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Congress sets sights on climate change in Covid relief bill

Greg Icacuri

Originally published 12.22.20 – Updated 1.28.21


  • The Covid relief package would dramatically cut use of a planet-warming chemical found in refrigerants. It would also funnel billions into clean energy like wind and solar.
  • Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate minority leader, said the chemical-reduction measure was the “single biggest victory in the fight against climate change to pass this body in a decade.”

The coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress toughens rules around use of a common heat-trapping chemical and funnels billions of dollars into renewable energy.

The measures, attached to a year-end government funding bill, were hailed by some lawmakers as among the most significant Congress has approved to combat climate change in many years.

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The legislative package, which now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature, would cut the country’s production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons by 85% over 15 years.

The chemical, commonly used in refrigerants like air conditioners and refrigerators, traps heat more readily than planet-warming gases like carbon dioxide.

Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate minority leader, said last week that passing the chemical-reduction measure would be the “single biggest victory in the fight against climate change to pass this body in a decade.”

The bill also has measures promoting technology to capture and store carbon produced by manufacturing and power plants, and would cut diesel emissions from certain vehicles.

“All three of these measures will protect our air while keeping costs down for the American people,″ said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The bill also allocates $35 billion for clean energy power from wind, solar and other sources, according to The New York Times.

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