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Dingell, Markey, Van Hollen Re-Introduce Legislation to Create a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator

Will leverage $100 billion in public funds to create as much as $884 billion in total investment over ten years into projects that support clean energy, reduce emissions

Washington (February 3, 2021) – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) today re-introduced legislation that would create the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator, which would leverage public and private funds to invest in clean energy technologies and infrastructure. The accelerator would provide financing to eligible regional, state and local green banks, make investments directly into projects that reduce carbon emissions, support workers and communities negatively impacted by the climate transition, and provide technical assistance for the start up of new green banks around the United States. It also would require that 40 percent of all investments be directed into disadvantaged communities facing climate impacts.

Across the nation – in Connecticut, New York, and Michigan -- public money has been used to leverage six to twenty times more dollars in private investment. On a national scale, investing $100 billion of public funds into the accelerator could generate between $884 billion in total investment into clean energy related projects over just ten years. An investment of that size is projected to create four million jobs in four years, two-thirds of which can be filled right away by Americans with many skill sets, even during the pandemic. By 2030, the Accelerator could deliver one-fifth of all emissions reduction needed to reach a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

The Accelerator will be structured as an independent non-profit capitalized with $50 billion initially, and then with an additional $10 billion every year for five years. 

State-level green banks have already used this model to lower the cost of solar installations for homeowners, provide lending for sustainable home renovations and retrofits, and underwrite clean energy upgrades and fuel conversions—bringing safer, cheaper, and healthier energy to all types of commercial and residential properties.

“Investing in clean energy and the survival of our environment isn’t just a moral obligation, it is an economic opportunity,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “By building on the proven success of state-level green banks, the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator will transform our fight against climate change and intentionally incentivize investments in environmental justice communities. This accelerator can bridge partisan divides and unite the public and private sector around our shared goal of decarbonizing our country, creating jobs, and leaving this world better than we found it.”

“When we invest in clean energy projects at home, we can export American technology and expertise overseas instead of importing foreign oil,” said Senator Markey. “A clean energy and sustainability accelerator is a model for how the financial, government, and private sectors can work together to leverage investment in climate action, reduce emissions, and support environmental justice communities. We must continue to find innovative ways to capture and accelerate the momentum of the green economy, and the accelerator will help invest in projects that are looking to decrease energy use, decrease carbon emissions, and eliminate the injustices associated with the climate crisis.”

“Investing in clean energy will not only help us tackle the climate crisis, but is also key to generating millions of new, home-grown, American jobs,” said Senator Van Hollen. “Our legislation creates an engine to build a green economy free of more costly carbon pollution while putting more green into the wallets of American workers. As we work with the Biden Administration to meaningfully address climate change and secure environmental justice, this effort to spur green innovation must be a top priority. We’ll be pushing to get it done.”  

A copy of this legislation can be found HERE.

Specifically, the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator would make the United States a world leader in combating the climate crisis by catalyzing and mobilizing private capital, increasing clean energy accessibility and environmental justice, supporting the creation of new green banks, and exploring ways to support the retirement of emissions-intensive generation. The Accelerator will seek investment and procurements in areas such as renewables, storage, transportation, transmission, resiliency, efficiency, reforestation, agriculture, and industrial de-carbonization. The Accelerator would explore new and innovative investment approaches to reduce emissions, including a program designed to speed emissions reductions and clean energy transitions in the utility sector, where three-quarters of all US coal plants cost more to operate than it would cost to build a comparable amount of new renewable generation.

“During the last decade, the green bank model has proven to have an outsized impact in states, creating good-paying jobs and decarbonizing the economy. Now we need to replicate this model at the federal level to meet the urgent economic and climate challenges before our country,” said Coalition for Green Capital CEO Reed Hundt. “With continued support from Sen. Van Hollen and Sen. Markey in the Senate and leadership from Rep. Dingell in the House, the bill passed the House twice last year. We are confident with their continued leadership we will get it passed by both chambers and signed by the president in 2021.”

“The Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator will be a critical catalyst for creating good jobs and increasing our health, wealth, safety and competitiveness. With a mandate to focus on underserved communities of color and the just transition for fossil fuel communities and workers, it’s a tool for moving small towns, suburbs and cities forward together,” said Doug Sims, Director of NRDC’s Green Finance Center.

"Clean energy is our future and I'm proud to see continued leadership from Michigan's Rep. Dingell to make it a priority," said Mary Templeton, president and CEO of Michigan Saves, the nation's first nonprofit green bank. "Our organization works hard to make sure everyone—no exceptions— has access to the benefits of energy efficient improvements so I'm very pleased to see considerable focus on underserved communities facing climate impacts."

“Reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 will call for a historic deployment of public and private finance for urgent, bold, and ambitious climate action,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at Third Way. “The Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator Act of 2021 answers that call and is a major step in the right direction to provide low-cost capital and catalyze private investment for clean energy technology and infrastructure. We also commend the requirement to target 40% of its investment in climate-impacted communities.  It makes more sense than ever to invest heavily in clean energy to create quality jobs, increase American competitiveness, and support those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

“In 2020, the United States suffered 22 billion-dollar disasters shattering previous records. It’s time for practical climate change solutions, including smart financing through public-private partnerships, which are integral to getting low-carbon, climate resilient infrastructure projects off the ground. This bill replicates numerous, highly successful state green bank programs and will help ramp up renewable energy use, increase energy efficiency, and improve energy grid infrastructure and transmission. In addition to creating badly needed, high-paying jobs, this bill also prioritizes assistance for underserved communities of color and aids communities and workers affected by coal and power plant closures during this ongoing transition to clean energy. We urge Congress to prioritize the passage of this legislation. Such policies will go a long way toward reducing heat-trapping emissions and increasing climate resilience,” said the Union of Concerned Scientists.


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