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Reconciliation Bill Unfairly Targets Communities of Color

As Congress continues to debate the components of a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, the Community Energy Center (CEC) is focused on certain provisions that will inevitably have a negative impact on communities of color. Two such proposed components of the spending bill include levying a methane emissions tax on energy companies and implementing the Clean Energy Standard. While the CEC is in support of a diverse energy sector – including renewable and clean energy – we are not in support of enacting such policies at the expense of minority communities.

A methane emissions fee would result in a reduction of between 111,000 and 155,000 jobs across the American economy. Most of these job losses would come from the service industries and would disproportionately affect low-income earners. This fee will ultimately be passed on to us, the consumers. As our country continues to reel from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, these additional consumer costs are too much for American consumers to bear.

In a letter to Congressional leadership, Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said, “Given the magnitude of the fee, natural gas utilities will likely seek cost recovery from rate regulators which then results in increased costs for consumers at every income level. If passed, these measures will lead to job loss and reduce funding for schools, parks, and other programs directly and indirectly funded by industry royalties and taxes. Most ironically, these proposals would increase global emissions by making us dependent on dirtier foreign sources of energy.”

The adverse effects of the proposed reconciliation package don’t stop there. The Clean Energy Standard would require electric utilities to produce a set amount of emissions-free power, rewarding emission-less sources and penalizing traditional fossil fuels. Instead of having individual state laws regarding this issue, CES would enact one national standard for all. What the CEC hopes the decision makers in Washington, D.C. will understand is that natural gas is one of the cheapest, most effective forms of electric energy that powers 60% of the country. By targeting one industry and discriminating against reliable, affordable energy sources like natural gas, lower income communities will unfairly suffer the harshest consequences of this policy.

Simply put, now is not the time to burden hard working Americans with additional punitive costs. The CEC encourages our elected officials to go back to the drawing board and devise energy policy that is beneficial to ALL Americans.