WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Climate change policy was front and center Wednesday as the House Natural Resources Committee debated two different bills aimed to combat the effects of global warming in the United States.
Chairman Raúl Grijalva’s H.R.5435 would require net-zero emissions from the nation’s public lands and oceans by 2040. The move would be a substantial drop in the amount of fossil fuel that is currently extracted.
“We have an urgent need to reduce these emissions in order to protect public health safety,” said California Democrat Mike Levin. Levin said drilling on public lands contributes 25% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
However, critics have argued clean energy can be a burden for low income communities. Colorado’s Joe Neguse said rural communities pay most of the cost of switching to clean energy.
“Coal mining states will obviously be impacted,” he said.
The Trillion Trees Act, a measure vowing to reduce carbon emissions by planting one trillion trees by 2050, aims to sequester a significant amount of atmospheric carbon, according to its sponsor Republican Arkansas Representative Bruce Westerman.
“Every American can support planting a tree,” said Westerman. “If we can connect that action with sustainability and carbon storage, we are one big step closer to solving a complex problem.”
The act, H.R.5859, was greeted with push-back from fellow Republican congressman Tom McClintock of California.
“It’s not clear to me where we’re going to fit more trees in the federal lands,” said McClintock.
Some Democrats also felt the bill doesn’t go far enough.
“We should plant trees, we should perfect cross-laminated timber…but we should not call these ‘climate solutions’ if we are using these strategies to continue deforestation,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif).