Groups call on Biden to recenter environmental justice as a pillar in Build Back Better

Administration should redirect Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) funding into meaningful and just climate solutions

WASHINGTON – Today, six progressive environmental organizations called on Congress and the White House to prioritize environmental justice in the Build Back Better Act. The Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice assert this legislation will be a litmus test of President Biden’s commitment to make environmental justice a crucial pillar of his climate policy. 

The groups say the $150 billion expected to be removed from Biden’s flagship Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) must be reallocated toward programs consistent with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council’s recommendations. This includes increasing direct funding to community renewables and energy efficiency programs while precluding new funding for harmful and toxic technologies, such as nuclear power and fossil fuel-based infrastructure like carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

“Reconciliation is a momentous opportunity to tackle climate change and improve the lives of low income and communities of color,” said Anastasia Gordon, Energy and Transportation Policy Manager at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “In the urgency to finalize the Build Back Better Act, commitments to bold climate action and environmental justice cannot be compromised by directing investments into false energy solutions that will keep the nation dependent on fossil fuels and exacerbate the pollution and health risks frontline communities have faced for far too long.”

“The United States clearly does not understand the urgency of the climate crisis we are in,” said Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Even with all the severe weather and other impacts, the politicians are still trying to keep Big Oil fat and happy at the expense of us all, especially Mother Earth, the natural world and rights of Indigenous Peoples. This needs to stop today, and we need to stop funding false solutions to the climate crisis. We need real solutions and real reductions.”

“The Biden administration cannot continue to claim they are addressing the climate crisis while also directly funding the dirty energies responsible for polluting vulnerable communities,” said Sarah Lutz, Climate Campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Diverting crucial climate funding into toxic nuclear facilities and propping up the fossil industry through CCS and fossil-hydrogen programs will only move us further from a sustainable future.” 

“It is vital that Build Back Better truly does build back better. But that won’t happen without robust climate action,” said Mitch Jones, Policy Director at Food & Water Watch. “The $150 billion  targeted for clean energy should be used for community-owned wind and solar. And the bill must also directly confront the fossil fuel industry by eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. Only that will ensure that it lives up to its name.”

“Tossing money at snake-oil remedies like carbon capture and storage also wastes precious time and throws vulnerable communities under the bus,” said Jean Su, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s energy justice program. “If the Biden administration intends to walk its talk on energy justice, this money must go toward building out accessible, affordable renewable energy, with not a dime for the fossil-fuel industry. Anything less is unacceptable.”

Communications contacts: Anastasia Gordon, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, (646) 341-2588, [email protected]
Brittany Miller, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0746, [email protected]
Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 770-3187, [email protected]

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