TO: Interested Parties

FROM: John Podesta

RE: Now is The Time to Go Big on Clean Energy & Infrastructure

DATE: March 28, 2021

With the historic passage of the American Rescue Plan, we now have the resources we need to end the pandemic and for people, schools, and businesses to get the immediate relief they need to get by. But we need to do more than get by. We need to get back to work and back to building big things in America. 

We have a huge opportunity in front of us to recover from COVID and build back better. We can put people back to work in new good-paying clean energy jobs AND tackle climate change at the same time. Big, bold investments in clean energy, infrastructure, the care economy, and restoring our lands would create more than 15 million new jobs. To meet the scale of the crises facing our country — the economic fallout from the pandemic, racial injustice and the climate crisis — we’ll need big investments, quickly, if we are truly going to build back better. 

Congressional Republicans want to pump the brakes on our economy. They’re wrong.  Now is the time to accelerate our investments in clean energy and infrastructure to address climate change and create good-paying union jobs. As President Biden and Treasury Secretary Yellen have stressed, the risk of doing too little is far greater than the risk of doing too much. America can’t wait any longer for a game-changing plan that puts people back to work today building the economy and infrastructure we need now that’s built to last for tomorrow, a Great American Build. 

Despite the Trump Administration’s actions to worsen the climate crisis, commitments by the private sector, decisions by state and local governments, citizen action, and simple economics continued to push us toward a clean energy economy. Now is the time to supercharge this transformation with an historic investment in America that will create American jobs. 

President Biden understands the need to go big, go bold, and to go right now. His plan to build back better with a reported $3 trillion in investments in human and physical infrastructure, including our country’s largest-ever investment in combating climate change is just what the economy – and the climate – needs. The investment in clean energy jobs and climate change alone could reportedly top $2 trillion. The scale and scope of these investments is what voters want and what our economy and our climate demand. Congress must now act without delay and invest in jobs, clean energy – and the American people. 

Why Go Big? Why Now?

Since the pandemic started, there are 10 million fewer jobs and 3 million women and 2.5 million men have left the workforce entirely. The retreat of women, especially women of color, from the workforce, in particular, is at a crisis level. We are one year into the pandemic and the impact of long-term unemployment on millions of families and their communities has already been devastating. There is simply no reason – economic, political, or Senate procedural – to let this jobs’ crisis continue.

Investing in clean energy and infrastructure is the best, fastest, and most effective way to put people to work and address the climate crisis. Clean energy is the fastest growing industry in America and, with the right policies, provides a huge opportunity to build back better with high-quality, union jobs that help rebuild the middle class. Before the pandemic hit, clean energy jobs employed nearly 3.4 million workers in the U.S., three times as many workers as employed by the fossil fuel industry. 

We also have no time to waste when it comes to the climate crisis. This is our climate moment. The science is unforgiving and the window to act is narrowing. If we don’t immediately take advantage of the political and economic opportunities before us, we may never have another chance. 

Jobs for Today and Tomorrow in Every Community in America

Clean energy jobs are not just for the people installing solar panels and manufacturing wind turbines. Investing in clean energy means all kinds of new jobs for all kinds of people, regardless of background. Building back better will create new good-paying jobs for builders, roofers, pipefitters, engineers, electricians, programmers, machinists, accountants and teachers all across America.

Clean energy jobs aren’t dependent on where you live. New opportunities are everywhere. These won’t be red state jobs or blue state jobs. They will be American jobs in big cities, small towns, and the rural communities in between. An ambitious plan to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations along existing or new highways, weatherize two million homes, upgrade four million buildings, and manufacture 40-50 million electric vehicles in the U.S. over the next decade by definition means undertaking a national mobilization that will employ people in every state and region in the country.

President Biden is also committed to making sure no communities are left behind. That means there needs to be targeted investments in communities that have borne the brunt of environmental injustice and racism for decades. President Biden’s Justice40 initiative will direct 40% of the historic climate investment to communities of color, low income communities and disadvantaged communities across the country. Leaving no community behind also means that President Biden must build a just transition for communities that have historically been dependent on fossil fuels and invest in revitalizing these communities across the country. 

Pittsburgh is the perfect example of the power of investments in clean energy and infrastructure enabling even the most fossil fuel-dependent communities to transition to a new era of jobs and prosperity. In fact, Pittsburgh’s economic revitalization has been called a “model for clean energy innovation.” At the end of 2019, Pittsburgh was home to 18,116 clean energy jobs, 2,051 renewable energy generation jobs, and 13,552 energy efficiency jobs.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a clean energy champion, announced in 2019 that the city would be transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2035, marking the first post-industrial American city to make such a commitment. Mayor Peduto laid out a “Marshall Plan for Middle America” to build a strong middle class by catalyzing economic recovery through infrastructure and clean energy and ensure a just transition for fossil fuel dependent communities. 

The city’s airport will be the first major U.S. airport powered by a microgrid, with energy sourced from nearly 7,800 solar panels. Pittsburgh is home to the nation’s largest sloped roof solar project. Installed by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 441, Pittsburgh Mill 19 solar project sits along the Monongahela River on the Hazelwood Green former steelworks site.

The Time is Now

Like the American Rescue Plan, the transformational investments in clean energy and infrastructure that President Biden ran on, won on, and will soon propose are overwhelmingly popular. Nearly 7-in-10 voters across the country and in key states want Congress to pass a major recovery package with trillions of dollars in investments in clean energy and infrastructure. 

New polling out today from Data for Progress and Climate Power affirms strong public demand for building back better with big, bold, and equitable investments:

As President Biden said, “this country can do anything — hard things, big things, important things.” Now is the time to go big, go bold, and to go quickly. Our economy, our planet and future generations depend on it.