Memo: Build Back Better is Good Climate Policy and Good Climate Politics 

Courtnee Connon, 727-744-4163, courtnee_connon@lcv.org

To: Interested Parties
From: Carol M. Browner and Gene Karpinski
Date: October 29, 2021
Re: Build Back Better is Good Climate Policy and Good Climate Politics 

With the framework for the Build Back Better Act set, President Biden and Congress need to work together to finish the job and deliver the transformative investments in climate and environmental justice that voters across the country are counting on. This overwhelmingly popular bill is Congress’ opportunity to save their constituents $500 a year on their energy bills, create good-paying union jobs, and build a healthy, more equitable clean energy future — all while slowing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. 

The climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act are both good policy and good politics. The good policies include a robust clean energy tax package, unprecedented environmental justice investments, clean vehicle incentives, conservation and restoration investments that reduce emissions and store carbon, and so much more. This historic bill will be, by far, the strongest action the United States has ever taken to combat the climate crisis. And with the Build Back Better Act as law combined with strong regulatory authority, private sector, and state actions, the U.S. will finally be on track to cut our climate pollution in half by 2030.  

We cannot afford not to pass this bill. The U.S. incurred $104 billion in damages from extreme weather disasters in the first eight months of 2021 alone. The cost of investing in climate action is minimal compared to the cost of inaction. We also know there is a political cost to failure — people across the nation overwhelmingly support climate action, and they elected leaders who promised to tackle the climate crisis. Voters expect these promises to be fulfilled.

As has been shown in poll after poll, the Build Back Better Act and its climate and clean energy components are overwhelmingly popular:

  • 71% of Americans said it’s important that Congress passes the Build Back Better plan.
  • 7 in 10 (71%) likely voters support government investments in creating good-paying clean energy jobs. This includes 91% of Democrats, 68% of independents, and even 50% of Republicans.
  • 72% support ensuring that government investments in clean energy deliver economic benefits to low-income communities and communities of color. 
  • 61% of registered voters support provisions in the Build Back Better Act to provide “tax breaks for renewable energy, including for electric vehicles.”
  • 65% of likely voters support provisions in the Build Back Better plan to provide tax credits for clean energy projects, like solar and wind energy. This includes 81% of Democrats, 67% of independents, and a plurality (46%) of Republicans.
  • 86% of Latino voters support a legislative package that meets the Climate Test and prioritizes clean energy, justice, and jobs. 

Polling has also shown that people are prepared to make public officials pay a political price:

  • Recent polling of battleground House districts by ALG Research found that voters “are prepared to reward members of Congress who support the Build Back Better Agenda, and vote against those who don’t. Battleground district voters say they are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who backs the reconciliation plan by 15 points (52% more / 37% less), and are prepared to punish those who oppose it by 11 points (36% more / 47% less).”
  • Another recent poll of battleground districts by Hart Research found that voters view addressing climate change and increasing use of clean energy as highly important elements of this legislation. Sixty-three percent (63%) say that addressing climate change should be an important priority for the president and Congress this year, a reflection of the fact that a large majority say that climate change is a cause of extreme weather events.

That’s why, for only the second time in LCV history, we sent a letter to members of Congress stating that LCV Action Fund will only consider endorsements for members of Congress in their next election who support the necessary provisions and a final reconciliation package that enables the U.S. to cut its carbon pollution in half by 2030. 

We learned from our failure to pass climate legislation in 2009 and ran an unprecedented campaign this summer and fall with an $8 million field organizing effort in 12 states and Washington D.C. and  invested more than $40.5 million in national, state, and district-specific paid media this year with partner group Climate Power. From dozens of events with members of Congress, cabinet officials, and other federal and local leaders, to field teams knocking over 326,000 doors in key states, to engagement with more than 11,520 small businesses, to town hall advocacy, to butter and ice sculpture art activations, to hundreds of paid TV and digital ads, LCV and our state affiliates and partners left nothing on the table. 

Now, it’s time for Congress to finish the job and enact this historic and transformative legislation into law. 

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