Over 450 elected officials show their love for our nation and planet by urging the passage of the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act By Ramona du Houx On Valentine’s Day, over 450 elected officials from across the country showed their love for our nation and planet by urging the passage of the climate provisions in the Build Back […]
Over 450 elected officials show their love for our nation and planet by urging the passage of the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act
By Ramona du Houx
On Valentine’s Day, over 450 elected officials from across the country showed their love for our nation and planet by urging the passage of the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) during a virtual press conference. They also asked President Biden to take immediate action and issue a Climate Emergency Declaration and plan to phase out fossil fuels.
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) is a group of current and former elected officials who are committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. An EOPA letter, which over 450 lawmakers signed, supports a clean energy plan and asks for a climate emergency declaration. The BBBA’s climate plan and the EOPA clean energy plan match in many areas.
In 2021, every region of the United States experienced extreme weather. Deadly storms, heat waves, floods, drought and wildfires, made worse by the climate crisis, became regular headline news. The window is closing for significant action to curb fossil fuel pollution that is dangerously heating the planet.
A year ago, to meet this existential threat, President Joe Biden said he would develop a clean energy economy, hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, build more resilient communities, advance environmental justice, and reestablish America’s global leadership on this issue. His landmark $1 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Law set the foundation for the transition to a clean energy economy with investments in mitigation, research and development (R&D), and infrastructure to fight the climate crisis. It was the first major step. The climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) would be the next with its historic investments.
“The climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) include more than $550 billion for climate action and will put America on a path to dramatically cut fossil fuel emissions that drive the climate crisis while building a just and equitable economy with union jobs. EOPA urges passage of these climate provisions in this once-in-a-generation investment package to avoid a continued climate crisis and give workers long term opportunities in a clean energy economy,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state Representative, Marine combat veteran, President and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America. “Veterans know firsthand that the climate crisis is a national security threat. We love our country and ask the president to show his love by issuing a Climate Emergency Declaration and Plan to meet the challenges BBBA cannot address.”
The last seven years were the hottest on record. According to a new report from NOAA, in the USA at least 700 people died during 20 extreme weather disasters in 2021, totaling over $20 billion in costs.
Recent data shows that U.S. emissions are rising. Dirty fossil fuel power plants account for a third of our carbon footprint. They must completely stop adding more carbon to the atmosphere by 2050—in order to keep the climate crisis from becoming a catastrophe.
“The price of inaction far exceeds the action required, as globally millions of people die and unproductive farms are abandoned. We have no time to lose to mitigate the worst consequences of the climate crisis. BBBA investments in a carbon-free economy yield high returns and create high-wage, union jobs. With BBBA, we can grow our clean energy economy and set the United States on a path to a 50-52 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2030—the same goal scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change,” said Clair Brown, renowned economist, Berkeley, CA professor and author. “We must work together to save life as we know it. Our lives, our economy, and our national security depend on our meeting the existential threat of climate change. It doesn’t matter how well the stock market is doing if the planet is dying.”
According to a NASA study, health gains from climate mitigation policy would be worth trillions of dollars and would materialize fast enough to outweigh any costs of energy transition in a decade or less. Because of the billions that will be allocated to climate change, key Wall Street economists think the BBBA will be another big deal for the infrastructure industry adding to the bipartisan Infrastructure law. Economists at Goldman Sachs, Evercore ISI, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan have all written that they believe the BBBA could mean a business boom for some of the country’s biggest construction and materials companies.
“We need swift passage of the climate portions in the Build Back Better Act to make the necessary investments in our people and planet that will help mitigate the climate crisis,” said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America, former Councilmember and Deputy Supervisor Caroline, New York. “President Biden also needs to enact a Climate Emergency Declaration and Plan to phase out fossil fuels. Even with BBBA, urgent action must be taken to move more rapidly away from using dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources for all our energy needs. The powers of the Presidential office would enable him to achieve this goal with a just transition for workers. The Declaration will help other elected officials at home and abroad to meet this global existential challenge with more immediacy. Time is running out. Our nation’s leaders must show their love for America, as we do in our daily climate crisis fight.”
In 2021, President Biden mandated that every government agency prioritize climate change, and earmarked 40 percent of government investments for underserved communities in need of environmental justice. The president’s actions on environmental justice marked a critical first step towards addressing decades of systematic environmental racism.
“The Build Back Better Act combines concrete actions to mitigate against climate change, and significantly advances environmental justice — while paving the way for family-sustaining, union jobs. We’re working on transforming Ventura county to become a leader in the clean energy economy, but we could do so much more with federal support of our tax dollars. In every part of our county, we need to make the substantial investment the climate provisions of the BBBA would bring,” said Carmen Ramirez, Ventura County Supervisor, EOPA California Leadership Council. “We are here showing our love and concern for our people, states, our country and planet as we work to mitigate the climate crisis. Now we ask our nation’s leaders to do the same and pass the climate provisions of the Build Back Better Act. President Biden as a climate leader should issue a National Climate Emergency Declaration thereby motivating local, state, national and international leaders to take the bold action necessary.”
A Department of Energy (DOE) study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. Modernizing America’s electric grid with a diverse portfolio of renewable energy sources is of national security importance. With more clean energy sources available to feed into the grid —our nation and economy will be more secure.
“The climate crisis is a clear and present danger. We must take bold steps to mitigate this existential threat. Failure is not an option. We’re the United States of America. We do big things.For instance, the 1935 Rural Electrification Act resulted in increasing electricity access to U.S. farms from 10 percent to over 90 percent in less than two decades. Enacting the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act would be the next big thing” said Joel Hicks, Councilmember Borough of Carlisle, PA, Veteran, EOPA National Leadership Council.
According to the State of Nevada Climate Initiative, wildfires burned more than 200,000 acres in 2021. Reno and Las Vegas are the fastest-warming cities in the nation.
“Nevada is ground zero for the climate crisis. People in the Reno area couldn’t breathe fresh air for two months because of wildfire smoke last summer. Lake Mead is at all-time lows, triggering the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River. Heat-related illness and death is on the rise. We have to take on the underlying and amplifying factor for all these problems: climate change. That means reducing emissions as much as possible, as fast as possible, in a way that works equitably for all. That’s why we need the climate provisions in the BBBA,” said Howard Watts, Nevada Assemblyman, EOPA National Leadership Council. “Our state is second in solar jobs per capita, and we’re ready to lead the nation’s new clean energy economy. The climate action in the BBBA would create an estimated 4,600 skilled union jobs over the next first five years of implementation in Nevada. We can’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to create good jobs while saving lives and livelihoods.”
According to the EPA the transportation sector is the largest contributor of carbon pollution in the U.S., and the prime contributor to air pollution that poses major risks to public health and premature death, especially in communities of color and low income. These communities continue to suffer from systemic racism and environmental injustice. They also tend to be located in areas most susceptible to deadly heat waves, flooding and other extreme weather events. BBBA has funds that will help these communities.
By creating almost $300 billion in tax incentives for utilities to move toward clean energy generation, utilities would invest more in plants and equipment that generate renewable energy.
Arizona is currently the fourth-fastest warming state in the country based on warming rates since 1970, and averages more than 50 dangerous heat days a year, the second highest in the nation.
“More than 200,000 people living in Arizona are critically vulnerable to extreme heat. We must stop this threat that unchecked will produce 80 dangerous heat days a year by 2050. While Phoenix set a goal to reach net-zero by 2050, and we have targets for electric transportation, it’s clear additional support from the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act will accelerate our transition from dirty fossil fuels that are the root cause of extreme heat,” said Yassamin Ansari, Phoenix City Councilwoman, EOPA National Leadership Council. “Additionally employment opportunities in clean energy, renewable manufacturing, infrastructure revitalization, and a Civilian Climate Corps would grow union jobs, and provide Phoenix with a substantial economic boost. It’s time to build back better.”
The BBBA’s Civilian Climate Corps would create hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs to help secure a stable climate for all. CCC would build healthy and safe communities that are resilient to storms and floods, expand access to renewable energy, weatherize buildings and install electric vehicle charging stations.
To make electric vehicles (EVs) more available for Americans the BBBA would extend and expand tax credits for businesses and consumers. EV production is projected to increase. Buyers of electric vehicles would receive up to $12,500 in tax credits.
Extreme flooding and hurricanes are becoming the norm in North Carolinians.
“Our citizens are put at unnecessary risk when we have the tools to mitigate the climate crisis. This is the defining challenge of our era. We must fight it with environmental justice becoming a reality. We need the path provided with the enactment of the Build Back Better climate provisions. These investments would dramatically cut fossil fuel pollution which drives the climate crisis, while building a just and equitable economy,” said Natalie Murdock, North Carolina State Senator, EOPA National Leadership Council. “Communities that have been systematically neglected need the transformative change the BBBA could bring. This is the hopeful promise of a more inclusive America, one where one’s zip code doesn’t predetermine your future.”
New York is the fourth most populous American state and has its third-largest economy. Its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) requires New York to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 — putting the state on a path toward carbon neutrality.
“New York is a demonstrated leader in advancing innovative policies that will create a more equitable clean energy economy. However, our communities are still vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. Communities of color and low-income have contributed the least to environmental pollution and the climate crisis, yet they suffer the most,” said William Reinhardt, Albany County Legislator, EOPA New York Leadership Council. “We are making progress, $29.5 million was recently awarded to the Port of Albany for its Offshore Wind Tower Manufacturing Project. It will be one of the first large-scale offshore wind tower manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and is expected to create about 500 construction jobs and 550 manufacturing and support jobs. This is the kind of ongoing support the state needs from the federal government to see substantive change. The climate provisions of the Build Back Better Act would allow us to cut pollution in half by 2030, establish millions of good paying clean energy jobs, and support climate adaptation efforts in our communities. They must become law. Only then will we truly be on the road to an inclusive, clean energy economy.”
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientific report said significant reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses could help global temperatures stabilize. For that to become a reality we must act now. If we don’t, the national security threat will rise.
“Any nation that suffers from extreme natural disasters has its national security threatened,” said Paul L. Evans, Oregon State Representative Major, USAF Major (Ret.), EOPA Leadership Council Co-Chair. “While lawmakers across the nation are making strides to protect their own constituents with clean energy solutions and resiliency plans, extreme weather has no borders. Critical action on the federal level to mitigate the climate crisis is imperative. That starts with Congress passing the climate provisions in President Biden’s Build Back Better Act (BBBA).”