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Higgins announces passage of legislation expanding access to sustainable energy & promoting clean economy job growth

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Fri, Sep 25th 2020 01:45 pm

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced passage of H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act. The package of bipartisan bills would push the U.S. toward a clean energy future, create jobs, and ensure communities are treated equitably in the process.

Higgins said, “As we continue to advocate for the use of clean, renewable energy to protect our environment, it’s critical that we push for innovative research that will lead to substantial advancements in how we can utilize these clean energy sources in our communities. This bill will provide federal funding to assist in these initiatives and help rural electric cooperatives build that path forward to create sustainable energy jobs.”

The broad, comprehensive energy package prioritizes:

•Energy efficiency sets new standards for buildings, and provides funding for schools, homes, municipal buildings and manufacturing facilities to improve efficiency and adapt new technologies. The bill provides $1.7 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program and $17.5 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, as well as $5 billion in grants for home retrofits.

•Clean transportation authorizes over $36 billion for electrifying vehicles and building charging infrastructure; $650 million for low- and zero-emissions school buses; $375 million for the Clean Cities Coalition Program; and $2.5 billion to reduce harmful emissions from diesel engines through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.

•Environmental justice authorizes $95 million in various environmental justice grants for research, education and training; establishes $50,000 grants to help groups from communities impacted by air pollution participate in decision-making and permit approval; creates an online environmental justice clearinghouse; requires federal agencies to consider whether their actions have adverse effects on low-income communities, communities of color, and other marginalized groups; prioritizes clean energy projects in low-income and marginalized communities; and restores private rights of action against recipients of federal funding based on discriminatory disparate impacts making it easier for individuals to combat injustice.

•Workforce development creates a clean energy workforce development program, including grants to eligible businesses; includes Buy America provisions; includes strong prevailing wage standards and project labor agreements for projects fully or partially funded by the Act.

•Reducing carbon pollution and enhancing innovation creates new programs to reduce industrial emissions; invests in carbon capture technology and storage to remove harmful waste from the atmosphere, consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations; phases down hydrofluorocarbon production by 85% over 15 years, which could help avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming; establishes programs to accelerate the development of clean energy technologies and support entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds; creates a $1.25 billion grant program to prevent leaks from natural gas distribution systems.

•Renewable energy authorizes $121.4 million for geothermal programs at the Department of Energy, increasing funding each year to $151.9 million in FY2025; authorizes $294 million in FY2021, increasing annually to $357.4 million in FY2025, for a DOE program promoting solar energy research, demonstration, and commercialization; authorizes $109.2 million in FY2021 up to $132.7 million in FY2025 for wind energy; authorizes $200 million through FY2025 for grants and low-interest loans for solar installation for affordable multifamily buildings.

•Grid modernization and energy storage authorizes over $1 billion per year to improve this nation’s electric grid, increasing resiliency, transmission capability, security and integration with vehicles; and over $100 million per year to improve energy storage.

•Scientific integrity codifies scientific integrity principles across all federal science agencies and mandates each agency appoint a scientific integrity officer to manage adherence to these principles.

Higgins, a longtime supporter of sustainable clean energy and environmental protections, recently approved a budget package including $43.5 billion in emergency spending to build and repair water and clean energy infrastructure projects.

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