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8 Climate Justice Solutions that Congress Must Pass with the Build Back Better Act

As the climate crisis drives more extreme weather, our communities are at risk unless we make major investments that move us away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. Now we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do just that. President Biden has proposed a sweeping budget plan to rebuild our country’s infrastructure that will advance transformational climate policy and environmental justice. The proposed $1.75 trillion Build Back Better framework includes $555 billion to address the climate crisis that covers many provisions that we’ve spent years fighting for. Now Congress must pass these climate solutions alongside any infrastructure plan that comes to a vote.

As lawmakers deliberate, we are working to make sure these critical investments in climate and environmental justice stay in the final plan — and we need your help.

  1. Zero-emissions transportation. By transitioning to a clean transportation system, we can tackle the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S. and improve air quality for communities. Congress should electrify the federal fleet and make significant investments in electric vehicle deployment, charging infrastructure, and zero-emissions equipment at ports.
  2. A 100% clean energy grid. By switching from fossil fuels to clean energy sources, we can build a healthier, more sustainable, and resilient electricity system and create jobs. Congress must invest in modern and efficient wind and solar energy generation, upgrade transmission systems, and provide incentives that support a 100% clean energy transition.
  3. Pollution-free homes and buildings. By modernizing and electrifying buildings, we can improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon pollution, and improve indoor air quality. Congress should put people to work retrofitting public buildings to make them more energy efficient and provide incentives to electrify home appliances.
  4. Clean drinking water. By upgrading our water infrastructure, we can make sure every community has access to safe drinking water. Congress must modernize drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, replace lead service lines, especially in schools and other childcare facilities, and create a water and sewer low-income assistance program.
  5. Getting out of the oil business. By advancing commonsense reforms, such as modernizing bonding requirements and increasing outdated royalty rates, and by repealing the Arctic Refuge oil and gas leasing program, we can prevent further investment in the fossil fuels driving the climate crisis and help protect our public lands and oceans.
  6. Removing toxic chemicals from our lives. Dangerous chemicals threaten people where they live, work, and play. The Build Back Better Act includes funding to protect firefighters by replacing protective equipment that contains harmful PFAS chemicals.
  7. Justice for under-invested communities. By investing in the low-income communities, tribal communities, and communities of color most harmed by pollution and the climate crisis, we can lay the foundation for a more just and equitable future. Congress must commit funding to monitor air pollution, replace poisonous lead service lines, address environmental injustice with community-led projects, improve data collection on pollution, and expand access to clean energy and transportation — all while ensuring appropriate environmental review and full consultation with all impacted communities.
  8. Natural climate solutions. By restoring degraded ecosystems, we can build more resilient communities, clean up our air and water, help nature store more carbon, and create good jobs. Congress must conserve our lands and oceans by preventing oil and gas extraction on public lands, conserving carbon rich old-growth forests, investing in ecosystem restoration and climate-smart agricultural practices, and protecting endangered species from extinction.

How can I help?

Negotiations are happening now and your member of Congress needs to hear from you directly. Please join us in demanding that the bipartisan infrastructure plan is paired with significant investments in climate and environmental justice solutions.

A wind turbine at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) site in Colorado.

A wind turbine at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) site in Colorado.

Let Ideas Compete / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0