Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, a bill that, if passed by the U.S. Senate, will deliver significant investments in Appalachian families and workers and create jobs bringing cleaner energy to our communities and making our region more resilient in the face of climate change.
The Build Back Better Act, also known as reconciliation, contains groundbreaking measures to address the climate crisis and makes significant investments to support communities in the midst of a big economic transition with the downturn of the coal industry. The bill will vastly increase access to solar power and energy efficiency in Appalachia and across the country, making clean energy much more widely available to people, businesses and communities from every walk of life.
“We are truly right on the cusp of doing something transformational for the planet we’re leaving our kids, for working families, and for communities that have given so much to the nation. We need to lean into that, keep calling our senators, and get this over the finish line. Then we’ll be able to roll up our sleeves and dig in on the big job of implementation,” said Tom Cormons, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices and a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
Appalachian senators and representatives have been powerful in the negotiation process for this bill. Provisions in the Build Back Better Act that will directly benefit Appalachian communities include:
- Expanding access to rooftop solar and weatherization assistance for low- and moderate-income families by extending the Investment Tax Credit and adding residential direct pay to make this benefit accessible to all, as well as additional grants and tax credits to encourage solar projects in low-income and tribal communities.
- Funding to help rural electric cooperatives retire costly fossil fuel power plants and replace them with affordable, job-creating, and accessible renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- Important environmental justice investments to increase access to clean energy for disadvantaged communities, including the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator.
- Incentives to make communities more resilient to climate change impacts like flooding while creating jobs through investments in forestry, soil conservation and agriculture.
- A four-year extension of the Black Lung Excise Tax, which provides funding for healthcare and benefits for coal miners who have contracted this deadly, and increasingly widespread, disease.
“This bill reflects the fact that our region’s champions in the House worked closely with Appalachian groups to hear about our priorities and the investments we want to see for our region, and made sure many of these priorities are included in the Build Back Better Act,” said Chelsea Barnes, Legislative Director with Appalachian Voices. “We urge swift passage of the Build Back Better Act in the Senate.”
Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.