US lawmakers introduce bill to boost renewable energy production using Defense Production Act to achieve energy independence; NGOs want bill to 'supercharge' climate transition, say fossil fuel industry is exploiting Ukraine war to expand production

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WASHINGTON , April 8, 2022 (press release) –

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) introduced legislation today that would require President Biden to use the Defense Production Act to build a renewable energy industrial base to protect communities and achieve energy independence from fossil fuels.

The bill comes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pressure from the fossil fuel industry to increase extraction and lock in oil and gas production for decades to come.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes crystal clear that true energy security means powering the United States with 100% renewable energy and not an ounce of dangerous fossil fuels,” said Jean Su, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s energy justice program. “Congress should move urgently to pass this bill and supercharge the climate transition. No household should suffer the disconnections and energy price swings that are the hallmarks of fossil-fuel utilities. We urge Biden to expand use of the Defense Production Act to all renewable energy manufacturing and speed an end to the fossil fuel era.”

Last week the Biden administration issued an executive order deploying the Defense Production Act for limited feasibility studies on existing mining for minerals for battery storage and battery component manufacturing.

Under the bill introduced today, the president would be required to use the Defense Production Act to build a renewable energy manufacturing base that can be used by public institutions to help build a federal public power system. The bill also seeks greater investment in the renewable energy supply chain and manufacturing, the generation of well-paying jobs and increased energy efficiency in the form of heat pumps and weatherization. These technologies could be deployed in communities around the United States, as well as in Europe and around the world.

“The fossil fuel industry is attempting to exploit the Ukrainian crisis to expand the production of polluting fossil fuels and increase their own profits under the guise of patriotism,” says Johanna Bozuwa, executive director of the Climate and Community Project. “Congress shouldn’t fall for this ploy, but instead pass this bill to rapidly deploy renewable energy infrastructure to get us off volatile fossil fuels, create good, union jobs and stabilize the climate crisis.”

“This is a crucial moment in the fight against authoritarianism and the struggle for a safe and secure future. True energy security means affordable, reliable and fossil-free energy for all communities, in the United States and around the globe,” said Collin Rees, U.S. program manager at Oil Change International. “Congress should reject Big Oil and Gas’s cynical attempts to profit from human suffering and lock in decades of extraction and pass this bill immediately to accelerate a rapid transition to truly safe and sustainable energy sources.”

In February the Center published a legal report outlining Biden’s sweeping powers to supercharge the renewable energy transition through the Defense Production Act, part of a larger set of emergency authorities that could make bold, lasting climate progress.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Markey, Warren and other progressive senators, along with more than 200 organizations, have called on Biden to use the Act to stop fossil fuel dependence. The Congressional Progressive Caucus also released recommendations for executive action, urging Biden to declare a climate emergency, ban federal fossil fuel leasing and extraction, and build distributed renewable energy systems under the Defense Production Act.

More than 1,100 organizations that make up the Build Back Fossil Free campaign have urged Biden to stop federal approval of new fossil fuel projects, leases and exports, declare a climate emergency and use existing laws like the Defense Production Act to rapidly scale up renewables.

Biden can deploy his executive powers to weaken the geopolitical power of fossil fuels, address the climate emergency and prevent further mass suffering by invoking the Defense Production Act to produce alternatives to fossil fuels, fight climate change, combat Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stranglehold on the world’s energy economy, and support the transition to a renewable and just economy.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Dan Rivard
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