Climate change is an urgent health crisis. It’s harming our communities and our families right now. As the tornado that ripped through my tiny town in Southern New Jersey earlier this month showed us—climate change is literally knocking on our doors, destroying homes, drowning people inside their apartments, and more.
We need a cleaner future, and we need climate safety for our children and future generations. Right now, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make historic investments in addressing the climate crisis. The Build Back Better Act is a massive investment package containing many of President Biden’s policy priorities, including multiple critical climate and health provisions that would put our families on a path toward climate safety.
As Congress negotiates the final version of the Build Back Better Act, which is being moved forward in the form of a budget reconciliation package, we’ve highlighted some of the provisions we support here:
The Build Back Better Act would provide $265 million to address air pollution by investing in fenceline monitoring of polluting facilities, expanding national ambient air quality monitoring, investing in air quality sensors in low-income and disadvantaged communities, monitoring methane emissions, and addressing air pollution at schools.
The Build Back Better Act calls for $5 billion for zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles, with 40% of the funds designated for communities located in areas of nonattainment.
More than 39 million people live near ports. The heavy trucks, vessels, and other machinery at ports emit harmful pollution, like diesel and nitrogen oxides. It is critical that we clean up the pollution created by the heavy machinery used in ports. The Build Back Better Act will provide $3.5 billion for zero-emission port equipment and technology. It will also require that climate action plans be created, with funding prioritized for areas in nonattainment.
The Build Back Better Act will also invest $170 million to reduce diesel emissions through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act, which funds grants and rebates that reduce harmful emissions from diesel engines.
The Build Back Better Act would invest $9.9 billion in affordable housing programs for disadvantaged and low-income communities. These funds can be used for investments in zero-emission buses and infrastructure. There is $3.95 billion for neighborhood access and equity grants to reduce transportation-related air pollution. $50 million would go toward community climate incentive grants, to establish a program that requires States to set performance targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Also included in the Build Back Better Act is $1 billion for alternative fuel and low-emission aviation technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from jet fuel. There are also funds dedicated to transitioning our federal fleet of vehicles, like our postal service vehicles, to zero-emission vehicles.
Addressing Environmental Justice Impacts From Legacy Pollution
Pollution disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color. The Build Back Better Act will make historic investments in addressing environmental injustice by designating $10 billion for cleaning up Superfund sites, $10 billion to address toxic chemicals in schools, $750 million for reducing waste in communities, and $5 billion specifically for low-income or disadvantaged communities to invest in pollution monitoring, zero-emission infrastructure, and emissions reductions from the transportation sector. This money will help communities become more climate resilient and will create community-led pollution prevention programs.
Wildfire smoke is hazardous to our health, and breathing in smoke from wildfires can be deadly. Climate change is making wildfires more frequent and severe. The Build Back Better Act will provide $10 billion to hazardous fuel reduction projects to mitigate wildfire risk, $9 billion will go toward non-federal land reforestation, $4 billion to prevent the spread of wildfire to at-risk communities, and $2.25 billion to a Civilian Climate Corps for managing National Forest System land. In addition, $900 million is dedicated to wildfire management for Bureau of Land Management lands, $150 million will help communities prepare for wildfire smoke and mitigate the health effects through wildfire air grants, and $100 million will go toward tribal wildfire prevention.
Addressing Lead in Drinking Water
When it comes to lead in our drinking water, there is no safe limit. However, more than 6 million families are drinking water in their homes that has passed through a lead pipe. The Build Back Better Act would provide funding to replace every lead service line in America.
Investing in clean energy now is critical to addressing the climate crisis and putting us on a path toward climate safety. The Clean Electricity Payment Program (CEPP), a program that incentivizes clean energy using federal payments and fees that will help utilities add more clean energy to the grid every year, will add jobs and tax revenue to local governments while driving massive investment in new solar, wind, and other clean energy projects. The Build Back Better Act will invest $30 billion for Department of Energy loan and grant programs, deliver $10 billion for transportation electrification with a focus on low-income and disadvantaged communities, $9 billion in rebates to homeowners for whole-house energy retrofits, $3.5 billion for building efficiency and resilience, $3 billion for vehicle manufacturing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, $2.5 billion for low-income solar, $2 billion for zero-emission vehicle infrastructure buildout, and $500 million for state energy plans, among a host of other really important investments.
Investing in Public Health
The Build Back Better Act will help improve the health of pregnant women and their babies, because it includes all eligible provisions from the Black Maternal Health “Momnibus” Act, which would address maternal health disparities and birth equity, including the impacts of climate change–related maternal and infant health risks, through an $85 million investment. It also includes $175 million in grants to address social determinants of maternal health, including environmental conditions.
Investing in Schools
Children spend a large portion of their waking hours on school property, where they can be exposed to mold, poor air quality, tailpipe pollution, pesticides, cleaning supplies, and other potential health harms. The Build Back Better Act will invest $1.27 billion to rebuild America’s schools. This will address the health, safety, education equity, enrollment diversity, environmental sustainability, and climate resiliency of public schools with funds prioritized toward schools that serve low-income students. In addition, $369 million will be dedicated to the Bureau of Indian Education, to ensure schools located on Tribal lands are also benefiting from these resources.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
The Build Back Better Act will create millions of clean energy jobs in all sectors of the economy and in every state in the US. $10 billion will go toward grants to expand workforce development and employment opportunities for high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industry sectors. This investment will be targeted to areas with high unemployment rates. The bill will also create new employment opportunities in the sciences, engineering, and technology development.
Oil and Gas Provisions
Methane emissions are a major source of harmful climate pollution, and the pollutants that accompany leaking methane pose major health risks. The Build Back Better Act would create a fee for methane pollution from oil and gas production, processing, and transmission. The fee would provide an incentive for oil and gas operators to reduce methane leaks.
Tax credits in the Build Back Better Act will support the transition to clean energy and clean transportation. Tax credits would be created for purchasing electric vehicles, including heavy-duty vehicles, as well as investing in solar or wind energy to power a home or business.
These are just a few of the many provisions in the Build Back Better Act that moms are watching.