Oped by State Rep. Park Cannon GA

March 8, 2022

Throughout the unfolding tragedy in Eastern Europe President Biden has exhibited strong leadership. His diplomacy has untied NATO and democratic nations around the globe. I appreciate his unwavering leadership, concise plans based on listening to the experts, and focus, regularly communicating with the public. He has affirmed strong, capable U.S. leadership. Now we must realize the opportunity a clean energy economy can give us, not only by abating the worst of the climate crisis ,but also by stopping the leverage autocratic nations have with their oil and gas exports over peaceful democracies.

As we’ve graphically witnessed in Ukraine the world’s continued fossil fuel dependency threatens sovereign democratic nations. While the world’s democracies united with many financial sanctions they could not unite against fossil fuel imports. It took until March 8th for America to stop Russian oil, gas and coal imports. That’s because Europe, on average, relies 40 percent on Russian fossil fuel exports, Germany 60 percent, thereby making sanctions harder to put in place.

Because fossil fuels have caused climate change, we face multiple interconnected existential crises that threaten our shared humanity, national security and planet. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said we must cut the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels in half by 2030 to avoid increasing devastation. The IPCC most recent devastating report made it clear that the world lags behind that goal because nations are not doing enough to progress a clean energy economy that would help bring environmental justice to economically depressed communities that need it the most. The “atlas” of climate disasters it reported on exhibits how mass migration will become the norm.

For decades systemic racism has suppressed and bullied Black and Brown people—from red-lining to making sure industrial sites are located in our backyards. We haven’t had an equal voice in our democracy for we’ve been prejudged. Around the world this story has been repeated in multiple ways. We need equality throughout the world. Without it democratic nations will falter. At home we must lead the way and start advancing environmental justice.

Our future is reliant on passage of the climate provisions the President has put forward in his Build Back Better agenda. It combines concrete actions to mitigate against climate change, rebuilds our economy and advances environmental justice—while paving the way for good-paying union jobs. 

Investing in people to improve their lives and livelihoods is always the right thing to do. As Franklin D. Roosevelt proved with the New Deal it grows the economy. Clean energy is the biggest job creator in our country’s energy sector, employing almost three times as many workers as the fossil fuel industry.

BBB’s Civilian Climate Corps builds on FDR’s program that gave dignity back to hundreds of thousands during the Depression. CCC can help right the injustices of the past by giving good paying jobs to those who are hardest hit by environmental racism. It will train hundreds of thousands to 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. BBB connects the dots between inequity, environment, and the economy to ensure no one is left behind on the path to a greener, more sustainable future.

BBB’s clean energy provisions, as the legislation now stands, would help us grow our clean energy economy—adding millions of jobs while bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. It would support more than 556,000 manufacturing jobs and more than 312,000 construction jobs annually.

According to the Clean Jobs America 2021, 71,111 people worked in Georgia’s clean energy sector in 2020. This includes 8,934 in renewable energy, 51,123 in energy efficiency, and 6,858 in clean vehicles. This sector in Georgia grew 9.9 percent between 2018 and 2020. BBB would stimulate that growth. From 2022 to 2030, according to the National Resource Defense Council, 3,000 to 6,900 clean energy jobs would be created annually in Georgia with BBB. Jobs GA desperately needs.

The BBB is the hopeful promise of a more inclusive America, one where one’s zip code doesn’t predetermine your future.

I urge Congress to pass the climate provisions in BBB to accelerate the world’s transition to a clean energy economy that will help secure the freedom of billions and unite us in a common goal of justice for all.