Letter to Congress: Act on Climate

Environment America
Last updated: 2/17/2022

Dear Congress,

It’s time to act on climate. 

More than 40 percent of Americans experienced a climate-related disaster in 2021(1). From deadly heat waves to hurricanes that left millions without power to wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes, the message is clear: our climate can’t wait.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to. Congress can act this month to usher in a decade of clean energy growth. As community leaders, local officials, health professionals, small business owners, environmental organizations and citizens, we’re coming together to urge you to seize this opportunity to address the defining challenge of our time—climate change—by passing a package of climate investments by March.*

The best climate bill is one that can pass. Thankfully, as President Biden recently said, many of you—and most of your constituents(2)—already support a more than $500 billion suite of climate and environmental investments, anchored by tax incentives for renewable energy generation and electric vehicles.  

Tax credits for technologies like wind and solar have driven progress through the last decade. We’ve seen 52 percent annual growth in solar since the Investment Tax Credit for solar was enacted,(3) and wind energy has tripled since a large investment was made in the Production Tax Credit in 2009 (4). But there’s much more we can do to tap clean, green, renewable power sources. 

A ten-year package of tax incentives could cut power sector emissions to between 64% and 73% below 2005 levels by 2031.(5) These incentives are a critical component of meeting President Joe Biden’s climate goals of 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 and a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. 

Not only would these investments help tackle climate change, they’d also save lives. Pollution from burning fossil fuels is estimated to be responsible for more than 1 in 10 deaths in the U.S. each year—more than 350,000 total deaths in 2018.(6)

The consequences of falling short are clear. With heat waves, droughts and wildfires picking up throughout the country, we’re feeling the impacts right now. The decisions we make today will continue to shape America for generations to come—and will determine if we’re able to preserve a livable future. Every solar panel, every ton of pollution avoided matters. That is why, again, we implore you to do everything you can to act on climate.

We urge you to move us toward a brighter future by passing a bill by March that includes clean energy tax credits, along with any other environmental provisions that enjoy sufficient support.

Signed: 252 local and state government officials, school officials, health professionals, academics, business owners and organizations from 34 states and the District of Columbia.

*We understand Sen. Luján's absence may necessitate a later date, but hope to see progress as soon as possible.

Citations:
1. Sarah Kaplan and Andrew Ba Tran, “More than 40 percent of Americans live in counties hit by climate disasters in 2021,” The Washington Post, January 5, 2022.
2. "New data: Poll shows voters strongly back climate-related infrastructure investments," Environment America, June 28, 2021, https://environmentamerica.org/news/ame/new-data-poll-shows-voters-stron...
3. “Solar Investment Tax Credit,” Solar Energy Industries Association, https://www.seia.org/initiatives/solar-investment-tax-credit-itc.  
4. “Table 4.2.B. Existing Net Summer Capacity of Other Renewable Sources by Producer Type, 2009 through 2019 (Megawatts),” U.S. Energy Information Administration, https://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_04_02_b.html. 
5. Analysis includes a ten-year package with full credit value, flexibility, ability to receive direct payments, and extension to existing clean resources. John Larsen, Ben King, Hannah Kolus, Naveen Dasari, and Whitney Herndon, “Pathways to Build Back Better: Maximizing Clean Energy Tax Credits,” The Rhodium Group, July 8, 2021. https://rhg.com/research/build-back-better-clean-energy-tax-credits/ 
6. Gideon Weissman and Emma Searson, “We Have the Power,” Frontier Group and Environment America Research & Policy Center, 2021, https://environmentamerica.org/feature/ame/we-have-the-power.

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