. We are likewise proud that the omnibus reauthorizes the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, a critical tool to reduce harmful emissions in communities disproportionately burdened by diesel pollution. In all, this legislation is a major step forward on the path toward a clean future and we are grateful to all our colleagues for helping us get it done.”

The omnibus directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs by 85 percent over 15 years. Enacting this provision will position the United States to lead the world in avoiding up to 0.5 degree Celsius of warming – a monumental achievement representing one of the greatest wins to address the climate crisis in a decade. A recent study by the University of Maryland found that a structured HFC phasedown will create 33,000 new high-quality manufacturing jobs, add $12.5 billion to our nation’s economy every year over the next decade, and make United States industry more competitive globally.

The bill also reauthorizes the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), a critical EPA grant program to improve air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines. DERA projects reduce vulnerable communities’ exposure to diesel pollution and the improved air quality provides immediate health benefits. To date, every federal dollar invested in DERA has leveraged as much as $3 from non-federal sources, and has generated up to $30 in public health benefits.

The final omnibus also included $638 million in grants to States and Indian Tribes to assist low-income households pay their water utility bills by providing funds to public water system operators to reduce rates and to pay off water debt. The funds will be made available to the water systems through a new Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Emergency Assistance Program that states can distribute via existing networks such as LIHEAP.