By U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tina Smith and U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Paul Tonko,
Reprinted with permission from The Hill
One year ago, the four of us came together and founded the first-ever Electrification Caucus with members from across the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Together, we have worked to advance policies in Congress to accelerate widespread electrification, which will cut costs for Americans, improve public health, create jobs, and tackle the climate crisis. Our Caucus has grown to more than 50 members of Congress who are working to put the “electrify everything” formula into action by passing laws to build a clean, efficient, and electric future.
Electric technologies—including electric vehicles, energy efficient home appliances like heat pumps for home heating and cooling, and induction stovetops—have already leapfrogged their fossil fuel-powered alternatives in terms of safety, efficiency, and performance. The rapid improvements to these technologies make electrification one of our surest strategies to help families and businesses substantially lower their monthly energy bills.
Using cleanly generated electricity to power our transportation and household needs, is essential to eliminating the carbon pollution that is driving global warming. Additionally, electrifying our lives and our economy will also create good-paying manufacturing and installation jobs in local communities everywhere and improve the air we breathe in our homes and workplaces.
The health benefits from cleaner outdoor and indoor air will also be substantial. The American Lung Association has found transitioning to zero-emission transportation and cleaner electricity will prevent nearly 3 million asthma attacks and more than 110,000 premature deaths each year. Replacing our gas stoves and furnaces will also eliminate a major source of indoor air pollution, including volatile organic compounds and carcinogens like benzene. It can also reduce risks and hazards from gas leaks, which can cause dangerous house fires and explosions.
Over the last year, Electrification Caucus members helped secure major victories for energy efficiency and electrification. In the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021, we invested $7.5 billion towards constructing a convenient, reliable, and affordable electric vehicle charging network across the entire nation. In the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate bill that President Biden signed into law in August 2022, we passed historic new investments and tax credits for clean electrification of homes, buildings, transportation, and industry.
That includes $4.5 billion for point-of-sale rebates to help for families who purchase and install individual electric household appliances like heat pumps and induction stoves, and another $4.5 billion for whole-house energy efficiency retrofits. There are also billions of dollars in new and expanded tax credits that will help Americans install clean energy and efficiency upgrades in their homes and purchase both new and used electric vehicles.
We also passed major incentives to supercharge our domestic manufacturing base for clean and electric technologies—from heat pumps and wind turbines to batteries, solar components, and electric vehicles. And we made new federal investments to help heavy industries, agricultural producers, small business owners, affordable housing agencies, Tribal governments, and disadvantaged communities electrify their operations and build new electrification projects.
The federal government has both the resources and the responsibility to set a leading example in the transition toward clean and electric technologies. That’s why we delivered $250 million in the Inflation Reduction Act to upgrade federal buildings to high-performance green buildings that will meet our climate goals and provide a return to taxpayers. We also provided $3 billion to help the U.S. Postal Service convert its delivery vehicle fleet into electric vehicles and cut airborne pollution in every community.
We are also proud to have a strong partner in the White House to implement all these new investments. This year, the Biden administration included efficient electrification in existing programs like the Weatherization Assistance Program to help lower energy costs for American families, rolled out $1 billion in grants to electrify school buses and clean up the air our kids breathe, and is already working with states and Tribes to start build out on our nationwide EV charging network. President Biden also hosted the first-ever White House Electrification Summit.
Over this past year, Congress passed the most significant climate policies in history. The Electrification Caucus is proud to lead the charge on actions that will spur the widespread deployment of highly efficient, fully electric, and pollution-free technologies. We have an optimistic and attainable vision to help Americans live prosperous and healthy lives, now and in the future.
Martin Heinrich, Tina Smith, Paul Tonko and Kathy Castor are founders and co-chairs of the Electrification Caucus.
This article was reprinted with permission from The Hill: It has been an electrifying year: Advancing policies in Congress to accelerate electrification