As we look forward to celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace and Bread of Life – we are grateful to our congressional leaders for coming together to pass a coronavirus relief deal to help ailing families and businesses. Over this last year, as we learn more and more about the novel coronavirus, the link between exposure to dirty air, polluted water, and worsened COVID-19 symptoms has become clearer and clearer. This link brings clearly into focus that to ensure a healthy, clean, and bright future for our children, we must tackle the pollution and climate crises together with the coronavirus crisis.
For these reasons, we applaud the many energy, climate, and environmental provisions included in the end-of-year legislation passed by Congress.
We specifically welcome several measures that will provide relief to families struggling with the burden of energy bills, including increased funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which helps low-income families keep energy costs low year-round through energy efficiency upgrades to their homes. This bill also modernizes and expands WAP to cover installation of home solar cells, test new approaches to make the program available to more families, and address key health and safety issues in homes, like mold, that not only prevent energy efficiency upgrades but cause significant harm to children’s health. We thank Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) for championing these provisions.
In one of the most significant actions on climate in the last decade, we also celebrate the agreement to phase down HFCs – pollutants in air conditioners and refrigerators that contribute to the ozone hole and are nearly one-thousand times worse for global warming than carbon dioxide. We thank Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) for spearheading this ground-breaking bipartisan agreement.
We also welcome a critically needed update to federal energy programs, which is the first major update since 2007. This overhaul includes the reauthorization and expansion of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program; energy efficiency for schools, data centers, and federal buildings; expanded research and development for wind, solar, advanced nuclear, carbon capture, and battery storage technologies; provisions for grid modernization; the establishment of RD&D program and prize competition for direct-air carbon capture technologies. We thank Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and ranking member Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.); House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.); as well as House Science, Space and Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and ranking member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) for championing these measures.
In a significant boost for renewable energy deployment, we also applaud the extension of several key tax credits that will continue to provide market incentives for clean, low-emission energy sources, grow high-paying clean energy jobs, and make roof-top solar more accessible for homeowners and families across America.
We are grateful for this significant – and critically needed – down payment towards the bright and healthy future our children deserve and we are called to give. We thank our congressional leaders for acting to protect the health of our children today and their future tomorrow through these important measures. We especially thank Senate and House leadership –Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – for shepherding through these critical provisions. However, as with coronavirus relief and recovery efforts, Congress can’t stop here. Much more is needed to fully address the pollution and climate crises. We call on Congress to continue to work together over the coming year in this same spirit of bipartisanship with each other and the incoming Biden Administration.
Over the next year, we at EEN will continue to educate our federal, state, and local leaders of the critical importance and moral imperative to create a clean energy economy that puts our families first, restores our energy leadership, supports family-sustaining clean jobs, protects God’s creation and most importantly defends our children’s health and lives. Will you help us?