Lee, Titus call on Biden to carve out and pass BBB climate provisions

By: - February 11, 2022 6:15 am

Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) speaking during an event last year with House Democrats and other climate activists to highlight the aspects of the Build Back Better Act that focus on combating climate change. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A group of House Democrats, including Nevada Reps. Susie Lee and Dina Titus, are calling on President Joe Biden to carve out the climate portions of the stalled Build Back Better bill and “finalize the most comprehensive legislation that can pass the Senate.”

Biden’s Build Back Better package included major investments in clean energy and climate, but Democratic, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia doomed the $1.85 trillion spending bill, in part over his opposition to extending the expanded child tax credit. The expansion passed in 2021 as part of a stimulus package, and expired at the end of the year.

“Manchin opposed the bill in its current form, but we’re not done,” Susie Lee said Thursday during a virtual meeting with environmental advocates. “There are pieces of that legislation that he does support.”

Lee, Titus, and 20 other House Democrats, predominantly moderates in competitive races this election cycle, sent a letter last week to Biden urging him to build off the $555 billion in climate investments included in the Build Back Better Act and pass comprehensive climate legislation.

In the letter, Democrats outlined the debilitating effects climate change has created including “more severe drought and wildfires in the West” and “higher levels of smog in our cities and longer and more severe heat waves.”

“The time for you to work with the Senate to finalize and pass the strongest and most comprehensive version of the Build Back Better Act that can get 50 Senate votes is right now,” read the letter.

On Thursday during an event organized by the Nevada Conservation League, Lee called climate change “an existential issue” that will require major change to achieve carbon reduction. 

“This is an ongoing battle,” Lee said, during a virtual Zoom call. “To me there is no more important issue.” 

The House-passed version of the Build Back Better legislation included a dedicated $320 billion in new and extended clean energy tax credits and a consumer tax credit for electric vehicles.

It would also create a new climate conservation corps program to spur entry-level jobs in conservation and climate resiliency work and make changes to federal oil and gas policy.

With negotiations continuing among the White House, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, it’s too early to say what climate provisions would be part of a reworked bill.

Lee said climate investment passed through the bipartisan $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act have shown the success of legislation centered on addressing climate change.

Nevada will receive more than $5 million in funding this year under the bipartisan bill to install electric vehicle charging stations along its key roads and highways, an endeavor that will lead to the creation of good-paying union jobs, said Lee. Over the next five years, Nevada will receive a total of $38 million in charging station investments. 

Lee also touted the inclusion of her Large-Scale Water Recycling Project Investment Act in the bipartisan bill which establishes a competitive federal grant program for large-scale water recycling projects that have a total estimated cost of at least $500 million.

“It’s such a huge issue for Southern Nevada dealing with our severe drought on the Colorado River,” Lee said. “There is one such project that is beginning right now in Southern California that the Southern Nevada Water Authority will go in on a partnership with.”

The Regional Recycled Water Program is expected to produce enough purified water to sustain nearly 500,000 homes in Southern Nevada.

Legislation centered on clean energy and climate change will only benefit Nevada’s economy, said Lee. 

Nevada has more than 6,100 solar energy jobs, the most per capita in the U.S., according to a recent report based on U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, about 55% of all energy sector jobs were in clean energy, seven times more jobs than fossil fuels in the state, according to a report by the environmental business group E2. Additionally, 17% of construction jobs in Nevada were in clean energy occupations, from solar installers to electricians.

“With our natural resources of sun and wind we can become an even more significant leader in exporting clean energy,” Lee said. 

Business leaders in the solar industry spoke at the virtual town hall about the importance of the Energy Investment Tax Credit to Nevada businesses, which provides a tax credit for clean energy systems. The credit is set to expire at the end of 2023 unless Congress renews it.

“We know they are expiring,” Lee said. “These were issues we were hoping to get past the Senate.”

“We have to make it affordable for people to make that transition and in order to do that you have to have those types of incentives. Knowing they are going to expire, making sure we get an extension on those will be a big priority,” Lee said.

“We passed Build Back Better in the House,” Lee said. “Obviously it did not pass the Senate but, I will say, it’s not over.”

Article was updated with a link to the town hall organized by the Nevada Conservation League.

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Jeniffer Solis
Jeniffer Solis

Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.

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