EPIC Endorses Senate Bill for Investigating and Measuring the Environmental Impacts of AI

February 1, 2024

EPIC endorsed a Senate bill called the Artificial Intelligence Environmental Impacts Act of 2024 that seeks to quantify the environmental impact of artificial intelligence so that lawmakers, the public, and companies can understand an opaque but important part of AI’s impact on the world. The Act instructs the Environmental Protection Agency to study the environmental impacts of artificial intelligence, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop measurement and reporting standards and a voluntary reporting system for companies.

As detailed in EPIC’s Generating Harms report, experts agree that not enough is known about AI’s environmental impact, but it is likely large and harmful given the vast amounts of energy and water needed to run the data centers that train and house AI systems.

In a press release announcing the bill’s introduction, Senator Edward Markey (D–Mass.) quoted EPIC Deputy Director Caitriona Fitzgerald saying, “The public deserves to know the very basics about how AI tools affect our material world. By creating transparency around AI’s impact on our environment, the Artificial Intelligence Environmental Impacts Act of 2024 will give the public and policymakers a tool for pressuring technology companies to develop their products in line with our collective health and safety.”

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