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Environmental science and policy students start their summer policy analysis seminar

Environmental science and policy students start their summer policy analysis seminar

Via Alison Day
|June 23, 2021

photo: David Majoro

Columbia University student Environmental Science and Policy Public Administration Master’s Program They have just started their Applied Earth System Management Seminar in 2022. The students conducted an in-depth analysis of a proposed but not yet promulgated U.S. federal, state, or local legislation during this summer seminar.

The five teams in this year’s cohort were all assigned different legislations for review under the guidance of teacher advisors. Every week, a briefing from the team reports to other teams their findings on different issues related to the implementation of the bill, such as the environmental issues being addressed by the legislation, the science behind the issues, and the solutions to the proposed issues.

Each seminar team worked in accordance with the designated legislation throughout the summer semester so that they could understand the bill from the inside out and upside down. Legislation under the microscope this year involves identifying environmentally just communities, financial support for clean energy projects, water and habitat cleanup, the proliferation of plastic waste, and agricultural carbon emissions.

HR 516: Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act of 2021

One of the many unfortunate realities of the climate crisis is Won’t affect everyone the same. Environmental justice communities are those communities that are disproportionately negatively affected by climate change and other environmental issues. Historically, the United States did not have a comprehensive central registry of environmental justice communities.

Professor-led workshop team Louise Rosen The Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act of 2021 will be reviewed, which promises to create an up-to-date database of vulnerable communities maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the bill, a committee composed of several different federal agencies will be responsible for determining and directing investment in these communities.

Through the legislation to identify environmentally just communities, climate resilience and pollution reduction investments can be used where they are most needed.

HR 806: Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator Act

The transition to renewable energy is arguably one of the most important steps that must be taken to avoid catastrophic warming of the planet. However, finding funding for renewable energy projects can be a major obstacle.

The “Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator Act” will strengthen the United States as a leader in renewable energy by providing financial support for low-emission and zero-emission projects.The bill will be reviewed by professors Steven CohenWorkshop team.

The non-profit companies established by the bill will invest in clean energy projects and start-ups through a series of plans. The bill also stipulates that 40% of the investment will be used in communities that are disproportionately affected by climate change.

With this bill, the United States will be one step closer to the transition to a fair and clean energy economy.

HR 610: San Francisco Bay Restoration Act

San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary in North America. It has an extremely diverse ecosystem, rich human history, and is a popular recreational place. Unfortunately, human development in and around the area is reducing the environmental quality of the Gulf. Some examples are shipping pollution, agricultural runoff, and the detection of flame-retardant chemicals in the bay, which can cause nerve damage.

professor Howard ApsanThe seminar team of the will review the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act, which is proposed as an amendment to the Clean Water Act to address these environmental issues by focusing on habitat restoration, protection, and improvement. The San Francisco Bay Restoration Act will achieve its goals based on the work already done by stakeholders in the counties and cities of the San Francisco Bay.

The bill provides funding for four key areas: habitat restoration and protection, prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution, adaptation to climate change, and ensuring a fair solution to the problems facing the San Francisco Bay.

S. 984: Get rid of the Plastic Act in 2021

As we all know, the United States produces more plastic waste than any other country, but what is less known is that less than 10% of the plastic waste in the United States is collected domestically for recycling, while about 50% of the plastic waste in the United States is shipped overseas.

The 2021 Eradication of Plastic Products Act goes beyond solving the huge problem of plastic waste.professor Robert CookThe seminar team will review this comprehensive bill covering a wide range of issues, including the standardization of single-use plastic packaging, recycling and non-flush labeling requirements, and research on microfiber contamination.

The bill has several parts, each of which provides a solution for how the federal government can change the unhealthy relationship between the United States and plastics. Some of the more innovative solutions contained in the bill require plastic producers to establish non-profit organizations responsible for plastic waste management, reduce green bleaching by banning non-compostable bags from being dyed green or brown, and provide grants for innovative projects Reduce plastic waste.

S. 1072: Climate Management Act

Agriculture has always been an important aspect of tackling the climate crisis. Traditional agricultural practices lead to carbon emissions and poor management of forests and coastal areas that are critical to capturing carbon. In addition, the impact of environmentally unfriendly agriculture often disproportionately affects low-income, indigenous and minority communities.

professor Matt PalmerThe seminar team will analyze the Climate Management Act, which aims to improve the health of important ecosystems in order to reduce and capture carbon emissions.exceed Nature-based solutions, The bill also focuses on employment development, employment of American youth, and attaches great importance to diversity, fairness and inclusiveness in the process of seeking solutions.

Some notable programs under the bill include funding for socially disadvantaged farmers and first-time farmers, extensive reforestation efforts, and coastal wetland restoration. All of these aspects are necessary to improve the ability of the United States to respond to the effects of climate change.

* * *

On June 30th, the seminar team will each release an interim briefing, introducing their progress in the science behind the research team’s bill. The final briefing will follow on August 11th, which will be the culmination of their summer analysis. These briefings will be open to the public and will participate in a virtual way.RSVP Here is the mid-term briefing with This is the final briefing.

Although these bills may not be signed into law in reality, the workshop team’s work on these legislation will continue into the fall because they simulate the implementation of these bills.

Allison Day is an alumnus of the 2021 Environmental Science and Policy Project MPA.

If you are interested in learning more about the MPA-ESP program, please contact Assistant Director Stephanie Hoyt (

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