House advances two key measures authored by DeGette to combat climate crisis and clean-up heavily polluted communities

Sep 24, 2020
Press Release
The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to include two key amendments authored by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) in a sweeping new clean-energy bill the chamber is expected to vote on this Friday.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to include two key amendments authored by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) in a sweeping new clean-energy bill the chamber is expected to vote on this Friday.

The first amendment, which seeks to directly address the worsening climate crisis, would limit the amount of methane gas that oil and gas producers operating on public lands are allowed to release into the atmosphere. The other, which has been championed by members of the Environmental Justice movement, would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify 100 communities across the country that are being most affected by nearby sources of pollution and take steps to clean them up.

“These aren’t radical ideas – these are commonsense solutions to very real problems facing our communities,” DeGette said. “If we are going to be serious about solving the climate crisis, we must take steps now to limit the amount of methane that’s being released into our atmosphere. At the same time, we have to do more to help the communities that are suffering the most from our inaction on climate change.”

The passage of DeGette’s methane waste provision – which she first introduced last year as the Methane Waste Prevention Act (H.R. 2711) – marks the first time that Congress has voted for specific limits on greenhouse gas emissions since 2009.

As a greenhouse gas, methane is approximately 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide and when it’s released into the atmosphere it becomes a leading contributor to global warming.

Since methane is also a key component of natural gas, and therefore a valuable natural resource, DeGette’s legislation would require that oil and gas drillers operating on public lands take steps to capture the methane that reaches the surface of their drilling sites, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere where it’s causing real harm.

Specifically, under the terms of DeGette’s provision, oil and gas drillers operating on public lands would be required to capture at least 85 percent of all gas produced at their sites within three years of enactment, and at least 99 percent of gas within five years. The amendment also puts an end to the industry’s controversial practices of venting of natural gas and flaring from any new wells. 

The second amendment DeGette authored, which the House approved today, seeks to help the growing number of environmental justice communities across the country.

“Communities like Elyria-Swansea and Globeville, two neighborhoods in my district, have been suffering for years from the pollution produced by nearby plants,” DeGette said. “This amendment will require that the EPA take steps now to help these communities and clean them up.”

DeGette’s legislation – which has now been included in the chamber’s broader energy bill – would require the EPA to identify 100 communities most affected by violations of environmental law and then work with those communities to help clean them up.

The House is now expected to vote on the broader energy bill, with DeGette’s amendments included, as early as Friday.

Full texts of the amendment can be found here: 

PDF iconFULL TEXT 100 COMMUNITIES AMENDMENT

PDF iconFULL TEXT DEGETTE METHANE AMENDMENT