January 14, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

Florida Rep. Caster, hosted a virtual town hall with climate crisis advocates and elected officials  from across USA on January 13, 2021. Rep. Cater is Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The Congressional report, Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America calls on Congress to build a clean energy economy that values workers, centers environmental justice, and is prepared to meet the challenges of the climate crisis.  The full report is available HERE.

According to the committee’s press release the Climate Crisis Action Plan calls on Congress to:

  • Grow Our Economy and Put Americans Back to Work in Clean Energy Jobs
  • Protect the Health of All Families
  • Make Sure Our Communities and Farmers Can Withstand the Impacts of Climate Change
  • Protect America’s Land and Waters for the Next Generation

“As elected officials we know how important federal funding is to help initiatives. While New York is leading with our Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) we need to partner again with Washington. Congress should see the climate crisis as an opportunity to build a more sustainable inclusive economy, which will be as resilient as it will be equitable,” said Félix W. Ortiz, New York Assistant Speaker, Army Veteran (Ret). who is on the Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) National Leadership Council. “The discussion with Rep. Castor was informative. Where we need federal assistance is with our energy grid. It’s clear our infrastructure needs to be build out to accommodate new renewable energy resources, many that are in rural areas far from grid access. Building a new National energy grid will employ millions in high paying jobs.”

EOPA helped with the virtual town hall. EOPA is a non-profit organization principally made up of current and former elected officials, who care deeply about protecting our planet, and people, from the dangers of climate change. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, trains lawmakers, shares critical climate change information, and connects elected officials to inspire strong environmental policy. 

Rep. Castor made it clear that once the new administration moves aggressively to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19, it will be time to rebuild our economy. One built on clean energy to help abate the climate crisis. She indicated that one of the first pieces of legislation will involve infrastructure to handle new clean energy resources.

“The infrastructure package will be the greenest that there has ever been. We will build on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and have new targeted legislation,” said Rep. Castor. “In order to achieve a 100 percent fossil free grid by 2035, will push for more solar and wind and alternative energy sources.”

President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 proved to be the stimulus plan needed to end the Great Recession. The ARRA package included specific funding for state governments, which all 50 states accepted. Importantly, the ARRA included $90 billion in clean energy investments and tax incentives. To get our economy back on track and Americans back to work, significant investment in states and the fast-growing clean energy sector will be needed again. 

In a recent poll, among Biden’s supporters, climate change consistently ranked a top issue. With a mandate from the American people to act on climate, elected officials must take action and fight for a livable planet. By a more than two-to-one margin, voters said that clean energy is a better source of jobs than fossil fuels. By an even bigger margin, they support Biden’s $2.5 trillion climate plan. In addition, three out of 5 Americans support phasing out oil

“At this moment we have an historic opportunity. Together we can rebuild, revitalize, and restructure our economy in a manner that puts people before profit — that rewards work rather than wealth — an inclusive, sustainable economy worthy of our ideals,” said Oregon State Representative Major Paul L. Evans USAF (Ret.), EOPA National Co-Chair. “After Congress funds state and local governments, they need to promote clean energy in the stimulus package that provides jobs for those hardest hit economically by COVID-19.”

As the country considers how to recover from the current pandemic economic recession, lawmakers have a choice between returning to fossil fuels or accelerating clean energy. For the health of the planet and people, and with needed jobs to spur economic growth, clean energy overwhelmingly wins out. According to a recent report from the University of Oxford, renewables are simply more labor-intensive than fossil fuels, thereby creating more jobs. 

“It’s time America stepped up to lead. People around the world are hungry for hope — hope for a future where their children can eat without want, breathe clean air, drink clean water and enjoy nature. We need to prioritize a clean energy economy, in order to save lives, livelihoods and the planet, as well as to stimulate our economy,” said New Mexican State Representative Debbie Sariñana, Air Force Veteran, EOPA National Co-Chair.   “Over this past year climate disasters have left little doubt at the enormity of the crisis. They’ve made the pandemic even more deadly. We are in a Climate Emergency and must act accordingly.”

While 2020 was the year climate change finally entered the political spotlight, the momentum had been building for years. The energy revolution is well underway. Over the last decade, the economics of climate change have undergone a radical shift.

Since 2009, the cost of wind power has dropped 71 percent, and the cost of solar power has dropped 90 percent. Since 2010, the cost of EV batteries has dropped 87 percent.

Factoring in savings on fuel and repairs, today’s EVs are cheaper over their lifetime than comparable gas-powered cars. Today, new wind and solar installations are as cheap or cheaper than new coal, gas and nuclear plants in most parts of the country.

Rep. Kathy Castor discussed what climate action looks like with the new Congress and a Biden administration, saying with a 50-50 Senate and a narrow margin in the House bipartisan work will be required.

“The environment used to be a bipartisan issue. Now that clean energy solutions have been proven to be job creators, I believe we’ll have members on the other side of the aisle who will work with us,” she said.

Rep. Castor is one of the House’s top climate voices on how we can work together to push action on the climate crisis.

The window is closing on opportunities for meaningful climate action. The climate emergency is accelerating more rapidly than most scientists anticipated. A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change warned existing carbon pollution will cause global temperatures to rise about 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels — with devastating consequences worldwide.

In 2020, 11,000 scientists from 153 countries came together to declare a climate emergency based on their report titled World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency. The same researchers now say an urgent massive-scale mobilization is necessary to address the human-caused global crisis. The findings that led to their conclusions in The Climate Emergency: 2020 in Review, were published in Scientific American on January 6.

Every effort must be made to reduce emissions and increase removals of atmospheric carbon in order to restore the melting Arctic. The adverse effects of climate change are much more severe than expected, and now threaten both the biosphere and humanity.

With the dismantling of scientific authority and the rollback of environmental safeguards over the past four years, we must pursue legislation and executive action that addresses the magnitude of the climate crisis.The Biden administration is expected to reverse many of Trump’s 84 completed environmental rollbacks and rescind many of the president’s executive orders on energy. One of Biden’s earliest expected executive orders would require that every government agency and department tackle climate change.

In The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice, President-elect Biden promises to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord immediately and sets the goal of achieving a 100 percent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050. 

“President-elect Biden will need support to create climate solutions from elected officials across the country. We’re honored to be participating in the town hall with Rep. Castor,” said Elected Officials to Protect America President, former Marine combat veteran, and ME State Legislator Alex Cornell du Houx. “Our communities and the world deserve urgent action. One way EOPA is already helping is with our Climate Emergency Letter that will support the President-elect to enact a National Climate Plan.”

EOPA’s online letter to President-elect Biden and Congress for a National Emergency Climate Plan has already been signed by over 165 elected officials from across the country.

The incoming President-elect Joe Biden and Congress will give America a fresh opportunity to work together to grow the economy while addressing the climate emergency.