Rising Energy Prices, Climate-Fueled Disasters Require Urgent Renewable Energy Investment
July 14, 2022
WASHINGTON— Dozens of environmental and labor groups urged House and Senate leaders to increase funding for President Biden’s historic executive orders to spur domestic renewable energy production under the Defense Production Act.
The call comes as the country struggles to make progress on climate action. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia v EPA weakened the EPA’s ability to regulate power plants under the Clean Air Act. A slimmed down version of the Build Back Better Act, Biden’s landmark climate legislation, is stalled in Congress.
In June Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to manufacture solar panels, insulation and heat pumps. Biden’s plan encourages high labor standards tied to increased manufacturing. It also calls for boosting community-based clean energy and distributed generation.
A House Appropriations subcommittee recently appropriated $100 million toward Biden’s clean energy orders. While this is a positive first step, estimates show more than $100 billion is needed to meet the administration’s climate and clean electricity goals. That funding can catalyze the country’s manufacturing base and transform our energy system into one that is renewable and just. It would help put America on the road to energy independence from fossil fuels.
“The dual crises of rising energy prices, along with a cascade of climate impacts, demand immediate action for the health and wellbeing of every American. EOPA is inspired by President Biden’s leadership in invoking the DPA, however more investment than $100 million is needed in order to set the United States on a path to a 50-52% reduction in carbon pollution by 2030 — the goal scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change,” said Dominic Frongillo, executive director and cofounder of Elected Officials to Protect America. “President Biden can leverage DPA funds and the federal procurement budget of $650 billion per year to scale up clean energy technologies deployment. We are in a climate emergency, which is a national security risk. At least $100 billion should and could be allocated by the end of this fiscal year to help ensure the security of our nation and the world through building a clean energy economy.”
More than 1,000 organizations support the DPA orders, including the People vs. Fossil Fuels Coalition. Earlier this year U.S. Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jason Crow (D.-Colo.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Energy Security and Independence Act to direct $100 billion toward domestic renewable energy production, prioritizing investment in environmental justice and worker communities. The bill has more than 50 cosponsors and support from more than 80 organizations.
“Inflated energy prices coupled with an over-dependence on Russian fossil fuels threaten to derail global efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. Nations around the globe need to implement bold solutions to accelerate the climate crisis for the security of the world and their own energy independence. We can show the way with a significant investment of at least $100 billion for the DPA,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state representative, Marine combat veteran, president and cofounder of the Elected Officials to Protect America. “Ukraine underscores how dependency on fossil fuels fills the coffers of tyrants and dictators like Putin, and that a rapid transition to clean and renewable energy is not just necessary for our environment, but critical to our economic, national security and true energy independence.”
“We’re at a crisis point for our climate and our energy future, and we need action now,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity’s energy justice program. “Biden’s clean energy directives add urgency to the climate fight, but Congress must fully fund this to spur the just, renewable future we need. There’s no way to ramp up renewable energy production without the money to make it happen.”
“The DPA is meant for unusual, even extreme, circumstances like war, pandemics and national emergencies. We have never seen a greater threat to our country, indeed to the world, than the one posed by potentially catastrophic climate change,” said Todd Paglia, executive director of Stand.earth. “We need to invest as much as we can, as rapidly as we can, into renewable energy if we want to ensure the safety and security of our country and our planet.”
“Biden’s executive orders on climate can only be meaningful if Congress dedicates the funding to get the job done,” said Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh. “Using the Defense Production Act to supercharge America’s clean energy production is a critical step towards treating the climate crisis like a true emergency.”
“President Biden’s recent deployment of DPA to create secure, clean energy resources for all communities is sorely needed and we applaud him for these efforts,” said Art Terrazas, government affairs advocate for the League of Conservation Voters. “Now it is time for Congress to do its part to meet the moment on climate and provide the funding necessary for clean energy, justice, and jobs through a reconciliation package and strong FY23 appropriations so that we can grow the renewable energy manufacturing industry, deploy these needed resources across the country, and ensure that all communities benefit from lower energy costs today.”
“Congress must appropriate funds that match the needs laid out in President Biden’s forward-looking executive order,” said Karen Orenstein, director of the climate and energy justice program at Friends of the Earth U.S. “The cost of inaction is far more expensive and will be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, in the U.S. and worldwide.”
“Deploying DPA is a crucial tool in this crisis moment, as families struggle due to inflation and skyrocketing utility costs that have saddled them with debt. We urge Congress to fully fund DPA,” said Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, sustainable communities program director at GreenLatinos. “Latino/x households spend disproportionate amounts of their income on energy and are unrepresented in green jobs; along with other marginalized communities, we stand to benefit greatly from this investment in our shared energy future.”
“It’s great to see President Biden stepping up to the challenge of climate change by using his powers to advance renewable energy, create good jobs, and center environmental justice. However, the Defense Production Act is only effective if it is funded,” said Joe Uehlein, president of the Labor Network for Sustainability. “Congress must meet this moment and give these presidential orders the funding required to deploy this clean energy technology across the country.”
“Executive powers like the DPA can be incredibly useful, but only when supported with ample appropriations,” said Dorothy Slater, senior researcher with the Revolving Door Project. “We’re thankful to President Biden for unlocking this no-brainer tool and we urge Congress to provide the sufficient funding that is so desperately needed to speed the necessary transition to clean, renewable energy. We also emphasize the need for strong, long-term oversight of the use of these funds for environmentally just projects.”