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Rep. McNerney Introduces Groundbreaking Geoengineering Bill

Dec 7, 2017
Press Release
First-of-its-Kind Legislation for a Federal Commitment to Geoengineering Research

Washington, DC – As the nation continues to grapple with historic flooding and wildfires, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) has introduced legislation to explore innovative options to combat the root cause of these intensifying natural disasters: climate change.

Last month, Congressman McNerney called for a hearing in the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology (SST) to collect information from experts in the field of geoengineering – which implements techniques to counteract the effects of climate change. Today, the Congressman has introduced H.R. 4586, the Geoengineering Research Evaluation Act. This legislation would provide for a federal commitment to the creation of a geoengineering research agenda and an assessment of the potential risks of geoengineering practices.

“We’ve reached a moment of clarity in the fight against climate change where we are experiencing the repercussions of the atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gasses,” said Congressman McNerney. “Even if human beings were to cease all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, significant atmospheric change has already been set in motion and will continue to occur for generations to come.”

The legislation, cosponsored by SST Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson, would commission the National Academies of Science (NAS) to produce two reports recommending a geoengineering research strategy and oversight principles for such research. These reports would build on two previously published NAS reports, which concluded that there is currently insufficient information to effectively deploy large-scale climate interventions.

“As with any scientific deployment, preliminary research that evaluates the potential opportunities and risks of implementation is necessary to ensure we are effectively combatting the targeted problem without risking the threat of another,” said Congressman McNerney. “This bill would authorize a rigorous review process to determine where we should make federal investments in this emerging research field, and how we should set up oversight of this research.”

The bill also provides for the creation of an implementation plan to ensure a path forward for additional geoengineering research and development.

“I want to commend Congressman McNerney for his efforts and leadership in developing this legislation,” said Ranking Member Johnson. “This bill is a thoughtful and logical approach to a complicated research field. The legislation will provide a pathway for the federal government to further pursue the research necessary to advance geoengineering as one potential method in our toolbox to address the impacts of climate change. However, geoengineering research must not be viewed as an excuse to relax our efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions. As we explore solutions to address this issue in our skies, we must not forget that reducing and eliminating carbon emissions starts on the ground.”

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Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.