Clean energy and climate advocates say the huge stimulus bill Congress is negotiating should address not only the economy, but also climate change. But a split over that appears to have contributed to delays in passing the bill.
“Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.
McConnell said Democrats were filibustering the $1 trillion-plus bill hoping to include policies such as extending tax credits for solar and wind energy.
Two trade groups, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), sent a joint letter to members of Congress last week saying that extending the credits “would allow our member companies to hire thousands of additional workers and inject billions in the U.S. economy.”
The share of solar and wind energy in the U.S. had been booming. But now, without help, the SEIA estimates the solar industry could see as much as 50 percent of residential solar jobs lost this year due to the pandemic. AWEA estimates $43 billion dollars of investments and payments, mostly in the rural communities where wind projects usually are built, is at risk.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is harming the wind industry’s ability to build the wind farms envisioned by Congressional legislation and putting at risk 35,000 wind energy jobs,” says Tom Kiernan, Chief Executive Officer of AWEA.
Eight Democratic U.S. senators also called on fellow lawmakers to tie financial help for airlines and cruise lines to new environmental requirements that would reduce their carbon footprints.
McConnell says this is the wrong time to debate policies like these, and the focus should be on addressing the effects of the pandemic. But others argue now is precisely the right time to think about climate change.