Washington Weekly: December 8, 2021
The Past Week in D.C.
Today, President Biden signed an executive order to make the federal government carbon neutral by 2050. To reach that goal, the government will commit to run all government operations on carbon-free electricity by 2030, purchase only electric vehicles for government use by 2035, and retrofit all government buildings to be carbon neutral, among other moves.
Last week, the national League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power announced that they had reached $50 million in paid media spending in support of the climate provisions of the Build Back Better Act. The ads, which include TV, digital, print, and billboards, highlight the impact that the BBB Act will have on families and communities across the country, and urge Congress to pass the bill as soon as possible.
2021 was a big year for electric vehicles. As we approach the end of the year, take a look at some of the EVs released this year that are changing the auto industry.
The recently-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes nearly $50 billion to protect communities from climate change impacts. With so much need for climate protection across the country, the question now becomes — where will the funding go?
Michigan LCV Analysis: What does this mean for Michigan?
With Congress back in session, and having averted a near government shutdown following a threat by Republican members to block passage of a spending bill over vaccine requirements, the race is on to pass the Build Back Better Act as soon as possible. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed confidence that the BBB Act will pass by Christmas, a timeline that remains unknown but many experts agree with.
A majority of Democrats are hoping to complete the bill in the coming days before bringing it to the Senate floor next week. Throughout this month’s long process, two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have wielded the most power by opposing certain aspects of a bill that will require all 50 Democrats to vote together. With party leaders moving towards a vote, Senator Manchin continues to express concerns over parts of the bill, including various climate provisions such as a methane fee, while Senator Sinema now claims to back the BBB Act.
As we move closer and closer to the finish line, and cross-party bickering and in-party negotiations grab all of the headlines, it’s important to remember what is in this bill that will truly help Americans — and specifically Michiganders. (For the purposes of this newsletter we will stick to the clean energy proposals, although many benefits exist).
One major, sometimes overlooked, benefit of the bill’s passage is the impact it will have on energy costs. The clean energy investments in the bill will significantly lower household energy bills by up to $500 per household — something that should be especially attractive to Michigan residents who, according to a 2021 report issued by the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, experienced the highest electricity rates in the Midwest in 2020, coupled with the worst service.
If passed, the BBB Act would invest heavily in clean energy technologies that will reduce reliance on fossil fuels that are currently driving up costs for a host of reasons, including: 1) they are volatile, and vulnerable to extreme weather, as we saw last winter in the southwest; 2) they are significantly more expensive to operate and use, as evidenced by the fact that building a solar or wind farm is much cheaper than running a coal fired power plant, and driving an electric car costs less than half per mile of a gas powered car; 3) they continue our reliance on foreign oil, including from adversaries such as Russia, whose costs are largely at the whim of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Ironically, the recent rise in fuel prices across the country is being used by opponents of the BBB Act to delay it’s passage, despite the fact that clean energy investments are the perfect anecdote to rising fossil fuel costs. It’s estimated that investments included in the Act will save utility companies and customers $9 billion per year by 2030.
Of course, there are many other reasons to support the clean energy investments in the BBB Act beyond cost savings. The current provisions will help reduce carbon emissions and avoid the worst climate outcomes, lead to better health outcomes (and lower health care costs) for all Americans, provide significant macroeconomic benefits in the years to come, and likely reduce the national deficit over 10 years… To say nothing of the fact that passing the bill is simply the right thing to do given that three-fourths of Americans support it.
A Deeper Dive
Speaking of the many ways clean energy will reduce costs for Americans, be sure to check out a hearing held by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis tomorrow at 1:30pm to learn more about how clean energy, including provisions in the BBB Act, will make electricity bills and transportation costs cheaper for families across America.
Thanks for reading, stay safe, and have a great week.