Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act

September 24, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which makes long-overdue reforms to U.S. energy policy and authorizes major investments in the transition to a low-carbon future.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for his leadership on this important issue that he has brought his experience in the private sector and the non-profit sector to the Congress to effectively address the climate crisis that we are facing.  

I join the distinguished Ranking Member of the Committee in supporting this en bloc and remind him that in 2018 we did have the Fire Budget Act that readjusted and enabled us to spend money for fire prevention and that was bipartisan.  I welcome your support for these – the en blocs and the work to address this. 

The description that you make of the fire impact on the communities is a very, very serious one and we see it in California, but we’ve seen it a few years ago and before.  And unless you have seen it, you cannot really realize how destructive it is.  It just obliterates the area.  And then the smoke from those fires, as we say, the smoke from the fires is not stronger than the love that we have for each other to come back from all of this.  But this legislation and these amendments would be helpful.  And I thank the gentleman for his strong leadership on this.  Because the threat of wildfires in our communities and the ability to create clean energy economy jobs and innovation is very – is an opportunity that we have here today.  

Across the county, extreme weather and climate events are being unleashed on our communities leaving tragedy and devastation in their wake.  From wildfires in the west, which the distinguished Ranking Member referenced and that we have experienced, described as apocalyptic, apocalyptic, which have killed at least 35 people, blanketed the entire country in haze and burned a historic 3.7 million acres, more than 20 times the amount last year.  

Horrific hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, some of the most severe to ever hit the southern states.  I spoke to the Governor of Louisiana, he told me the hurricane that hit Louisiana was the most severe in the history of Louisiana.  I said, ‘Even more so than Katrina?’  He said, ‘Yes.’  The Katrina damage sprang from the hurricane but also the levees collapsing.  This is about the severity of the hurricane.  And frequency, then they’ve had more hurricanes even since then.  They’re running out of names to label them.  They said they might have to go to the Greek alphabet.

Heatwaves across America with this summer being the hottest ever summer recorded in the northern hemisphere and the second hottest summer around the planet.  Scientists tell us that 2020, a year filled with climate disasters will be among the two hottest years ever recorded.  Madam Speaker, Mother Nature is sending us a message as a clear sign that the climate crisis is real, it is deadly and it is accelerating.  

The American people elected a Democratic House Majority that would honor the science and honor our obligation to be a more resilient, green and sustainable economy.  Not only for future generations tomorrow but for our children today.  I’m proud of the work that Democrats have taken since Day One to combat the climate crisis in a way that creates jobs and advances environmental justice.  This has been an all-Caucus effort, reflecting the energy of our Freshmen, the expertise of our chairs and the will of the American people, including the Climate Action Now Act, keeping us in the Paris Accords; the Moving Forward Act, making a strong down payment in a clean energy future; the Great American Outdoors Act, the most significant conservation bill in a generation, strongly bipartisan; Solving the Climate Crisis, our Congressional action plan led by our chair, Chairwoman Kathy Castor, the most detailed, sweeping climate plan in American history, which endorses a national goal of net zero pollution as soon as possible, 2050 at the latest.  This plan protects American workers, safeguards vulnerable communities and grows the economy and advances our preeminence in green technologies. 

Now, today, we are taking the next step with the Clean Energy Jobs and Innovation Act.  And, Madam Speaker, I say, the next step.  This is not exhaustive of our solutions and we have a lot of ideas in our Caucus to debate and to prioritize, but this is an important next step. 

I salute all the committees of jurisdiction and chairs for their strategic, science-based leadership on the bill in this package.  Energy and Commerce Committee Chair, of course, Frank Pallone; [Science, Space] and Technology Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson, Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva along with Congressmen McEachin and Ruiz – Ruiz for their collaborative efforts to include a transformative environmental justice title.  Select Committee, again, on Climate Crisis, Kathy Castor, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Health on Energy and Commerce leading on legislation to study the direct connection of wildfire smoke on public health, as you suggested.  And also Members from the west offer amendments, including the ones under consideration now to improve wildfire research, resilience and protect homes, communities and public health.  Again, I salute Mike Levin for his leadership on this very important area.  His election to Congress took us way down the path in this fight to preserve the planet.  Thank you, Mr. Levin. 

The legislation advances public health, financial and national security and environmental justice.  It takes actions that scientists, researchers and experts tell us is needed, by launching the research and development needed to unleash a clean energy revolution and reduce pollution in our communities, making a bold down payment for future climate action by modernizing America's energy innovation infrastructure, phasing down dangerous HFCs known as super-pollutants, which many experts believe is the single biggest action that the world can take to reduce global warming, putting our country on a path to net zero pollution no later than 2050 and critically protecting local communities by requiring federal agencies to better understand the impact of new projects on public health and the environment and to provide meaningful participation for indigenous and environmental communities.  This is so absolutely important to have our Indian country involved in these decisions. 

As the League of Conservation Voters wrote today, ‘This bill includes many great provisions to develop and deploy renewable and distributed energy resources; improve the efficiency of our homes, schools and businesses; electrify our transportation sector; modernize our grid and enhance its resilience; prioritize the need of environmental justice in communities; reduce climate pollution from industrial and traditional sources and from ambient air.’

They go on to say, ‘Though we do not support increased funding for projects that could extend the life of fossil fuel burning power plants or aging nuclear power infrastructure or prop up undemonstrated new nuclear projects, many of the amendments would improve those areas and build upon the significant positive aspects of the bill.’  This is very important, ‘Build upon the significant positive environmental aspects of the bill.’  ‘We urge support for the amendments that will make the bill even stronger by protecting our communities and environment while investing in clean energy research and development deployment.’ 

This important legislation is an important step, I keep saying, it's not everything.  It is a step to advance climate action, but much more is needed. 

Unfortunately, many of our government continue to deny the science and refuse to act.  As seen earlier this month when I hosted the G7 Speakers Meeting on Addressing the Climate Crisis with Economic and Environmental Justice for All, no other country in that mix of the G7 and the President of the European Union, who was also participating, no other country is in denial about the climate crisis and the impact that human activity has on it. 

Sadly, only in America is there contempt for science, public health and the role of government.  Madam Speaker, when I first became Speaker in 2007, when the first bill we put on the Floor was a bill to establish a Select Committee on Climate and Energy.  We passed, working with President Bush, the biggest energy bill in the history of our country, the equivalent of taking millions of cars off the road.  We came to terms in an agreement and had – he was delighted to have a signing ceremony for this. 

Since then, there has been denial about the climate crisis, and again becoming Speaker again in this Congress, establish again a Climate Select Committee, Kathy Castor chairs it.  And so, this has been a very high priority. 

It's a high priority for public health, clean air, clean water, ending the pollutants –  diminishing the pollutants. 

Secondly, it's a jobs issue, jobs, jobs, jobs, clean energy jobs, making us pre-eminent in the world. 

It is a national security issue.  Our security experts tell us that drought and famine and so much that is caused by the climate crisis increase competition for habitat, for resources and the rest, cause mass migrations.  It's a national security issue. 

And it is a moral issue if you believe, as I do, that this planet is God's creation.  We have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of it.  That view is shared by many in the Evangelical community. 

But even if you don't share it from a religious standpoint, from a moral standpoint we have a responsibility to pass the planet on to future generations as best we can. 

The American people, including young people, scientists, faith leaders, grassroots environmental justice advocates are demanding climate action now to promote – to protect their lives and their livelihoods. 

I urge Members, including the Republicans whose bills are included in this package, to listen to the public, pass this commonsense and science-based legislation, redouble our efforts to combat the climate crisis, heed the message that Mother Earth is sending us. 

Lives are at stake.  We have no time to waste.  I urge an aye vote on these en bloc and on final passage of the legislation.  And yield back the balance of my time.