Council touts jobs, equity benefits in federal climate push
PHILADELPHIA, Pa- Philadelphia City Council is calling on Congress to quickly pass President Biden’s sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act to address the nation’s climate and infrastructure crises, pointing to the local jobs it can create and how the investments can help underserved communities.
In a resolution that passed unanimously today, Councilmembers pointed to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida, which flooded basements, forced residents to flee from their homes and even flooded the Vine Street Expressway, closing it through Center City. Severe weather events like Ida are becoming more and more frequent due to climate change, which is also driving extreme heat that created record temperatures and multiple heat emergencies this summer.
“Philadelphia has been nationally recognized for our work combating climate change, but without significant investment, we will not be able to meet our goals,” said Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large), Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment and Appointee to the U.S. EPA Local Government Advisory Committee. “By passing the Build Back Better Act, Congress will provide cities like Philadelphia the tools and funding we need to make investments in our communities that are long overdue and put people to work in good-paying union jobs. Thank you to our Congressional delegation, Representatives Evans, Boyle, and Scanlon for their support of the Build Back Better plan and ongoing advocacy for our communities.”
Philadelphia has long led the way in the fight to reduce harmful carbon emissions and to strengthen communities against the threat posed by climate change.
Its “Green City Clean Water” plan to reduce stormwater runoff and flooding by investing in green infrastructure is a national model. City officials have also increased municipal procurement of green energy, and City Council has passed energy benchmarking legislation to prompt large commercial buildings to use energy more efficiently. Philadelphia is also home to the largest Solarize program in the nation and the first Solar Career and Technical High School Education program in the country.
However, Philadelphia can’t solve the threat posed by climate change alone. Washington must step up and provide resources to supplement and deepen the city’s own investments.
“We need Congress to act on climate with the urgency this crisis requires and meet the moment we are in,” said Molly Parzen, Interim Executive Director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. A comprehensive, two-track Build Back Better Act means climate funding must be included in the upcoming budget reconciliation process. We must work toward 100% clean energy by 2050, invest at least 40% of the benefits into environmental justice communities who have borne the brunt of climate change, and build an economy based on clean energy jobs, including millions of good paying union jobs. Congress needs to get this job done.”
The proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, which is currently being considered by Congress, would invest billions of dollars to create millions of well-paying union jobs by expanding clean energy, weatherizing homes and businesses and building out an electric vehicle charging infrastructure for municipal fleets, including trash trucks and other city vehicles.
At the same time, the bill would allocate billions of dollars to address the impact of flooding by investing in projects that reduce stormwater runoff.
The Build Back Better Act would invest billions of dollars in addressing other pressing environmental needs, from replacing every last lead water pipe that threatens children’s health, to remediating polluted industrial sites to revitalize blighted neighborhoods, to addressing indoor air quality and the problem of “toxic schools.”
The bill would focus investments on traditionally underserved communities, especially Black and brown families, who have disproportionately borne the brunt of pollution thanks to generations of systemic racism, by focusing investments and creating pipelines to jobs in expanding green industries.
”Fixing our nation’s crumbling and decaying infrastructure is good for everyone,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Chairman of Philadelphia City Council’s Transportation Committee. ” It would be especially good for Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley as a whole.”
“Back in August, I called on the Federal Government to invest $500 million of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to come to the Second Council District specifically to be used for future flood mitigation efforts in the Eastwick neighborhood of Southwest Philadelphia,” Johnson continued. ” Eastwick residents have been impacted by flooding for more than 30 years. They deserve to receive the type of support they need so when these floods happen their lives aren’t turned upside down. Congress needs to approve President Biden’s infrastructure bill right now to improve the lives of all Americans in every state and every city. Be on the right side of history.”
“The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it abundantly clear that climate change is here, it is accelerating, and it will impact our most vulnerable residents the most. We must take bold action to address this crisis, and that’s why we need the Build Back Better Act to invest in clean energy jobs, make schools healthier, and ensure housing is efficient and resilient to a changing climate,” said Christine Knapp, Director, Office of Sustainability.
“In Philadelphia, building an equitable clean energy economy creates family-supporting jobs, drives economic development, reduces poverty and improves public health,” said Emily Schapira, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Energy Authority. “The Build Back Better Act will accelerate our clean energy transition, ensure every neighborhood can benefit, and support vocational training programs like Bright Solar Futures. Congress must act now.”
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