This week, the White House announced that seven federal agencies would adopt clean energy initiatives to further the U.S.’ progress as it looks to achieve net-zero by 2050. The plans build on offshore wind energy projects like the Block Island Wind Farm, the country’s first wind farm, near Rhode Island. Much of the offshore land leases up for grabs are nearby. There will also be a power grid component and a pilot program developed to ensure that rural communities receive training to efficiently deploy clean energy solutions like rooftop solar panels. In a White House fact sheet, the Biden administration notes these initiatives are a helpful way to “deploy clean energy at a record pace,” but that such efforts pale in comparison to the progress that could be achieved were the Build Back Better Act to pass.
It’s not the only key piece of legislation on Biden’s agenda that faces seemingly insurmountable hurdles: On Thursday, the president seemed all but certain that key voting rights bills would not advance to his office because of an unwillingness from two Democratic senators—Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema—to approve of changes to the filibuster. Both Manchin and Sinema have signaled they want to keep the filibuster intact, which is bad news not just for voting rights but the type of climate justice work that is centered within Build Back Better and the White House’s latest push for clean energy.
Speaking with E&E News, environmental justice advocate Dr. Robert Bullard noted there is no environmental justice without voting rights. “We see it as tied together, you know, civil rights and environmental justice,” said Bullard, who is considered the father of environmental justice. “Our environmental justice movement grew out of civil rights, and the fight for equal protection, the fight and the right to vote and not be intimidated, and not to be treated differently in that way.”