In this episode, CCAN hosts our second federal webinar! This time about President Biden’s climate plan. Included in the American Jobs Plan. We’re joined by guest speakers, Dr. Leah Stokes of Evergreen Action, Andres Jimenez of Green 2.0, and Ben Beachy from the Sierra Club.
Read along with the full transcript here:
Charles Olsen 0:04
My name is Charlie Olsen and this is upside down; the podcast from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. In this episode, CCAN hosts our second federal webinar. This time about President Biden’s climate plan. Included in the American jobs. We’re joined by guest speakers, Dr. Leah Stokes, Andres Jimenez, and Ben Beachy
Mike Tidwell 0:48
Welcome, everyone to the zoom event to break down the amazing new climate and infrastructure plan from President Joe Biden, called the American jobs plan. This webinar will focus more on the climate, the clean energy, jobs and climate justice features of the plan. And we’re so thrilled to have you all join us on my kidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and he can Action Fund and until this year, my team has been mostly state focused on successful clean energy policies in Maryland, Virginia and local dt. So it seems logical for us now to host this webinar from the DC region for all of you nationwide as Congress soon takes up the President’s $2.8 trillion climate and infrastructure plan. Among other things, that plan would mandate 100% clean electricity in our nation by 2035. Building 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations creates a $10 billion climate crisis core and mandates that at least 40% of all climate investments and benefits accrue to historically disadvantaged communities. Today we’ll cover not only the substance of the plan, but also the politics, laying out the pathway for Congress to make it law this year. With your help. Today’s webinars co hosted by T can Action Fund and our friends at evergreen action, a nonprofit inspired by the work of Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State. evergreen is devoted to rapidly solving the climate crisis with justice while creating millions of good paying new union jobs. Much of Biden’s climate plan, in fact, is inspired by evergreen work. Speaking of jobs, this plan would create a lot of them 19 million according to the White House. So we thought we’d show this quick video from the group climate power just to give you a sense of what we’re talking about. Calling all builders, all welders and roofers, engineers and electricians, calling all brick masons and Boilermakers, steel workers and steamfitters. Your country is calling you to rebuild America to create a cleaner, safer, more prosperous future. We’re all tackling climate change. This is the job of our lifetime, it’s time to build back better. Let’s get to work.
The work that certainly is inspiring. So let’s jump into the details of the plan with our inspiring speakers. today. We’re going to start with Dr. Leah Stokes of evergreen action, who will explain the core feature of Biden’s climate plan: a 100% clean electricity standard by 2035. Lia will break down that policy including the infrastructure investments needed to make it happen. Next we’ll hear from Ben Beachy, director of the living economy program at Sierra Club, he’ll ask the question, is the Biden plan really enough to meet the climate and economic crisis? And how can we improve it? Then Andre, tremendous of the group 2.0 will dive into the equity and justice features of the plan, of which there are many laws Quintin Scott of seeking an action farm will tell us more about jobs, especially jobs that would accrue to the key state of West Virginia under the binding plan. So let’s get started. And by the way, if you have questions for our speakers, you can place them in the q&a tab. Also know that this program is being recorded. And if you joined us a few minutes late again, I’m Mike Kidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and we’re breaking down the details of Joe Biden’s American jobs plan. Our first speaker again is Dr. Leah Stokes, a professor of political science at UC Santa Barbara, and who sits on the advisory panel of evergreen action. She’s a rising star in the climate movement whose advocacy on 100% clean electricity has been featured in national publications and the new climate podcast by legendary blogger Dave Roberts. Leah Calla if you can, more about the 100% clean electricity standard and why it’s so important that President Biden included it in his American jobs plan.
Leah Stokes 5:08
Well, thanks so much for having me, Mike. And it’s so wonderful to be here with my co panelists to be talking about this really crucial issue today. And as Mike said, I’m going to break down what’s in the Biden plan. So as you may know, about two weeks ago, they released the American jobs plan, and I’m going to help you understand what’s in it.
So the first thing to know if you want to know about the American jobs plan 101 is spending. The spending is a little complicated, actually, because it turns out that some things were not fully costed in the estimates that the White House put out, specifically, tax credits. So the plan is somewhere in the range of between two and $3 trillion, probably closer to $3 trillion, to invest in infrastructure and job creation, some of the really key components in terms of where that spending is planned to go, according to the White House is into transportation. There’s a lot of detail there for things like rebuilding roads and bridges, but also really key climate investments like electric vehicle investments, and charging infrastructure, and public transit. Another really big tranche of spending is the power sector, where it’s likely that the spending is around 500 billion. And that’s because there’s both direct spending of 100 billion, and potentially up to $400 billion in tax credits for the power sector. So that could combine to about $500 billion. And that’s a very good number, if that is the final number that Congress comes out with, because that’s what a lot of folks have been saying, we likely need to make this transition in the power sector, which is what I’m going to focus on a lot today. There’s also money for lots of other things like affordable housing, investing in electrifying and making affordable housing more sustainable to the tune of $200 billion. And they’re spending for research and development for key breakthrough technologies like hydrogen, of 180 billion. Now, many groups were calling before the plan came out. And after the plan came out for more spending, there was a letter just a few days before it was signed by labor unions, environmental groups, environmental justice groups, calling for $4 trillion in spending. And there is a very prominent move with the thrive agenda, which I’m sure Ben Beachy will talk about calling for more like $10 trillion in spending. So you know, many groups are saying this is good, it’s a down payment, but it’s not enough. And it’s important to remember that this is just really the opening salvo from the White House that Congress is actually ultimately responsible for setting the scale of spending. Now what Congress could do is they could go bigger, or they could go smaller. And of course, all of us want to be pushing for Congress to be going bigger as this develops.
Now, what in the American jobs plan? What’s the 101? In terms of the policies? Well, of course, there’s a clean electricity standard, which is really monumental. President Biden ran and one on a 100% clean electricity standard by 2035, which is a really landmark idea that came from the Inslee campaign and the Warren campaign and eventually made its way into the Biden campaign. And Biden talked about this goal when he was signing the executive orders on climate during his first few weeks in office. But you know, by putting it into the plan, it seems like a lot of folks in Congress and other places are really saying, Wow, this is real, this is a big focus. And notably, the budget that came out yesterday, also included spending for the Department of Energy to set up a clean electricity standard program and actually implemented it. There’s also extensions of really important renewable energy tax credits, and specifically converting them to direct pay. What does that mean? It means that you don’t need to have tax liability in order to use these policies. These are called the investment tax credit, or the ITC, and the production tax credit or the PTC. And these have been really important policies to building wind and solar across the country. And they have a huge support of the industry in terms of extending them. So that’s a very important policy as well. The environmental justice movement has been very vocal in saying that 40% is a really important number in terms of making sure that investments are going into disadvantaged communities. And the plan says that 40% of the benefits of investments will be flowing to disadvantaged communities. And there are folks like Shalonda Baker, who was hired into the Department of Energy who’s actually tasked with trying to think about how to implement those policies. There’s really big investments in transportation, probably folks have noticed that the Secretary of Transportation Pete Buda judge is up there every day, biking around and talking about TVs and trains. And he seems to be like a mini President Biden, very excited about the future of transportation. And so that’s probably the biggest ticket item in this plan is investments in the transportation sector. There are potential huge investments in building electrification. And what I’d really like to see in that area is rebates. So that
Every consumer No matter how much money they make, or how much tax liability they have, can electrify their homes because we know we can deliver really important public health benefits by getting people off of fossil gas, especially for cooking, which turns out as the science is becoming clearer and clearer, it’s actually creating quite dangerous indoor air pollution. And so building electrification is going to be really important to be doing all across this country, for everybody. And something that’s gotten a lot of folks very excited is a plan to eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies. This is something that President Biden has talked a lot about. And there’s a plan here to actually do that. And lots more. So let’s dive into the clean electricity standard. My personal favorite thing, what is a clean electricity standard? Well, it’s a requirement. So it’s not an option, it says you must do something. And the requirement is for electric utilities to increase their clean electricity by a certain deadline. So we could think about 80% clean power by 2030, which is directly on the road directly on that path and the straight line to 100%. Clean Power by 2035, which is President Biden’s landmark goal. So this is a really important policy. And it’s not, it’s not market based. It’s not an option. It’s a requirement. And it’s important to note that it’s not really a new idea. This is something that environmental advocates have been pushing for including C can in states across the country for decades. And therefore it’s a very proven policy, we know how it works. So already one in three Americans live in a place that’s targeting 100% clean electricity. So all we’re trying to do here is scale it up.
So can Congress do this? Yes, it can pass a CES, there are three options for how to do this. The first is passing a CES through regular order. Now, as you know, we only have 50 votes in the Senate, but the democrats have. And so if you want to do it through regular order, you need 60 votes in the Senate. So if we were to be able to come up with a clean electricity standard that 10 Republicans would vote for, it could be bipartisan, and the White House and Senate mentioned and others have said that they want to try to do things in a regular order way first. So I think that that’s likely what we’re going to see in the coming weeks now. Former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said consistently that he has no interest in doing these things. So that may not go very far. But there are efforts to try to do it with maybe some senators, like perhaps Senator Murkowski, who are more willing to come to the table. Now, there’s a second option, of course, which is if you get rid of the filibuster, then you only need 50 votes to do it. But again, Senator Manchin has said that he doesn’t want to do that. Now, there is a third option, which I think in the long term is likely to be what we see get done to pass the American jobs plan. And that’s the same way that the COVID relief package that was just passed, was passed, and it’s called budget reconciliation. And it requires 51 votes in the Senate. So basically, 50 democratic senators plus vice president Kamala Harris, and what we have been doing at evergreen action, in partnership with data for progress is figuring out how to do that through budget reconciliation. And there are many options to do it. And you don’t have to take it from me, you can take it from the Secretary of Energy, Granholm today, who said that in the media, which is very exciting that she also agrees with this view. And of course, the Biden administration does not have to wait for Congress to start making progress on clean electricity, it can already take action through the Environmental Protection Agency. And administrator Reagan has said many times that he plans to start doing that. So utility should recognize that there’s already existing authority to make progress on these power plants. And perhaps they’ll get a better deal if they come to the table and negotiate.
Now, you might say, do we really need a clean electricity standard? Absolutely, we do. And let me tell you why. If all we do is extend the renewable energy tax credits, which I support, and is very important, it will get us some of the way there but not all the way there. What models are showing is that it’s only going to get us to between 44 to 50% 56%, clean power by 2030. Keep in mind, we’re at 40% right now, okay, so that’s going to only increase us by 16%. Over this decade, and we don’t want to increase by 16%, we want to double the amount of clean electricity over this coming decade, we want to get from 40% to 80%. So this policy is going to be an absolutely important floor and foundation for our work. But it is not sufficient. And it’s really important that everybody understands that. And this isn’t just my modeling. This is modeling that comes from an example from rhodium, who’s been very much out there supporting the tax credits. Now, a clean electricity standard, by contrast, will give us much more, it’ll give us 80% clean power, of course by 2030. But critically, what the models are showing, and this is a bunch of models from a bunch of independent groups and analyses. It’s on they’re all converging towards really exciting
numbers that will get 86% reduction in carbon pollution below 2005 levels, that’s amazing, we’ll get 93% reduction in co2 emissions, that’s really, really important. And we’ll get a 76% reduction in NOx emissions. And we don’t have the data yet. When it comes to mercury pollution and particulate matter, other really hazardous pollutants that overwhelmingly are in communities of color. And that leads to facts like black children having asthma rates two times as high as white children. But the point is that this clean electricity standard will fundamentally deliver pollution reductions in disadvantaged communities in communities of color, and we’ll deliver on the environmental justice goals that we all have. So I just want to really emphasize this point that this is all about pollution reduction at the end of the day.
Now, why are we so focused on electricity? Shouldn’t you know why is this so important? Why do I go on and on about this every day? Well, a clean electricity system. So our clean electricity standard gets us to 80% by 2030, plus electrification, meaning things like electric vehicles, electric buildings, those two powerful ideas combined can give us between 70 to 80%. Economy wide carbon pollution reduction, how does that work? Well, here’s what the current pollution looks like: the economy wide electricity sector is the second biggest source really closely tied with trends with transportation, we can zero that out. Okay, so we eliminate that one, transportation, we can cut massive amounts of emissions. If we electrify that sector, you know, it’s not going to be easy to electrify aviation or some long haul trucking or certain things are going to be hard. So we won’t get to zero. But maybe we’ll say around 5% emissions will stay in that sector. Industry. folks think that we can electrify about half of heavy industry. So let’s say we can cut that about down to 10%. And buildings, we can just electrify buildings. So what does that get us? That gets us if this is the correct math 75% reduction in carbon pollution and what will that mean for two for nitrous oxide for particulate matter for mercury for all these conventional air pollutants, those are going to go really, really small as well. So this really is a pathway to climate stability. It’s not just a pet project of mine. It’s a vision for how we actually get economy wide decarbonisation. Last couple things come from my friends at data for progress, where they have been doing insane polling. But how popular these ideas are, as you can see, they have polled almost 17,000 likely voters across the country, which is an insane number of polling. As a person who does polls, that’s very big, you can see that we get majority support strong majority support amongst Democrats were in the 80 percentage point support, that’s huge independence of majority support. And republicans if we take those don’t know we’re just about 50%.
Now, this is a particularly popular idea amongst communities of color amongst black and Latin x communities. Why because these communities are on the frontlines of pollution. And they understand that clean electricity will really deliver those benefits that I’ve been talking about for those communities. So we have way above average support in both black and Latin x communities. If you’re interested in learning more about all these ideas, we’ve published two reports, a roadmap to 100%, clean electricity by 2035, and a polling memo with data for progress. So really excited about all this hope that everybody will join in on this. And it’s a really big fight we have ahead of us. And let’s try to get to 80% clean power by 2030.
Mike Tidwell 18:30
Leah Stokes, thank you so much. That was Leah Stokes. She is a professor of political science at UC Santa Barbara, and also on the board of advisors, that evergreen action. And if we could just, you know, sort of harness her energy alone, I think we could power Chicago for a couple of years. Thank you, Leah, for everything you do in our movement, for how clearly and passionately you argue for these common sense policy options. And we really appreciate it. And now three games of common sense actions. I want to introduce Jamie DeMarco, he is the federal policy director for Chesapeake Climate Action Network and he can Action Fund. And Jamie, can you tell everyone how they can take action right now in support of this 100% policy that Leah just laid out?
Jamie DeMarco 19:20
Absolutely. So the Americans job, the American jobs plan, as Leo was talking about is by far and away the strongest climate plan ever proposed by a US president. But it doesn’t matter how good of a plan we have, if we can’t get it passed in Congress. So we have to work our butts off these next few months to make sure that this plan gets even stronger, and to make sure that it gets passed. And I’ll tell you one thing.
If the only people pushing for this policy live inside the DC beltway, then it’s going to fail. All politics is local, and the only way the American Jobs Act is going to move through Congress is if it is being pushed
By every corner of the country, and so my colleague, Charlie is going to share in the chat a link to a resolution, explicitly stating support for the 100% clean electricity standard that Leo was talking about, and urging President Biden to pass that in urging Congress to pass that. And when members of Congress when senators, look at a list of who’s signed a letter like that, a senator will, you know, look for some of those big names
that, you know, have influence in DC. But then the next thing they’re gonna look, it’s, they’re gonna see, do I see any local groups whose names I recognize, it’s clear they live in my state, and that more than anything, I think, is going to influence whether they listen to this letter, or toss it in the recycling bin, the 10,000 other letters they got that day. So what I’m asking you is to take that link in the chat, and give
and ask one local organization in the state where you live, to sign that letter. I mean, it doesn’t have to necessarily be a climate organization, it could be a high school club, it could be a local church. I mean, think big and broad, the more grassroots, if there’s an organization that meets and has a name and has membership, then I encourage you to ask them to sign this resolution. We’re just getting started with it. I think we’re going to get a lot more. And I hope after this webinar, that’s the first thing you do. Mike, alternate back over to you.
Mike Tidwell 21:26
Thank you, Jamie. And also, we’re going to post into the chat, a fact sheet that we have about all the climate features of the American jobs. So look for that, as well. It’s a fact sheet that you can actually find put together. So as you’re asking your friends to sign the petition in favor of 100%. You can have this handy fact sheet that we’re also posting in the chat and that will have on our website at sea can action fund.org. And so we’ve heard about the 100% feature, the Biden American jobs plan. And again, I want to tell you if you’re just joining us or if you join late on Mike Treadwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network NC can action funding, you’re tuned in to a webinar where we’re breaking down joe biden’s American jobs plan. So I want to bring up our next speaker, Mr. Ben beachy, and Ben is director of the Sierra Club living economy program. He has worked on economic policies for over a decade in organizations fighting for workers rights, climate justice, public health and self determination, then and Sierra Club have been vocal advocates, along with sunrise, many unions and progressive legislators on Capitol Hill for the thrive agenda. And that agenda, as many of you know, calls for the spending of not $3 trillion over eight years per Joe Biden, but $10 trillion over 10 years to solve the climate crisis and build the just economy. So Ben, welcome to this webinar and tell us first, what are your thoughts about the Biden plan? And how might it be changed to think of better with the thriving agenda?
Ben Beachy 23:18
Thanks, Mike. And really glad to be with y’all. It’s a really pivotal moment. It’s hard to talk about this moment, without using hyperbole about the extent of the opportunity that comes for us. We really don’t get many chances like this. This is really truly a once in a generation opportunity to remake the economy. So what is our take on the American jobs plan?
I look at that question as Mike teed up and Leah teed up through the lens of something called the thrive agenda, which many of you are familiar with. But for those for whom thriving is new. Starting about a year ago, it was just when the pandemic started to spread across the United States, Union, racial justice, climate and other grassroots groups came together and began to assemble a bold Crossman plan for economic renewal, a plan to tackle mass unemployment, systemic racism, the climate crisis and public health all at the same time. In September, we launched this plan in a congressional resolution that came to be known as thrive. Over 100 members of Congress endorsed the plan, along with several 100 of the nation’s largest labor, racial justice and climate groups. Thanks to this broad backing, the Senate leader Chuck Schumer pledged that thrive would form part of the governing agenda for 2021. To fulfill those words last month, those same movement groups joined together with congressional leaders to launch the thrive act, a bill with a detailed plan to build an economy that actually fosters justice, not crisis. So over the last two weeks, activists have held over 200 events across the country, from Alaska to West Virginia, to call on their members of Congress to back a recovery package.
That is as bold in scale and rooted in justice as thriving. And right in the middle of all this organizing is actually the first day that people started organizing across the country that President Biden launched the American jobs plan.
The American jobs plan and thrive are singing from the same hymnal. Both of them start from the premise that we cannot afford to return to the pre pandemic normal, because normal was fundamentally unjust, unhealthy and unstable. Both of them offer solutions that are as interconnected as the crises we face. Recognizing that a strong jobs plan is a strong climate plan is a strong racial justice plan. So we see echoes of Thrive throughout Biden’s plan. And that’s why many of the movement groups as Mike and Leah spoke to many of the groups that have been working to thrive have been celebrating the American jobs plan as an encouraging start. And now we are asking Congress to go even bigger and bolder to match the scale of the crisis that we face. So thrive calls for an uncommon real plan to do three things that would be bold in scale, wide in scope, and strong and standards. The men do a quick overview of each of those and name how the American jobs plan stacks up. So first on scope. The thrive act calls for investments to be economy wide, so that we tackle pollution, unemployment and injustice in every sector that we find it. And here the American jobs plan largely delivers. I mean, this is not merely the pothole filling plan of 2021. Like thrive, the American jobs playing calls for replacing all lead pipes, electrifying Postal Service vehicles, expanding clean and affordable public transit, achieving 100%, carbon pollution and free electricity by 2035. As Leah spoke to upgrading millions of homes and buildings supporting clean manufacturing, creating a civilian climate corps to restore our lands and expand, expanding access to affordable care for the elderly. The only sector in thrive that American jobs plan omits is investing in regenerative agriculture, to support family, farmers and climate resilience. So that’s one area where Congress has the opportunity to go further.
Second standards, all these investments that I just named will create a ton of jobs. But job quality and job access are just as important as job quantity. The latest labor data we just crunched in a report last month shows that if we just pump money into the economy without strong labor and equity standards, we would be actively reinforcing the unjust status quo. In short, we would create millions of mostly mediocre non union jobs for predominantly white men.
Instead, both thrive and the American jobs plan recognizes that building a more just economy requires all of these investments to be paired with strong wage and benefit standards, access to unions, and equitable hiring that favors women and people of color.
And both thrive in American jobs playing Call for these investments to go first and foremost, to frontline communities who’ve endured decades of divestment due to redlining, exclusion and structural injustice, thrive specifically calls on Congress to dedicate at least half half of these investments to frontline communities.
Finally, to determine the scale of investments that thrive would call for us to ask the economist at the University of Massachusetts, how big this economic recovery package needs to be to meet our jobs, justice and climate goals. And you can find their analysis in the report that we launched last month, the economic modeling produce a very clear answer, $1 trillion per year, for a decade
$1 trillion per year would create and sustain over 15 million good jobs. That’s how many we need to create an end to the unemployment crisis and get the job to everyone who’s currently out of work. $1 trillion per year for a decade would cut our climate pollution kneeling in half by 2030. And $1 trillion per year with at least half going to frontline communities would meaningfully counteract systemic racism, and economic gender and environmental injustice. So scale is where we’re going to be focusing most in pushing Congress to go further than the American jobs plan, you know, at nearly $3 trillion, the American jobs plan is definitely large. It’s just not as large as the physical reality of the climate of the climate crisis, the economic reality of 15 million people being out of work, or the structural reality of systemic racism. It’s an encouraging start. And now in most sectors, Congress needs to take that investment amount and multiply it by three.
So use an architectural metaphor, Biden just lay down the foundation of this house we’re building. It’s a broad foundation. It’s a really strong foundation. Now it’s on Congress to build a couple of stories on top of it.
To see why scale matters, I’ll just use a couple of examples. First electric vehicles. The American jobs plan names $174 billion for electric vehicles again,
Good start and Congress needs to go further. Senator Schumer, for example, has a clean cars for America proposal that would invest nearly three times as much to replace over 63 million gas vehicles. So Congress should fully fund Schumer’s plan to replace 10s of millions of gas vehicles with clean electric vehicles, instead of leaving those gas vehicles on the road.
As another example, look at public housing. The American jobs plan includes a $40 billion investment in public housing, Congress should go further to upgrade the full public housing stock, which would cost about three times as much as reflected in the green new deal for public housing. Relative to the American jobs plan, investing at the full amount would improve living standards for an additional 1 million public housing residents, cut an additional 4 million metric tons of carbon emissions and create an additional over 100,000 good jobs. That is why scale matters.
Now, some people may argue that this call for Congress to go even bigger, bumps up against another reality that we face the political reality of our Congress. First of all, Joe Manchin has called for at least $4 trillion for this package. So we haven’t yet hit that current, that political ceiling.
But second, this political reality, unlike the physical reality of climate change is one that we can actually bend. And it’s on us to do that bending. And right now, as I started with, we have a bigger opportunity to bend Washington, then at any point I’ve seen in my career, there are precious few moments when all of the requirements for big structural change, line up, broad public support, strong organizing, elected leaders we can work with, and cross movement unity, now is one of those unicorn moments. So let’s seize it to bend Washington to deliver an economic renewal plan as big as the crisis we face.
Mike Tidwell 31:56
Ben, that was an incredibly great summary. And I’m especially encouraged that our good friend, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has set its sights and at least he has on record is setting sights even higher than that 2.8 trillion or the Biden plan.
I do I do want to say real quick, put it in a plug for Stephanie Kelton book, anyone who knows me knows I talked about this book all the time, the deficit myth, if you haven’t read it, you need to get it, you need to read it, you need to listen to it on books on tape. Because it makes clear we have the money. We have the money, we have the money for 10 trillion over 10 years, despite COVID spending despite deficit spending, yes, we can raise taxes as the President wants corporate tax rate taxes on folks making more than $400,000. But even beyond that, there’s so much capacity in the economy. There’s so many people unemployed, there’re so many factories, still not at full capacity, that inflation just isn’t a problem and isn’t expected to be a problem for a long time. And as long as inflation is kept in check. Honestly, deficits are a mess. They’re not a problem.
And deficit spending is just investments in society. So wonder, make a plug for Stephanie Kelton, plug the deficit. And I want to ask you, Ben, how can folks plug in with zero carb and others? What are some concrete steps people can do to make pushing the thrive agenda and getting the biggest Biden plan across the finish line? How can we make it part of part of our lives? What are a couple of things we can do as activists to get involved with your club?
Ben Beachy 33:42
Another great question, Mike. So I actually just dropped into the chat a link that helps to answer that question. So I mentioned that it was just last month, the same week, actually, that the American jobs plan drops.
The cross movement coalition that has been pushing thrive, drops and launched the thrive Act, which is a new bill that lays out in detail, how we can mobilize the public investments at the scale of the crisis that we face, with strong equity and labor standards attached to them to invest in, in bold climate, jobs and justice solutions across the entire economy. Right. That act, we’re trying this month in the month of April is a critical month to really shape what this congressional package is going to look like. So we’re calling on everyone to ask their members of Congress to indicate that we need a big bold package that is as big and interconnected with the crisis we face. By signing on to the Thrive Act, the more members of Congress, we get to sign on to the thrive acts, the more that we show that there is broad political support for going bigger and bolder. And now is the moment to do that. And so the plan is to really introduce this bold legislation towards the end of this month. And so right now is the critical window to get members of Congress
To sign on as original co sponsors of this legislation. And so that link I pasted in the chat is just an easy way to do that has called scripts if you want to call it has an email if you want to email has tweets, if you want to tweet it, you remember Congress to urge them to co sponsor the thrive but I can say go big and bold.
Mike Tidwell 35:16
Great and everyone who’s RSVP for today’s webinar, we’ll follow up with an email with all these links to Leah Stokes’s report on 100% clean electricity from evergreen to action items from Sierra Club, to sign petitions that will send you from seeking an Action Fund. So that all becomes in one email as a follow up to this webinar, including a recording of the webinar that we hope that you’ll share with your friends. So Ben beachy, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re now going to turn and focus a bit more on the equity and justice features built into the American jobs plan. We’ve invited Andre temenos to give us his thoughts today. Andreas is a longtime activist in his home county of Fairfax, Virginia, and a former staffer at the citizens climate lobby, he now serves as executive director of the group 2.0, whose mission is to advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in the American environmental movement and across corporations and governments. Andres welcome and what are your thoughts on the American jobs plan?
Andres Jimenez 36:23
Mike, we’re gonna start. Thank you so much for having me. This has been quite the amazing journey from the last time you and I spoke on a call like this, where we were pushing for something different to where we are now really bringing out what the change that Leah was talking about. You know, one of the things to keep in mind is, is it perfect? Is it exactly what we want? No, but boy, are we in a better place than we were this time last year. So that gives me hope. It should give your listeners hope I’m excited. But there is lots and lots to go through. So let’s get started. But an amazing job by Ben and Leo, so awesome to hear their comments, and hear what they had to say. So thank you for that. So first, I want to thank everyone for attending today’s discussion. I’m honored to be here. My name is Andres humanas. And I am the Executive Director, as Mike mentioned the green 2.0. So just to tell you a little bit about us green 2.0 is an organization that aims to hole environmental organizations and the people in charge of climate actions accountable for including the very people who are most affected by environmental issues, people of color.
For far too long decisions about environmental practices were made in communities of color that ultimately have long term consequences. rarely, if ever were people in those communities brought in to decide and implement those decisions. And that is why it’s important for the Biden administration to build a diverse coalition to ensure that frontline communities are centered. The American jobs plan has some key equity and justice related provisions, as Mike Lee and Ben mentioned, first and 85 billion investment in modernizing public transit. While emphasizing that communities of color are more likely to use public transit than their white counterparts. It’s essential the budgets understand how issues this proportionally impact communities of color. The plan also calls for 20 billion for a new program that allows communities harmed by highways and other infrastructure to have key decision making roles and new projects that promote access and advanced justice while addressing previous malpractices. There is also an investment in the healthy ports program to mitigate the impacts of air pollution on communities of color near ports. There is a 5 billion investment in the redevelopment of brownfields and Superfund sites with corresponding economic and workforce development plans. This includes funding to support community driven environmental justice efforts, emphasizing grants to address pollution, and other hazards frontline and fenceline communities are based. There is an 111 billion investment in ensuring clean and safe drinking water in all communities. We know that lead pipes and unsafe drinking water poisoned communities in Flint, Baltimore, Newark and that 9.2 million households in the nation still have lead pipes. This plan calls to replace all lead pipes in homes. It also caused calls to modernize wastewater and stormwater infrastructure across our nation and its territories. In this plan, there is also an emphasis on resilience in all services, including related to climate change and extreme weather to ensure related disasters that disproportional
Impact communities of color are both prevented and mitigated. There is a $50 billion investment in infrastructure resilience that includes building above codes, and a 100 billion investment in electric transmission infrastructure. As we continue to face extreme weather conditions like those we’ve seen in Texas, Puerto Rico and throughout our nation, we will need large investments and these kinds of projects. Additionally, as part of an $800 billion investment in schools, the administration is focused on building and operating school facilities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and spurred green spaces and safe air. In this plan, all schools environmentally speaking, would be a safe space for young people and communities to gather and learn. There is a $2 billion increase overall for the EPA, including 936 million for a new accelerating environmental and economic justice initiative. This includes a community air quality monitoring program that includes the investment in the water infrastructure that I discussed earlier. And investment in this EPA, in particular, is an investment in combating the climate crisis and supporting marginalized communities who have been ignored for far too long.
The plan seeks to build the capacity of the existing workforce by calling for a $100 billion investment in workforce development, infrastructure and worker protection. A key component of this is apprenticeships, creating roughly one to 2 million new apprenticeships and targeting those opportunities for people of color. This also includes key provisions on programs that support middle and high school students of color and connect them with STEM programs. through partnerships with employers in higher education. The plan calls for a $40 billion investment in a new program for dislocated, dislocated workers, which funds workers who have lost jobs through no fault of their own, to gain new skills and emergent sectors. Additionally, there’s a $12 billion investment in targeting workforce development opportunities in underserved communities that specifically calls out structural racism and urges that all clean jobs need to be accessible and open to communities of color.
The jobs plan also focuses on eliminating racial and
ethnic inequalities in research and development instead. In order to address this there is a $10 billion dollar investment in historically black colleges and universities and other institutions that serve students of color specifically, there is also an additional 15 billion investment in research and a billion dollar investment in research incubators to provide graduate fellowships and other opportunities to students of color. Lastly, as the plan looks forward to the future, it creates a $10 billion investment in the civilian climate corpse, which is tasked to serve and kind of as conservation and resilience workers who conserve public lands, and advanced environmental justice with a strong emphasis on diversity in that workforce. There are also examples of a plan that reflects and understands the need for under-representative communities to have a just transition and clean energy economy. This coupled with the Justice 40 plan to ensure that 40% of all of the benefits of relevant federal investments go toward disadvantaged communities. And the goal of establishing an environmental justice scorecard shows a commitment to beginning to address the root causes of an environmental malpractice, diversified and diversifying the environmental movement during a time when the administration has pledged 40% of the Climate Action Plan to frontline communities is vital. With this plan measuring benefits over funding it requires for the administration to work directly with environmental organizations. If these organizations aren’t as diverse as the communities impacted. Mike, how can we ensure these plans are effective? Study after study shows that communities of color suffer from our dirty energy economy, the air is more polluted, the water is more dirty. And these communities often live near toxic waste sites. The oil and gas industry dumped 9 million tons of methane and toxic pollutants into the air each year disproportionately impacting the health of these communities. If anyone can address these issues, it’s the people that live it. These are the people that should have positions at all levels of environmental organizations, people of color care about the environment, but their expertise and knowledge often aren’t tapped into it. We are seeing progress in the movement.
As shown in our last report card, but there’s still a long way to go. This is why we’re expanding the number of organizations we serve a greentube window from 40 to 80. This year. This is exciting because as the movement grows and climate increases climate action increases, we can continue to hold accountable organizations accountable to do the right thing. Environmental leaders cannot claim to care for the future of the planet while ignoring so many. Mike, we must work for change. But we also must keep in mind that this change needs to be accelerated.
Mike Tidwell 45:33
Thank you so much. Andre. I know I know why you began with the question, Where do I begin? And there’s so much to like in this plan? There really is and you enumerated a lot of them under the heading of equity and justice.
I do think though your work at Green 2.0. It’s so pivotal. If folks haven’t checked out green 2.0 check out their website, and sign up for their email alerts. Because Andreas and his staff are doing amazing work, holding groups accountable to implement a vision of a truly just and fair build that better vision and I think you’re right Andres, how are we going to implement these plans were 40% of benefits and investments go to disadvantaged communities, if our groups themselves are diverse and and include them. So thank you for your work. Thank you for joining us, and drop your website in the chat. And we’re all included in the follow up email that we send to everyone. But thank you again, Andre 10 minutes, Executive Director of green 2.0. And now we will move to our last speaker. And let’s move back to the topic of jobs and these closing minutes. Climate policy is a jobs policy. So says the white house so we thought we would ask one more speaker to touch on some of the jobs components of the American jobs plan that haven’t been covered in full yet including how this plan would create jobs in the critical state of West Virginia. And so Quintin Scott is the federal policy associate of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and secant Action Fund. Before coming to see Karen Quintin worked as a legislative staffer on Capitol Hill and served as Chief of Staff, right, state senator in his home state of Illinois Quinten What else do we need to know about jobs within the American jobs plan?
Quentin Scott 47:38
Thank you for that introduction, Mike. Really appreciate it. And labor is going to be a big part of the American jobs plan. And so the American jobs plan is a pro worker plan designed to address climate change and get America back to manufacturing. The plan impacts labor across multiple sectors from repairing roads and bridges, retrofitting buildings for efficiency, upgrading electric grid and replacing 100% of lead pipes and much much more. My analysis plan in Pittsburgh surrounded by labor, he recognizes we don’t have to choose between good paying union jobs and doing what’s necessary to tackle the climate crisis. We have a moment to do it all. His policies have been proposed with labor in mind and labor at the table. Biden’s plan will create high quality jobs with prevailing wages come with worker protections in our field with workers from communities where the projects are located. How will Biden actually accomplish this? Which is the big question. The American jobs plan calls on Congress to pass the protecting the right to organize act or the proact. The proact would allow us to override so called Right to Work laws and over two dozen states can collect dues from those who opt out in order to cover the cost of collective bargaining would make employee interference and influence and union elections illegal would allow newly certified unions to seek arbitration and mediation and to settle impasses in negotiations. prevent any employer from using an employee’s immigration status against them to determine their employment establishes monetary penalties for companies and executives that violate workers rights. The house has already passed it proactive March now we need to send it to do the same. In addition to supporting the pro it the American jobs plan provides $10 billion for labor enforcement and increased penalties and employees violate workplace safety and health rules. The plan provides $25 billion to upgrade childcare facilities and build new ones. The plan also creates tax credits for businesses that build childcare facilities providing employees with greater access to on site childcare. This would ease the pressure of working parents and allow greater participation in the workforce. The American jobs plan has $500 billion to build out renewable energy 230 213
billion dollars to build 2 million low emission and affordable homes $175 billion towards electric vehicle adoption 80 billion to improve rail services and passengers for passengers and freight. These historic investments come with attachment requirements for prevailing wages. Like I mentioned, buy American made materials to rebuild infrastructure, job training, and strong labor and installation standards. Here at Chesapeake Climate Action Network, we see how jobs are going to impact West Virginia. In West Virginia, there’s 1500 bridges and over 3200 miles of highway in poor conditions. 24% of West Virginians live in an area with no broadband infrastructure to deliver acceptable speeds low income families spend 10 to 12% of their income and for their home energy costs by retooling West Virginia’s economy, we can create 50,000 jobs in the first year alone according to the new jobs, West Virginia new jobs coalition, over 16,000 jobs in manufacturing 6400 drives and clean energy 2400 jobs and building retrofitting buildings for efficiency and 6000 jobs in the care industry. The American jobs plan for $16 billion to cap abandoned oil wheels, oh wells and continue to leak methane into the air and contaminate waterways. In West Virginia alone, it is estimated that 440,000 abandoned wells exist and require 3500 workers to plug them. Like Andreas mentioned already $10 billion to the civilian climate courts, which will put young people to work and good union jobs and pass environmental justice and build community resilience and preserve public lands. We hear the question all the time in West Virginia. What about the coal miners? Well, the American jobs plan supports a just transition, which will ease the cost and hardships that some workers and communities will face as we transition away from fossil fuels. The plan invests 100 million in workforce development and infrastructure 40 billion of that 100 billion with support workers who have lost their jobs for no fault of their own, and to provide Career Services and skill development for jobs and clean energy and other sectors. Another $48 billion to strengthen connections between high schools and community colleges and technical schools and additional 12 billion explicitly target workers penalised by structural racism and economic inequities, especially people of color women, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
To create an economy of the future we must meet. Our climate goes by creating windmills, solar panels, batteries, electric charge stations, plug orphan oils and more. But these technologies don’t come out of nowhere, we need to work with people to build, install and maintain these technologies for decades to come. And Biden’s American jobs plan gets that done. And that’s why it’s so essential that we tell Congress that they need to support Biden’s American jobs plan so we can get this historic moment pass.
Mike Tidwell 53:10
Thank you Quentin. I mean, just just hearing what this plan will do for West Virginia alone is amazing. We have talked for years and our movement about investing in communities, investing in transition, investing in healthcare, investing in, in equity, and the features that you just named are amazing. I had no idea Additionally, that there are that many unplugged wells, or leaking wells in West Virginia alone. I know the other day, Joe Biden, throughout the figure of the number of uncapped wells across the country. And he, after he stated that number, he just said, what are we doing? You know, it’s just the way he said it? What are we doing? Why are we letting these wells leak that those are jobs that not only benefit workers, but benefit the climate? So thank you, Clinton very much for that for that update. And now I’m just gonna pitch it back to Jimmy DeMarco, federal policy director. He can tell us, Jamie, one last time, what are some things that folks on the call can do to be part of this historic moment? I mean, I thought that Ben Beachy put it so well, it is so rare that you have public support. You have a broad coalition, ready to work at the same time that you have leaders ready to take action. I mean, we cannot blow this, y’all. We can’t. We cannot blow this moment. And so Jamie, tell us what we can do.
Jamie DeMarco 54:47
Thanks, Mike. Yeah, this has been incredible. I’ve learned a lot and I am blown away because in the past half an hour or so. The folks on this call have gotten seven more organizations to sign
The resolution supporting 100% clean electricity by 2035. So we are not just here listening, we’re like doing the work as we’re listening. This is like, superhuman group of people we got right here, though I know we put a bunch of links in the chat. And so everything people have shared is going to be shared in an email afterwards. And we really encourage you to, you know, check out diverse screen, check out the thrive agenda at Sierra Club. These are the incredible people and incredible organizations that are doing exactly what the world needs right now, the last thing that we’re going to put in the chat, it’s just an opportunity to message your senator about
You know, I think the message is going to be pre filed, or prefilled, to talk about 100% clean electricity by 2035. But if you want to talk about five agenda, if you want to talk about replacing lead pipes, whatever
you want your senator to know about the American jobs plan, and how important it is to pass and how it needs to be stronger. Still, just put that in the message and let your senator know, you know, we all know senators get a lot of emails, but it still counts, and it still matters. And like I said, it only works if we work from the grassroots up.
Mike Tidwell 56:07
Thank you, Jamie. And I want to thank everyone for joining us all across the country. I want to thank especially our members in the states of Maryland, Virginia, DC and West Virginia who’ve joined the call. They’re very many of you on this call. Thank you. Thanks for everyone watching on Facebook Live and YouTube. Thank you, Leah Stokes, it is always great to get recharged by your great passion for these issues. Thank you, Leah Stokes of evergreen action. Quintin Scott, of course, if you can, then Vici we’re going to bug the heck out of you to give versions of that of the things that you said on this call over and over again in different formats. Same with you, Andre, 10 minutes of green 2.0. Thank you all. And Jamie DeMarco of C can and we will be in touch will be a follow up email, we’re going to answer some of your questions that we were not able to get to that were posted in the q&a, we’ll do that in a follow up email. And everybody stayed close, we got a lot of work to do. This is the sprint we told ourselves over the years, over the years, solving climate change, we can’t burn ourselves out. It’s a marathon we got to. We got to know one stuff in front of the other. But right now it is a sprint between now and the August recess, when Nancy Pelosi and others have said they want to wrap this, this American jobs plan up, which means we’ve got to work. You know, sleep is overrated, you know, get as much as you can. But, you know, let’s, let’s do everything we can to get this path. Let’s make this part of our life. Let’s tell our friends. Let’s get our group signed on to these ladders. It’s worth the extra effort because our grandkids and kids are going to ask us what we did in that moment when all these historic threads came together, and we had that rare once in a generation chance to really, really, really change society and save our planet. That’s the moment we’re in right now. Every second is precious. Thank you for spending a few other seconds with us today. We’re honored to have you with us and we will be in touch. And everybody. Have a great day. See you later.
Charles Olsen 58:43
Thanks for listening to the upside down. This podcast is produced by me, Charlie Olson. with incredible support from the entire weekend staff. Check out the show notes for links to all the things discussed in this episode. If you want to know more about how you can get involved with seeking in the climate fight, check out our website at Chesapeake climate.org. If you want to get in touch with us, follow us on instagram and twitter at sea kin. And if you enjoy the work we do, why don’t you share us with your friends. Sharing the show is a super easy way to help spread the word about the work we’re doing in the fight for bold climate actions. Thanks again for listening. I’ll see you next time.