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We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

On Its Own, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Fails On Climate

Congress must act quickly to pass the Build Back Better Act.

President Joe Biden meets virtually with governors, mayors, county officials and tribal leaders to discuss infrastructure in August.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, was passed by the House of Representatives late last week. While the bill does make progress on a handful of sustainable infrastructure priorities, it fails to achieve anywhere close to the pollution reductions necessary to meet President Biden’s climate commitment. Last week, at the COP26 UN climate conference in Scotland, President Biden reiterated his pledge for the U.S. to reduce domestic greenhouse gas pollution by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.

That’s why it’s imperative that Congress act quickly to pass the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which makes transformative investments in climate action and environmental justice. The BBBA will create millions of new good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy and get America on track to achieve our pollution reduction goals and prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

The BBBA delivers 14 times the greenhouse gas pollution reductions achieved by the bipartisan infrastructure bill. On top of that, the BBBA’s complementary investments are important to fully realize the benefits of the infrastructure bill’s clean energy spending. As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) put it earlier this week, the two bills are like a lock and key: the climate benefits of many of the investments in the bipartisan infrastructure bill can be unlocked only by key spending in BBBA. The bipartisan bill’s investments in electric vehicles, for example, can best cut climate pollution if those cars run on the clean electricity supported by BBBA dollars.

On its own, the bipartisan infrastructure bill fails to meet the moment on climate. But with quick action from Congress to pass the BBBA, the two bills can work together to fulfill President Biden’s vision for a clean energy economic recovery. Democratic holdouts in the House of Representatives have already committed to vote to pass the BBBA no later than next week, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear her plans to bring the bill to the floor when the House returns to session. Now, it's up to the House Democratic Caucus to follow through and prove that Democrats can deliver on the ambitious climate agenda that the American people elected them to fulfill. After the House passes the bill, the Senate Democratic Caucus must quickly follow in passing the bill in the upper chamber.

Why the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill on Its Own Fails on Climate

 The bipartisan infrastructure bill alone has a negligible impact on U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. An analysis from the REPEAT Project found that the bill, on its own, achieves only 58 million metric tons (MMT) of pollution reductions in 2030. The BBBA, by comparison, achieves over 800 MMT of pollution cuts in that year—again, 14 times more impactful, and critical to meeting the pollution reduction goals demanded by science.

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Source: The REPEAT Project

An analysis from the Center for American Progress based on pollution reduction projections from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office found that the bipartisan infrastructure bill delivers only 6% of the greenhouse gas pollution cuts in the president’s legislative agenda—the other 94% come from the BBBA.

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Source: Center for American Progress

That stark contrast reflects a fundamental difference in the scope of the two policy packages. While the BBBA dedicates hundreds of billions of dollars to economy-wide decarbonization initiatives, the infrastructure bill takes a far more limited approach that focuses on resilience over mitigation—meaning its largest climate-related investments go to projects like grid hardening, disaster preparedness, and water infrastructure resilience. While important, those investments in climate resilience will do nothing to avoid the accelerating climate damages which, left unchecked, will overwhelm America’s infrastructure, economy, and public health.

The bill’s investments in directly cutting climate-warming pollution, such as funding for EV charging infrastructure projects and energy efficiency programs, are far more modest. And the REPEAT Project further shows that, while the bill does lead to some modest net emissions reductions, some of its investments—like grants for natural gas fueling stations—actually increase carbon pollution. Those countervailing initiatives weaken the bill’s emissions reductions impacts. 

Why We Need BBBA

The BBBA would constitute the United States’ largest-ever investment to defeat the climate crisis and protect a liveable future for all Americans. The BBBA includes more than $550 billion in climate investments, including clean energy tax credits promoting cheaper, cleaner energy, investments in American manufacturing and supply chains, a new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (a Green Bank) that will provide vital low-cost financing for clean infrastructure projects, a Civilian Climate Corps that will put hundreds of thousands of people to work tackling the climate crisis in their own communities, and much more. 

The BBBA will make a vital contribution towards achieving America’s climate goals, and its climate investments will have far-reaching benefits beyond greenhouse gas pollution reduction. It will begin to address the harms inflicted by decades of systemic environmental racism, create millions of new good-paying union jobs, and help ensure that American industry remains competitive in the clean energy economy of the future. The choice is clear: we need the BBBA to make meaningful progress on climate.

Time to Deliver

In 2020, voters elected Democrats to enact a bold agenda for climate action, and the Build Back Better Act is their chance to prove they can deliver. President Biden has made a historic commitment to cut climate pollution by 50-52% by 2030, but the bipartisan infrastructure bill alone will not get us there. We need the BBBA to meet our climate goals, supercharge our clean energy economy, and give young Americans and future generations their best shot at a liveable future.

Next week, House Democrats will face a critical test of their ability to lead. To show the American people that they can keep their word and deliver the popular agenda that they ran and won on, there’s only one option. It’s time to pass the Build Back Better Act.

Call your representatives and let them know you're counting on their support for the Build Back Better Act. We've written a script for you and grabbed your representatives' numbers, so it couldn't be quicker, easier, or more meaningful. Thanks for taking action today.