February 04, 2021

Senators Van Hollen, Markey and Rep. Dingell 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

Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) today re-introduced legislation that would create a national climate bank or “Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator,” which would leverage public and private funds to invest in clean energy technologies and infrastructure. This legislation 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. The legislation is also co-sponsored by Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

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 a national climate bank 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 legislation would establish 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 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.” 

“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 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.”

A copy of this legislation can be found HERE.

Specifically, this legislation 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. It would seek investment and procurements in areas such as renewables, storage, transportation, transmission, resiliency, efficiency, reforestation, agriculture, and industrial de-carbonization. It 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.