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Warren Proposes $1.9T in Investments in Energy Research, American Manufacturing

The senator hopes that Biden could consider the pair of proposals for his infrastructure plan.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to the crowd during the King Day at the Dome rally on January 20, 2020, in Columbia, South Carolina.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-Michigan) introduced two bills on Thursday aimed at investing federal funds in green technology.

The first bill, the Buy Green Act of 2021, would commit $1.5 trillion over the next decade to invest in American clean energy manufacturing. As a press release on the bill explains, the federal government spends $500 billion a year on goods and services — things like “light bulbs and printer cartridges to vehicles and office buildings,” wrote Warren on Twitter.

Warren said the Buy Green Act could help expand the availability of clean energy products, ultimately moving the economy in a greener direction. The bill has been co-sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

The bill “would convert our nation’s biggest spender, the U.S. government, to American-made clean energy products, kick-start demand for American-made renewables across our economy and abroad, and create good American jobs,” said Warren in a statement.

The bill proposes creating a “Clean Energy Fund” at the Department of Energy for “green procurement.” It sets aside funding to electrify the entire federal vehicle fleet, including postal service vehicles.

“With the Buy Green Act, we have the opportunity to combat wealth inequality, address environmental racism and revitalize industrial Midwestern communities that have been left behind by trade policy that put profits before people,” said Levin in a statement.

The bill includes provisions to ensure good labor conditions, such as “strong” wages and benefits, and invests 40 percent of its grant funding to frontline, underserved and neglected communities. “This legislation is the bold response we need to jumpstart production of sustainable goods made right here in America by union workers,” Levin said.

The second bill is called the National Institutes of Clean Energy Act of 2021 and would invest $400 billion over 10 years into research and development of clean energy with an emphasis on cleaning up industries that are difficult to decarbonize, like aviation.

The bill could help the U.S. catch up to its peers on investments in research, according to the bill’s press release. “The United States has the highest GDP in the world, yet it ranks 10th in the world for how much of that capital gets invested in [research and development].”

The bill would also invest in projects focusing on mitigating the impacts of energy production on frontline communities, which have long suffered from air and land pollution from oil refineries and other such plants.

“It’s time for Congress to make smart investments in developing new technologies that will mitigate climate change’s threat to our nation’s health, economy, and security,” said Warren in a statement. “Our bill invests in our future by building back our economy and tackling the climate crisis.”

Senator Warren hopes that President Joe Biden will incorporate both bills into his infrastructure proposal. According to Warren’s office, polls have found both bills to be popular among the public, with 59 percent support for the Buy Green Act and 60 percent support for the National Institutes of Clean Energy Act.

Democrats and progressives have introduced a number of bills for President Biden’s consideration for his infrastructure plan. But Biden frustrated many lawmakers and advocates recently by cutting his infrastructure plan by roughly $600 billion. Progressives and Democrats contend that it’s not Republicans that the president should be negotiating with on infrastructure, but his own party.

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