Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced that he will use the Defense Production Act to expand production of US solar panels, heat pumps, and other clean energy and heating tools. In announcing the actions, the White House said “With a stronger clean energy arsenal, the United States can be an even stronger partner to our allies, especially in the face of Putin’s war in Ukraine.”
I don’t get to say this enough, so let me say it first and loud: We won, and it is thanks to your signatures, letters and support. Seriously – Right after Russia invaded Ukraine, we joined with Ukrainian and European Union partners to declare that the path to true energy independence was clean energy, not fossil fuels. And a few days later we helped launch a campaign calling on President Biden to use the Defense Production Act to build a clean energy arsenal of freedom. Just last week, we flagged that a slow-moving Commerce department investigation initiated by a single complaint was slowing the entire US solar industry. And we called on Biden to use his executive authority to act fast so the US could grow into an international leader in clean energy.
Tens of thousands of 198 methods supporters signed those petitions and letters – and spoke out in countless other ways as well. Yesterday, we saw clear evidence that President Biden and his administration are listening. Not only did they take the actions we wanted – but they repeated our messages back to us: referring to it as a “clean energy arsenal” in order to “lower energy costs for families, strengthen national security, and achieve lasting American energy independence that reduces demand for fossil fuels.”
Take a moment to celebrate, and thank President Biden for this action – it’s truly a Big. Effing. Deal.
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I made a little video to explain why this is a big deal, and also what I think are some of the upcoming fights – because while this is a big victory and worth celebrating, it’s not the end of our fight. If you’re not video-inclined, here’s the quick version:
- This announcement is a big deal, and sets the stage for the US to more than triple production of solar in the next 2 years, from 7.5 gigawatts to 22.5 gigawatts. So our first job is to watchdog implementation, and make sure that solar power actually gets built, installed, and used to power more than 6 million American households, starting (as the President also promised) with environmental justice communities hit first and worst by climate chaos.
- Second, this executive action is aimed at meeting demand for renewable energy. Next we need President Biden to take action to reduce the supply of fossil fuels – in other words, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and replace that energy with clean sources, like solar. President Biden’s actions this week mean we’ve got a decent chance at scaling up renewable energy production to meet our needs for electricity, heating, and an increasing share of transportation over the next 10 years. Our next big chance comes this summer, when President Biden and his Interior Department finalize a new 5-year plan for whether and how to permit fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters. Stay tuned for more actions on that soon, and don’t forget that we’re still in the middle of a fight to repeal nationwide permits for pipelines and fossil fuels, and to shut down new fossil fuel projects at FERC and other federal regulators.
- And finally, as we’ve noted and explained elsewhere, just taking executive action isn’t enough to achieve President Biden’s promise to cut US emissions of global warming pollution 50% by 2030. And even that promise isn’t enough to live up to the goals of the much-celebrated Paris climate agreement. To get real action at the scale and speed of the climate crisis we need President Biden to declare a climate emergency, and we also need Congress to Act. We’ve been taking action for months to weaken climate-skeptics like Joe Manchin, and there’s news this week that we’re making progress. But Congress has still never passed a single piece of legislation to fight climate change – and we’re a long way from winning that one. If you can, chip in $1.98 or whatever you can afford to keep us fighting.