What’s in the Senate Democrats’ new climate plan

August 26, 2020
Surprise! In the middle of an abnormally busy August recess, Senate Democrats released a new climate plan—and it echoes some of BIO’s policy proposals. We have the details, plus a coronavirus vaccine clock update, in around 800 words, 4 minutes.
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Surprise! In the middle of an abnormally busy August recess, Senate Democrats released a new climate plan—and it echoes some of BIO’s policy proposals. We have the details, plus a coronavirus vaccine clock update, in around 800 words, 4 minutes.

What’s in the Senate Democrats’ new climate plan

Yesterday, Senate Democrats unveiled a new report detailing how they plan to tackle climate change if they win control of the Senate in November. Here’s the scoop.

From the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, The Case for Climate Action: Building a Clean Economy for the American People is a 260-page report with a plan for tackling climate change and building the bioeconomy.  

There’s a lot for the biotech industry to support in the report, including:

  • Support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Low-Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS). “Advanced and cellulosic biofuels, coupled with carbon capture and storage technologies, have the potential to serve as alternatives to fossil fuels if we continue investing in their development,” they said (page 57 of the report).
  • “Building soil health and storing carbon” by "supporting research and development that hones methods and easy-to-use tools for measuring stored carbon" and creating carbon markets to incentivize farmers and rangers to utilize new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (page 110 of the report).
  • “Growing the biobased economy” to “reduce emissions and bolster rural economies" by transitioning to “biobased fuels and chemicals that replace fossil fuel-based products” which emit fewer emissions and are less hazardous to human and environmental health (page 115 of the report). 

Biotech has already developed the tools to support the implementation of these ideas—like clean, biobased fuels, chemicals, and plastic alternatives, technologies to sequester carbon in the soil, and innovations like gene editing to make crops more resilient, to name just a few.

But policy needs to catch up. BIO has long called for building on the success of the RFS to develop clean fuel standards nationally and in the states. We’ve also supported initiatives to boost farm conservation practices to improve soil health and store carbon, such as the Growing Climate Solutions Act, as well as policies to advance the bioeconomy.

During her recent speech at the DNC's Leaders of American Agriculture event, BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath talked about why this is so important:

We’ve seen the connection between a lack of environmental justice and COVID mortality. We’ve watched people in underserved, polluted communities—who are more likely to have illnesses like asthma—succumb to these very respiratory illnesses upon which COVID preys. I joined BIO in June at the peak of the pandemic and at the peak of national protests about social and racial injustice. As BIO CEO, I will bring the perspective of a medical doctor and a researcher who has committed my life to science and public health. And as bad as this pandemic has been, it pales in comparison to what awaits us if we don’t take bold and drastic action to combat climate change. 

Read the full report.

Want to learn more about biotech innovations to feed, fuel, and heal the planet? Register for BIO IMPACT Digital on September 21-22, 2020, our virtual education and partnering event for the global agriculture and environment biotech industry.


More Ag & Environment News:

Agri-Pulse: Biden hits Trump over Renewable Fuel Standard delays, waivers
"In a statement exclusive to Agri-Pulse, Biden slammed Trump’s delay in announcing annual volume targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal law setting biofuel blending targets for the nation’s fuel supply, and for issuing waivers from the mandate to small oil refineries."

 
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It’s 6 AM on the coronavirus vaccine clock

USA Today has once again updated their coronavirus vaccine clock. The experts—including BIO’s own Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath—are optimistic, but say there’s still a lot of work to do. 

If the start of the pandemic is midnight, and a return to normal is noon, what time is it today? We’ve now hit 6 AM, according to experts who spoke to USA Today. (They said we were at 4 AM in June, so we’ve made progress.)

 
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USA Today Vaccine Clock August 2020

Vaccine candidates are moving swiftly through clinical trials—and at least 10 are already in phase 3, the final clinical trial stage before approval. (You can see everything in the works on the BIO COVID-19 Therapeutic Development Tracker.) 

But the experts say there’s still a lot of work to do, specifically determining “who will get it first, how doses will be shipped, and what messages the government must send so Americans trust getting one,” says USA Today.

Dr. Michelle’s Diagnosis: It is vital that the U.S. government communicate clearly with the American people about the data and science behind any new COVID-19 vaccine. – BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath

Learn more about how BIO and our members are tackling COVID-19 at www.bio.org/coronavirus.

 

More Health Care News: 

Bloomberg: FDA’s Hahn vows to stick to the science amid vaccine pressure
“I would not participate in any decision that was made on anything other than the science,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in an interview. 

McKinsey: Women in healthcare: Moving from the front lines to the top rung
“Our analysis shows women in health care have made progress and continue to report high job satisfaction. However, women also encounter persistent obstacles to advancement, particularly for senior positions, where they remain underrepresented,” said McKinsey in a new report.

 
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President Trump’s Wednesday: Intelligence briefing, then meeting with medical professionals about COVID-19.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: VP Mike Pence, who heads up the Coronavirus Task Force, will headline Day 3 of the virtual RNC. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is also slated to speak this evening.

 
 
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