Imagine for a second: It’s July 2021, and the U.S. has experienced a Green Recovery brought about with support from people of faith across the country. What do our communities look like? What has changed for our most vulnerable neighbors?
In the next weeks, the Senate must pass legislation to meet the basic needs of those most affected by COVID-19 and job loss, people who are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Beyond those basic needs, this moment is also an opportunity for senators to bring a sustainable vision to long-term recovery.
Before the crisis, clean energy was a big economic bright spot. But since March, we’ve lost over half a million clean energy jobs. We can reverse those losses and create jobs right now by investing in clean energy tax credits.
We also need to do more to protect the health of our communities, especially our most vulnerable. One way we can do that is by stopping utility shut-offs nationwide. All our neighbors deserve access to clean water and electricity. Especially during a public health emergency, we must make sure that everyone has what they need to stay safe and healthy at home. And in the longer term, we can lower utility bills, create jobs, and better care for Creation by investing in programs that improve energy efficiency in low-income households.
Keeping our communities healthy also means addressing decades of environmental injustice. As we fight a virus that attacks our lungs, we know that too many neighbors—especially in communities of color—have been forced to breathe more than their fair share of pollution. We can work towards restoring the divine gift of clean air for all by investing in the EPA’s Environmental Justice grants, funds that cut pollution and create jobs through local community projects.
Finally, we can create jobs by investing in the necessary transition away from the fossil fuels that make our communities sicker. Let’s start that process with the RECLAIM Act, a bipartisan bill to provide funding for clean up and economic development in communities with abandoned coal mines. By including that funding in the next recovery package, we could both protect people’s health and provide immediate employment for hard-hit communities.
Please take a moment today to urge your senators to support a recovery that cares for Creation and our most vulnerable neighbors. Below is a sample message you can use to send a letter, email, or make a phone call:
As a person of faith and conscience, I understand that the health of my neighbors is tied to the health of Creation—we can’t have safe, clean, healthy communities without safe, clean, healthy air and water. In the next Covid relief bill, let’s put people back to work on projects that achieve just that.
I ask that you:
– Invest in good paying clean energy jobs, through initiatives like renewable energy tax credits. Clean energy can put people to work while also making our communities healthier and more resilient.
– Freeze utility shut offs nationwide. During this public health emergency, we must make sure that everyone has the resources to stay safe and healthy while at home. And we should invest now in LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program to create jobs and lower utility bills.
– Invest in stopping air pollution, especially in communities of color that have borne an unfair share of our dirty air. Research has shown this unfair burden of pollution is one reason communities of color have been hit harder by the virus. We can start to change this by investing in programs like the EPA’s Environmental Justice Grants.
– Promote health and jobs in former coal communities by including the RECLAIM Act. This bipartisan bill offers the opportunity to both protect public health and provide immediate employment for hard-hit communities by funding clean up and economic development in communities with abandoned coal mines.
I urge you to invest in measures that meet the needs of the most vulnerable and those most affected by this crisis. Together, we can create a recovery that is both green and just, and cares for all of our neighbors.