The Bible instructs us to leave a good inheritance to future generations (Proverbs 13:22). With today’s passage of the Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives, we are one step closer to giving our children a bright and healthy future that we can be proud to pass down. The climate and pollution crises ravaging our communities confront us with a crucial “you can pay me now or pay me later” decision. While this bill bears a large price tag, it pales in comparison to the price tag of climate inaction, which carries unimaginable and inexcusable costs, in lives as well as dollars. This year alone, climate-fueled extreme weather has cost our economy a record-breaking $105 billion in property and infrastructure damage and over 500 lives lost. Today’s choice to pass the most ambitious and transformative climate and clean energy investments in our nation’s history will reverberate throughout the generations that follow, making our air purer, our communities safer, our economy stronger, and our families and neighbors healthier.
As Evangelical Christians with a special care for the unborn, we especially celebrate the expanded policies for defending children’s health. Together with the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better Act ensures pure water by replacing over 5 million lead water lines and clean air by accelerating the deployment of affordable clean energy to power our homes and communities, plugging air toxins and leaks of climate-warming methane from oil and gas infrastructure, and will trade 60,000 diesel school buses for clean electric ones.
We at the Evangelical Environmental Network thank all the supporters of this historic bill and are grateful for the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, and Committee Chairs Neal (MA-01), Yarmuth (KY-03), Pallone (NJ-06), Castor (FL-14), Scott (GA-13), and Grijalva (AZ-03). We lament, however, that this has become a one-party bill instead of uniting the country around defending human health and protecting God’s creation. Our children’s well-being isn’t––and shouldn’t be––a partisan issue. It is a moral issue and a matter of life. We call on all our leaders, regardless of their political stripe, to come together to ensure every child has the hope and expectation of a safe climate and pollution-free world.
While the Build Back Better Act puts us on a solid trajectory to combat dangerous climate disruption, more is needed to achieve our national goals to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels and the ultimate goal of net-zero by 2050. As the Build Back Better Act now goes to the Senate for consideration, we call on the upper chamber to close the gap by adding in a carbon fee with cash-back rebates to low and middle-income families and investments in frontline and energy-transition communities and for clean energy innovation. This carbon-linked revenue-raiser would also ensure the Build Back Better Act is paid in full. There is too much at stake to stumble at the finish line. A price on carbon will ensure we successfully meet our critical carbon reduction targets and that these transformative investments are fully paid for.
What’s in the Build Back Better Act?
The Build Back Better Act makes it easier for families and businesses to be the good environmental stewards Scripture calls us to be by providing incentives for American businesses to deploy innovations to power our homes and communities with reliable clean energy; by removing cost barriers for low and middle-income families to go electric with rooftop solar and electric cars; and by helping families increase the energy efficiency of their homes and lowering their energy bills. It also creates millions of family-sustaining jobs, including putting 150,000 Americans back to work in clean manufacturing; employing 200,000 farmers to adopt climate-smart practices; and creating 300,000 jobs for young Americans in the new Civilian Climate Corps that will harness the power of God’s creation to make our communities more climate resilient. This bill also holds polluters accountable by incentivizing companies to plug wasteful leaks of climate-warming methane and associated toxic air pollutants and by increasing royalties on oil and gas leases for the first time in 100 years to ensure producers clean up their mess and restore the land when they are finished. The bill also critically invests in both fossil-fuel dependent communities and frontline communities disproportionately harmed by fossil fuel pollution as well as defending God’s creation and the way of life of Indigenous communities by protecting the Arctic Refuge.