MEMO: How the Build Back Better Act’s climate and environmental justice provisions will improve lives

Contact: Emily Samsel, esamsel@lcv.org, 828-713-9647

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Matthew Davis, LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs
DATE: December 17, 2021
RE: How the Build Back Better Act’s climate and environmental justice provisions will improve lives

While the focus in Washington these days is understandably on Senate negotiations of the Build Back Better Act, the holiday break presents an opportunity to step back and talk with family and friends about what’s actually in the bill that’s occupying so much of the news cycle.

Yes, the Build Back Better Act will be the strongest climate legislation in U.S. history, create good-paying union jobs, and build a healthier, more equitable clean energy future – but what exactly do these claims mean for the average person? Considering the size and scope of this legislation, we at LCV think it’s critically important to spell out the real-life benefits of the Build Back Better Act. It’s why we’re doing things like installing a supersized advent calendar filled with LEGO sculptures of 25 of the bill’s benefits at Union Market in D.C. (swing by this weekend!), and continuing to run unprecedented organizing and paid media programs to educate the public about the opportunities for their families and communities if their representatives in Congress support this bill. While the critical extension of the Child Tax Credit – which is currently set to expire this year – has gotten some necessary coverage, it’s clear that there’s an information gap when it comes to the many other benefits of the Build Back Better Act.

As political developments continue to unfold in the days and weeks to come, we encourage reporters and other experts to also cover the real and meaningful impacts communities would feel quickly upon bill passage. Here are just some of the tangible ways the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act will improve life and cut costs for the average person:

  • On average, the Build Back Better Act will save families $500 a year on their energy bills.
  • It reduces the price of installing solar panels on home roofs by an average of $7,000, and reduces the price an additional $2,500 for low- and middle-income homeowners.
  • The bill will make electric vehicles far more affordable. Car buyers can save up to $12,500 on the purchase of a new electric vehicle, and up to $4,000 on the purchase of a used electric vehicle. In fact, those who purchase a new electric Chevy Bolt, Ford Mustang Mach-E, or Ford F-150 Lightning would save up to $230 a month in owning and operating costs compared to a similar gasoline-burning vehicle over the course of an average six year loan.
  • And charging electric vehicles will become easier than ever, with the influx of 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across the country thanks to the recently passed infrastructure bill.
  • The bill incentivizes creating more, good-paying jobs here in the U.S. – so the average person can expect to see more opportunities for clean manufacturing jobs in the U.S. with companies who are building clean technologies here at home, with U.S. made parts, including assembling electric vehicles with union workers empowered to collectively bargain.
  • The average person will see improved public transit options including more accessible, cleaner, more frequent public buses and metro lines – and reduced fares for this improved public transit for people in low wealth communities will open up new opportunities.
  • Working class families can save up to $8,000 weatherizing their homes, which will lower their energy costs, reduce draftiness, and cut indoor air pollution.
  • Homeowners can save up to $10,000 replacing home heating and cooling systems with more efficient and clean electric systems, reducing indoor air pollution within your home, lowering the climate impact of your home, and saving your family money.
  • Combined with the investments we passed in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better Act will provide 3 million kids with clean rides to school by converting 60,000 diesel school buses to clean electric school buses — thus protecting the health of children riding the bus and the health of communities the buses pass through.
  • Communities on the frontlines of legacy environmental and health hazards will receive major grants to reduce pollution and climate threats. The Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants program could help local groups turn polluted or vacant lots into things frontline communities need and want, like health clinics, affordable housing, grocery stores, neighborhood parks, and community gardens.
  • Between the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act, dangerous lead pipes in homes and schools across the country will be replaced, ensuring people can trust that the water coming from their taps is safe and clean.
  • The bill cuts the price of an electric bike by up to $900 and boosts employee benefits for biking to work, reducing local air pollution and encouraging a healthier, more active lifestyle.
  • Churches, hospitals, schools, local governments, and other nonprofits will have the opportunity to install wind and solar power for 30% less than the normal cost.

As is laid out here, the Senate has an opportunity right now to take overwhelmingly popular action on climate that lowers costs for middle class families – every Senator should want to get behind the Build Back Better Act in its entirety and quickly send it to President Biden’s desk. Climate catastrophes are devastating our communities right now and further delay is unacceptable.

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