WASHINGTON— Dozens of environmental and labor groups urged House and Senate leaders to increase funding for President Biden’s historic executive orders to spur domestic renewable energy production under the Defense Production Act.
The call comes as the country struggles to make progress on climate action. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia v EPA weakened the EPA’s ability to regulate power plants under the Clean Air Act. A slimmed down version of the Build Back Better Act, Biden’s landmark climate legislation, is stalled in Congress.
In June Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to manufacture solar panels, insulation and heat pumps. Biden’s plan encourages high labor standards tied to increased manufacturing. It also calls for boosting community-based clean energy and distributed generation.
A House Appropriations subcommittee recently appropriated $100 million toward Biden’s clean energy orders. While this is a positive first step, estimates show more than $100 billion is needed to meet the administration’s climate and clean electricity goals. That funding can catalyze the country’s manufacturing base and transform our energy system into one that is renewable and just.
More than 1,000 organizations support the DPA orders, including the People vs. Fossil Fuels Coalition. Earlier this year U.S. Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jason Crow (D.-Colo.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Energy Security and Independence Act to direct $100 billion toward domestic renewable energy production, prioritizing investment in environmental justice and worker communities. The bill has more than 50 cosponsors and support from more than 80 organizations.
“We’re at a crisis point for our climate and our energy future, and we need action now,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity’s energy justice program. “Biden’s clean energy directives add urgency to the climate fight, but Congress must fully fund this to spur the just, renewable future we need. There’s no way to ramp up renewable energy production without the money to make it happen.”
“President Biden’s recent deployment of DPA to create secure, clean energy resources for all communities is sorely needed and we applaud him for these efforts,” said Art Terrazas, government affairs advocate for the League of Conservation Voters. “Now it is time for Congress to do its part to meet the moment on climate and provide the funding necessary for clean energy, justice, and jobs through a reconciliation package and strong FY23 appropriations so that we can grow the renewable energy manufacturing industry, deploy these needed resources across the country, and ensure that all communities benefit from lower energy costs today.”
“Working in solar in the St. Louis area, we're seeing prices for panels go up every day or suppliers simply out of stock. We need help from Washington to move projects forward right away. There's no time to waste. We need the funding to carry out President Biden's Defense Production Act order to spur renewable energy production," said Brian Tresenriter of SoulShyne Solar, who is a Green Workers Alliance member.
“We are in a climate emergency — an emergency we can only confront when our government steps up and launches a WWII scale mobilization to justly transition to renewable energy,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of Sunrise Movement. “As climate disasters worsen, oil companies continue to price-gouge consumers, and real investments in renewable energy have stalled, Congress must urgently and robustly fund President Biden's DPA executive order. In a moment when young people are questioning the legitimacy of our institutions, our politicians must act to save our generation and show us what our government can do for us.”
“Deploying the DPA is a crucial first step in protecting communities from corporate utilities who keep throwing lifelines to outdated, toxic, and expensive fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Tim Sahay, senior policy manager at Green New Deal Network. “To get the job done and support renewable energy projects and a just transition for workers and communities, we are calling on the Senate to fund the DPA.”
“Biden’s executive orders on climate can only be meaningful if Congress dedicates the funding to get the job done,” said Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh. “Using the Defense Production Act to supercharge America’s clean energy production is a critical step towards treating the climate crisis like a true emergency.”
“Congress must appropriate funds that match the needs laid out in President Biden’s forward-looking executive order,” said Karen Orenstein, director of the climate and energy justice program at Friends of the Earth U.S. “The cost of inaction is far more expensive and will be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, in the U.S. and worldwide.”
“The dual crises of rising energy prices, along with a cascade of climate impacts, demand immediate action for the health and wellbeing of every American. EOPA is inspired by President Biden’s leadership in invoking the DPA, however more investment than $100 million is needed in order to set the United States on a path to a 50-52% reduction in carbon pollution by 2030 — the goal scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change,” said Dominic Frongillo, executive director and cofounder of Elected Officials to Protect America. “President Biden can leverage DPA funds and the federal procurement budget of $650 billion per year to scale up clean energy technologies deployment. We are in a climate emergency, which is a national security risk. At least $100 billion should and could be allocated by the end of this fiscal year to help ensure the security of our nation and the world through building a clean energy economy.”
“The Biden administration rightly used the Defense Production Act to start unlocking our country’s renewable energy potential,” said Ashley Thomson, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA. “We need more of this kind of action from Washington to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis that is already causing death and destruction. This is too important for political games. Leaders like Rep. Cori Bush understand that lives are at stake. Congress needs to follow her lead and fund these orders so we can secure a livable future.”
“The DPA is meant for unusual, even extreme, circumstances like war, pandemics and national emergencies. We have never seen a greater threat to our country, indeed to the world, than the one posed by potentially catastrophic climate change,” said Todd Paglia, executive director of Stand.earth. “We need to invest as much as we can, as rapidly as we can, into renewable energy if we want to ensure the safety and security of our country and our planet.”
“Inflated energy prices coupled with an over-dependence on Russian fossil fuels threaten to derail global efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. Nations around the globe need to implement bold solutions to accelerate the climate crisis for the security of the world and their own energy independence. We can show the way with a significant investment of at least $100 billion for the DPA,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state representative, Marine combat veteran, president and cofounder of the Elected Officials to Protect America. “Ukraine underscores how dependency on fossil fuels fills the coffers of tyrants and dictators like Putin, and that a rapid transition to clean and renewable energy is not just necessary for our environment, but critical to our economic, national security and true energy independence.”
“Deploying DPA is a crucial tool in this crisis moment, as families struggle due to inflation and skyrocketing utility costs that have saddled them with debt. We urge Congress to fully fund DPA,” said Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, sustainable communities program director at GreenLatinos. “Latino/x households spend disproportionate amounts of their income on energy and are unrepresented in green jobs; along with other marginalized communities, we stand to benefit greatly from this investment in our shared energy future.”
“It's great to see President Biden stepping up to the challenge of climate change by using his powers to advance renewable energy, create good jobs, and center environmental justice. However, the Defense Production Act is only effective if it is funded,” said Joe Uehlein, president of the Labor Network for Sustainability. “Congress must meet this moment and give these presidential orders the funding required to deploy this clean energy technology across the country.”
“By invoking the Defense Production Act to support domestic clean energy manufacturing, President Biden demonstrated that we must use every tool at our disposal to address the climate emergency and support job growth,” said Odette Mucha, federal liaison at Vote Solar. “Congress must now allocate the funding needed to bring clean energy manufacturing back to America.”
“Executive powers like the DPA can be incredibly useful, but only when supported with ample appropriations,” said Dorothy Slater, senior researcher with the Revolving Door Project. “We're thankful to President Biden for unlocking this no-brainer tool and we urge Congress to provide the sufficient funding that is so desperately needed to speed the necessary transition to clean, renewable energy. We also emphasize the need for strong, long-term oversight of the use of these funds for environmentally just projects.”
“President Biden's DPA clean energy orders have been a cause for celebration for our generation. We're elated to see this administration take a critical step toward a more secure and sustainable future for young people. But now, we need Congress to do its part,” said Lisa Giordano, executive director of the Association of Young Americans. “Our elected officials must support this historic effort to actively combat the climate crisis by boldly investing in the DPA in the FY2023 appropriations package.”
“Clean energy is national security and I’m heartened to see President Biden use the Defense Production Act in this way to make America less dependent on petro-dictators,” said RL Miller, political director of Climate Hawks Vote.