MEMO: Bold Investments in Clean Energy, Equity, and Emissions Reduction Will Boost Energy Security and Cut Costs


*** Senior Sierra Club policy staff and leadership, along with grassroots volunteers, are available to discuss the urgent need for Congress to take meaningful action on climate, care, jobs, and justice. *** 

Never has it been more crucial for Congress to pass a sweeping suite of investments in climate, care, jobs, and justice than now, as the country faces dramatically rising prices and energy insecurity.

As Russia pushes its attacks, Ukrainians are losing their lives, their family members, and their sense of a safe community to call home, and it's critical that the people of Ukraine receive support. Russia's aggression also underscores the urgent need to avoid expanding and prolonging the dependency on fossil fuels that has exacerbated this crisis and to instead invest in secure sources of homegrown, affordable, clean energy. 

Earlier this month, in his first State of the Union address, President Biden doubled down on his clear commitment to investing in clean energy, reducing pollution, cutting costs for working families, creating good jobs, and promoting environmental justice. Congress must swiftly move forward with a historic suite of investments in communities and families struggling with the interlocking crises of climate change, health, rising costs, economic inequity, and racial and environmental injustice.

The latest report on the worsening climate crisis from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change serves as a clarion call for decisive climate action — which must prioritize investments in the communities of color and low-income communities that are hit hardest by pollution, climate-fueled disasters, and systemic injustice.

Climate investments will cut costs for families struggling with rising prices, while also supporting deficit reduction for the federal government. By expanding affordable sources of clean energy, climate investments will shave $500 off the average family’s annual utility bills. In addition, the cost of climate inaction far outweighs the cost of investments in climate action. Investing in climate resilience would help communities mitigate costly damage from climate disasters while reducing the fiscal burden that such disasters place on the government’s budget. That includes investing in urban green spaces to prevent flooding, restoring wetlands to buffer hurricanes, protecting houses from forest fires, and shielding coastlines from sea level rise. A bold package of investments in climate, care, jobs, and justice will also immediately reduce the national deficit by being more than fully paid for. Such legislation could cut government deficits as soon as it takes effect by, for example, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.

It's long past time for Congress to pass bold legislation that ensures communities across the country get the investments they need to tackle and adapt to the many crises they face at the speed and scale that justice and science demand. There's a path forward for a critical package of public investments to pass the Senate and House this spring. President Biden and congressional Democrats know they need to deliver on the transformational vision they've laid out, and we urge them to keep moving forward with making this vision a reality.


  • Clean Energy Tax Credits
    In his State of the Union address, President Biden spoke about tackling climate change with urgency. As part of that pledge, he called for a package of clean energy tax credits that would not only curb emissions but also cut energy costs for American families by $500 annually and boost American manufacturing, including by doubling the production in wind and solar. This package would also create millions of jobs, spur clean economic growth, and avoid trillions of dollars in future climate costs. It's past time for Congress to seize the opportunity and pass these investments in America. Clean energy is a source of energy security and self-reliance. The products that make up our clean energy portfolio are potentially subject to negative geopolitical forces unless we start to change that with proactive investments.

  • Investments in Environmental Justice
    President Biden's State of the Union was the first time a U.S. president has called on Congress to take action on environmental justice. Extensive investments are far overdue and essential to improving the health and economic vitality of communities that have long borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution and racial injustice. Together, these investments could support environmental and climate justice block grants and other programs to clean up pollution and create healthy, toxic-free communities, healthy ports, and climate-resilient and energy-efficient affordable housing. We should also invest in pollution-free energy and transit, trucks, and buses, a Civilian Climate Corps to create clean energy and resilience jobs in communities, research and development infrastructure at historically Black colleges and universities, community engagement to implement the National Environmental Protection Act, and more. Sierra Club is honored to work alongside EJ leaders in our work with the Equitable and Justice National Climate Platform and Forum; see our full list of asks at Equitable & Just National Climate Platform.

  • Investments in Clean Transportation
    The transportation sector is the biggest climate emitter in the U.S. and a significant source of toxic air pollution. Slashing emissions at the rate the climate crisis requires means we must fully electrify cars, trucks, and buses while making it easier for people to get around without driving — through reliable public transit and infrastructure for safe walking and biking. That means it’s crucial that we cut the price of an electric vehicle by a $12,500 credit for working and middle-class families while supporting electric vehicle manufacturing at unionized U.S. factories. For every 100 additional jobs in the motor vehicle manufacturing sector, over 1,400 jobs are supported or created — not only throughout the supply chain, but also in the local economies those jobs and businesses reinforce. We must also encourage adoption of electric bikes, a great replacement to cars, by cutting the price of an electric bike by up to $900 for working and middle-class families while boosting the benefits that employers offer for biking to work. Kids deserve a clean commute to school, so it’s past time we convert more than 60,000 diesel school buses to clean electric buses so schoolchildren can breathe clean air. We must treat public transit like the civil right and climate solution it is, meaning making public buses and metro lines cleaner, more frequent, and more accessible for affordable housing residents. The Postal Service is trying to keep us locked onto fossil fuels for decades by purchasing a new fleet of gas powered trucks. It’s time to convert 70% of U.S. Postal Service mail trucks to clean electric vehicles to reduce air and climate pollution in communities across the country. We can move away from congested highways by offering alternatives like high-speed rail; imagine a high-speed rail line that would let people travel from Houston to Dallas in 90 minutes by train instead of driving in traffic for four hours. 

  • Investments in Methane Emissions Reduction
    Methane, the primary component of gas, is responsible for nearly 30% of the impacts of climate change we are experiencing today. The IPCC report emphasizes that swift action to reduce methane emissions is necessary to avoid the worst consequences of a warming planet. A Methane Emissions Reduction Program like the one that was laid out in the Build Back Better Act could raise up to $20 billion that would improve methane monitoring, fund environmental restoration, and help communities reduce the health effects of pollution and increase their climate resilience.

  • Investments in Clean Manufacturing
    Industry accounts for 30% of U.S. climate pollution, and industrial emissions are the only source of climate pollution projected to increase in the coming decades. Beyond greenhouse gasses, many industries generate highly toxic pollution that causes diseases like cancer and respiratory illnesses in communities near the fencelines of industrial plants. Meanwhile, the U.S. has a major shortage of manufacturing facilities to produce the electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels, and other clean energy goods that we need, meaning missed opportunities for workers and supply-chain vulnerabilities that threaten our clean energy transition. We need bold investments to retool our steel and cement factories to be among the cleanest in the world, while creating new high-paying factory jobs to sustainably produce the goods we need for 100% clean energy. Those investments should include funding to slash emissions in the factories that produce steel and cement for infrastructure; grants, loans, and tax credits to jump-start domestic manufacturing of essential clean energy goods; and leveraging government purchases to boost demand for clean manufacturing. 

  • Investments in Public Lands
    Our trees, forests, and public lands are essential for taking on the damaging effects of the climate crisis and for maintaining healthy communities and ecosystems. Urban trees alone currently store an estimated 852 million metric tons of carbon, and scientists say we must protect 30% of all lands and waters by 2030 in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change. That means protecting more lands in the next decade than we did in the previous century. Congress must invest in lands protection, green space preservation, and community tree planting. Tree planting in urban communities decreases the effects of the climate crisis by boosting carbon capture and sequestration and increasing tree canopy cover within these neighborhoods, mitigating the urban heat island effect. We also must invest in the science necessary to protect old and mature trees, which are the largest sources of natural carbon sequestration, and in developing the technology we need to monitor that sequestration. Without significant action by Congress, the harmful effects of climate change, like dirtier air, urban heat islands, and catastrophic flooding, will increasingly devastate vulnerable communities, communities of color, and lower income communities.

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About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit