Statement: U.S. House of Representatives passes historic climate investments

Build Back Better Act now heads to the Senate
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON -- Following a summer of extreme heat and drought, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), which includes groundbreaking levels of investment to reduce global warming pollution, clear the air we breathe, clean up toxic sites and protect our lands, waters and wildlife. 

Investments to tackle the climate crisis include:

  • A 10-year extension and expansion of clean energy tax incentives, which would decrease the cost of installing rooftop solar by up to 30% and take up to $12,500 off the cost of an electric vehicle.

  • Rebates for home energy efficiency and electrification projects.

  • A new program to reduce methane emissions, which are more than 80 times more potent in warming the planet than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years.

  • Funding to electrify U.S. Postal Service vehicles and medium and heavy-duty vehicles, such as garbage trucks or school buses. Fully electrifying USPS would eliminate the equivalent of 370,000 fossil fuel-powered cars from the road each year, and the bill provides nearly enough funding to do so.

Additional environmental provisions include:

  • Restoration of protections to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which was opened to oil and gas drilling in 2017.

  • Permanent protections for the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico from offshore oil leasing.

  • Nearly $10 billion to replace lead pipes and address lead pollution in schools, daycares and rural communities. Combined with the $15 billion provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, this funding could replace approximately half of the nation’s lead service lines.

  • Reinstatement of a Superfund “polluter pays” tax, which will go toward the clean up of America’s more than 1,300 toxic sites. Between the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act, Congress will have restored two out of three “polluter pays” Superfund taxes. 

The bill would be by far the largest-ever federal investment to solve climate change. It now heads to the U.S. Senate.

 

Following the vote, experts from Environment America, Environment New Jersey, Environment California and U.S. PIRG released the following statements:

 

Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office, said: 

“We know what we need to do to solve global warming, but too often political gridlock and outdated ways of thinking get in our way, especially when it comes to taking national action. That’s why today’s progress in Congress on the Build Back Better Act, the largest-ever federal investment in climate solutions, is particularly worth celebrating. Finding agreement on such a monumental bill hasn’t always been easy, but through every twist and turn of the legislative process, Americans have been solid in their support for clean energy and action to address climate change. 

“These important investments should be fully paid for. If further changes are needed to align revenues with expenditures, we urge the Senate to promptly do so and move forward.

“We applaud today’s vote and look forward to taking more steps together to solve our country’s biggest problems.”

Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG environment campaigns director, said:

“As the saying goes, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. But when it comes to climate change, we’re short-changing future generations. There’s a lot to do to fix the damage, but today we can celebrate a big step toward making amends thanks to investments in clean energy, electric vehicles, and new programs to reduce methane and other greenhouse gas pollution. We thank President Biden and the many members of Congress who came together to make these investments in a healthier future.”

Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, said:

“Today’s investment represents a historic step towards a healthier future. Clean energy tax credits helped drive the remarkable growth in renewable energy to date, but we’re still barely tapping the power of the sun and wind. The decade-long extension of these critical tools will deliver clean energy growth for years to come, which means cleaner air and a more livable climate for all Americans.”

Steve Blackledge, senior director of Environment America’s Conservation America Campaign, said:

“Americans don’t want drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; neither do its polar bears, caribou or even most oil companies. In light of the January 2021 lease sale flop, which proved there was little interest in misusing our wild spaces, today’s vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas development makes perfect sense. We now look to the Senate to build on this momentum and reestablish protections for the polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other wildlife that call the refuge home.”

Doug O’Malley, state director of Environment New Jersey, said:

“All of us want a future where far fewer children drink water tainted with lead or grow up next to toxic waste sites, and the Build Back Better Act helps us get there. In addition to providing $10 billion to replace lead pipes, the legislation restores one of the ‘polluter pays’ fees for the Superfund program and another will be restored via the bipartisan infrastructure bill—a victory decades in the making for New Jerseyans and all taxpayers. Thank you to Chairman Frank Pallone and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Debbie Dingell, Henry Cuellar and all who fought to clean up our environment.”

Laura Deehan, state director of Environment California, said:

“The recent California oil spill reminded us: Drilling leads to spilling, and spills in our oceans devastate beaches and marine life. We need to end offshore drilling, and that starts with ending new leasing, which this bill does for the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Eastern Gulf. Thanks to Reps. Alan Lowenthal, Jared Huffman, Mike Levin, Raúl Grijalva and all those who just voted to protect our coasts. Now, it’s time for the Senate to do the same!”