EOPA is grateful to Pres. Biden for 2021 climate crisis work - but say it's time for bolder action with BBBA and Climate Emergency Declaration

EOPA, an organization of thousands of U.S. elected officials, urges immediate passage climate portion of the Build Back Better Act

This past year, every region of the United States has experienced extreme weather with deadly storms, heat waves, floods, drought or wildfires made worse by the climate crisis. The window is closing for significant action to curb fossil fuel pollution that is dangerously heating the planet, with the last seven years being 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.

President Joe Biden aims to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030—the pace that scientists say the whole world must follow to keep the planet from warming more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution. That’s the threshold beyond which scientists say catastrophic events will become more frequent.

A year ago, to meet the existential threat of the climate crisis, President 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.

“We thank and congratulate the President for some significant accomplishments of his climate agenda in 2021, especially the Infrastructure Law. However, it’s not nearly enough to meet his goal of hitting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — to keep extreme weather from becoming the norm that would devastate lives and livelihoods globally. “We need to swiftly pass the climate portions in the Build Back Better Act (BBBA)”, said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America, former Councilmember and Deputy Supervisor Caroline, New York. “We also urge President Biden to enact a Climate Emergency Declaration and Plan to swiftly transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy, to show the way for other elected officials at home and abroad. In this global crisis, America must lead.” 

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. EOPA sees that with BBBA, there will  be more opportunities in the clean energy fields than ever before. 

President Biden’s $1 trillion bipartisanInfrastructure Law set the stage for the transition to a clean energy economy with investments in mitigation, research and development (R&D), and infrastructure to fight the climate crisis.

“The President successfully laid the groundwork with the Infrastructure Law to move forward with a clean energy economy. Build Back Better Act (BBBA) combines concrete actions to mitigate against climate change, and advances environmental justice — while paving the way for good-paying, union jobs,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state Representative, Marine combat veteran, President of the Elected Officials to Protect America and Co-Founder. “EOPA urges passage of the BBBA climate provisions in this once-in-a-generation opportunity to avoid a worsening climate crisis and give workers lifetime opportunities in a clean energy economy.”

BBBA invests over $550 billion to aggressively combat the climate crisis, and cut emissions in half over the next decade.

Now is the time for the Build Back Better Act

Because of the billions that will be allocated to fight the climate crisis from BBBA, key Wall Street economists think it will be another big deal for the infrastructure industry adding to the bipartisan infrastructure law, passed in the fall. 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.

Recent data shows that U.S. emissions are rising. This is likely our last moment to mitigate the worst consequences of the climate crisis, but time is running out.

“The climate crisis is the defining challenge of our era. We must fight it with environmental justice becoming a reality. BBBA will put America on a path to dramatically cut fossil fuel pollution that drives the climate crisis, while building a just and equitable economy. Communities that have been systematically neglected need the transformative change BBBA could bring with good paying union jobs and breathable air,” said Delegate Danielle Walker, Charleston, WV. “This is the hopeful promise of a more inclusive America, one where one’s zip code doesn’t predetermine your future.” 

BBBA would bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. It would support more than 556,000 manufacturing jobs and more than 312,000 construction jobs annually.

“Gov. Youngkin could try to repeal the Virginia Clean Economy Act. He just issued an executive order to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which brought in over $227 million in our first year as a member. Extreme weather doesn’t choose one political party over another. Clean energy initiatives need to be long-term. While the Infrastructure Law will provide the Commonwealth with about $7 billion for highway programs and more than $500 million for bridge replacement and repairs to prepare for the impacts of climate change, we need further investments,” said Mike Turner, District Supervisor for Ashburn, Virginia, Air Force Veteran, EOPA National Leadership Council.  “Gas emissions from cars and trucks are the leading cause of Northern Virginia’s air pollution. Our top climate priority is to switch to electric vehicles and public transportation but we’ll need federal funds from the climate section of BBBA to get us there.”

RGGI is the region’s successful cap-n-trade program. Over$4.7 billion has been raised to date for RGGI states to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency programs.

“The United States is the richest country on earth, but there are still communities living in impoverished conditions. Arizona already averages 50 dangerous heat days per year, the second-highest of any state in the country. As the climate crisis worsens, bringing drought, wildfire, and extreme heat, those conditions become more desperate, with tribal communities some of the hardest hit,” said Jamescita Peshlakai, member of the Navajo tribe and the Tangle People Clan, former Arizona State Senator, US Army Veteran. We are being disproportionately harmed by climate change and the extreme weather this crisis is fueling. Every day, we are fighting to hold onto our culture, community, and sacred spaces. The climate section of BBBA is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to combat this crisis. This monumental legislation will make life better for Indigenous communities and for all Americans.”

“There was a day when political parties could agree on policies, realizing the urgency of the issue. Protecting the environment used to be that way. Now, more than ever, we need to work together because people’s lives, our economy, and national security depend on us meeting the existential threat of climate change. It doesn’t matter how high the Dow Jones Industrial Average is if the planet is dying, or not habitable for human beings. I fear we’re nearing that point,” said Rep. Timothy Horrigan, Strafford, NH. “The climate section of the Build Back Better Act will cut pollution in half by 2030, establish millions of good-paying clean energy jobs, and invest in environmental justice on our road to a clean energy economy. We need Congress to act before time runs out.”

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.

“An Earth Justice for All study found 70 percent of Charleston residents live within 3 miles of a high-risk chemical facility. A stretch of the Kanawha River heading west out of the city is known as Chemical Valley because of its major chemical industry concentration. The Biden administration’s approach recognizes how the climate crisis is interconnected with rising inequality, crumbling infrastructure, and persistent racial injustice.” said Charleston Councilwoman Deanna McKinney (WV). “We have to mitigate the climate crisis with the clean energy portion of the Build Back Better Act. Communities that have been systematically neglected need the transformative change the BBBA could bring. This will grow jobs and communities will prosper. Growing the economy isn’t inflationary. We need Sen. Manchin to see our needs and act by enacting BBBA.”

Some independent analysts and well-known economists like Paul Krugman have quelled inflationary fears surrounding BBBA saying that it will not add to inflationary pressures.

“As a former meteorologist, the weather pattern changes that I’ve witnessed over a lifetime of reporting confirms that the climate crisis is here. From 2010 to 2020, West Virginia experienced 11 extreme weather events, which cost up to $2 billion in damages. But these statistics, while important, tend to belittle the emotional devastation people suffer as their lives are thrown into chaos, watching their homes and businesses being destroyed. We have to act,” said Delegate Jim Barach, WV. “The climate section of the Build Back Better Act invests billions into transforming our systems to use clean energy. Those investments ensure that there will be a robust tax incentive program to spur job growth in clean power and clean transportation. As a result our fossil fuel usage will diminish. These tax incentives will put us on the road to a clean energy economy, and a cleaner atmosphere.”

“Critical investments in the President’s BBBA, working in tandem with the bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will support and create American jobs in the clean energy sector, help slash climate pollution, prepare communities for rising seas, droughts, and storms, as well as protect the nation’s public lands, safeguarding lives, livelihoods, and the economy,” said  Robin Wilt, Brighton Councilmember, EOPA New York Leadership Council. “The BBBA’s creation of the Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) builds on FDR’s classic program that gave dignity back to hundreds of thousands. It will build healthy and safe communities that are more resilient to storms and floods, expand access to renewable energy, weatherize buildings and install electric vehicle charging stations. The CCC can start to right the injustices of the past by giving good-paying jobs to those hardest hit by environmental racism.”

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 impact of climate change. Communities of color and low income have contributed the least to environmental pollution and the climate crisis, yet they suffer the most,” said Katelyn M. Kriesel, Manlius Town Councilor, EOPA New York Leadership Council. “We are making progress, but we need federal support to see substantive change. We need the climate section of the Build Back Better Act to become law. It’s investments will help us cut fossil fuel pollution in half by 2030, establish millions of good-paying clean energy jobs, and support climate adaptation efforts in our communities. Only then will we truly be on the road to an inclusive, clean energy economy.”

“Our community Protection Act (CLCPA) is moving New York forward but we aren’t an island. 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 passing the climate section of BBBA,” said William Reinhardt, Albany County Legislator, EOPA New York Leadership Council. “Employment opportunities in clean energy, renewable manufacturing, infrastructure revitalization, and a Civilian Climate Corps would be available with BBBA. These family-sustaining, union jobs would provide a boost to local economies. This is how we build a clean energy economy, where all will benefit.” 

“Last year, Hawaii made history as the first U.S. state to declare a climate emergency and called for accelerated action to address the climate crisis to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees,” said Hawaii State Representative Roy Takumi, Air National Guard Veteran “It’s time for the federal government to follow Hawaii’s lead, by declaring a National Climate Emergency, and to take swift action to mitigate the climate crisis by passing the climate plan in the Build Back Better Act. There is no time to waste.”

Other 2021 Biden administration climate accomplishments:

In 2021, President Biden rejoined the Paris climate agreement and rallied world leaders at a White House climate summit. He mandated that every government agency prioritize climate change, and earmarked 40 percent of government investments for underserved communities in need of environmental justice. So far, more than 20 federal agencies published climate adaptation plans identifying the biggest climate threats to their operations and how they plan to handle them.  

In executive actions, he ordered that the entire government vehicle fleet become electric, overturned two-thirds of President Trump’s deregulatory energy and environmental policies, while advancing dozens of his own. He proposed tougher tailpipe emissions standards for new cars, jump-started offshore wind farms and halted the Keystone XL pipeline.

Environmental and climate-related investments in the Infrastructure Law included:

  • $65 billion for clean energy and grid-related investments
  • $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water
  • $50 billion for climate resilience and weatherization to help with frequent and severe droughts, heat waves, floods and wildfires
  • $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites and cap orphaned oil and gas wells.
  • $25 billion for energy technology demonstration projects, as well as targeted budget increases for R&D programs at the Department of Energy
  • $7.5 billion to electrify public transit
  • $7.5 billion to build a national network of charging stations for electric vehicles

About Elected Officials to Protect America: Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.

January 25, 2022


Contact: Ramona du Houx,
Communications Director
Elected Officials to Protect America
Cell: 207.319.4727