Americans say they are really, really upset about higher gas prices, despite the fact the prices have come down consistently since the peak in the summer ($1.20) and are just about 30c higher per gallon, and that the price rise is largely due to Putin’s genocidal invasion of Ukraine, and but that inflation will affect how they vote. But what is also clear is that American-based oil companies have basically indulged in price-gouging, war-profiteering – as evidenced by record profits during the third quarter. We’re talking Exxon’s highest quarterly profits in its 152-year history. The oil companies have pocketed $100 billion in just 200 days, two and three times the quarterly profit of a year ago, setting historic records. Think about that.
“Their profits are a windfall of war,” President Biden declared, “the windfall from the brutal conflict that’s ravaging Ukraine and hurting tens of millions of people around the globe. You know, at a time of war, any company receiving historic windfall profits like this has a responsibility to act beyond their narrow self-interest of its executives and shareholders…if they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions. ..It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities to this country, and give the American people a break and still do very well.”
And here’s my question: the oil companies are using billions of that profit to buy back their stock, rather than reinvest or do something productive with all that cash. Why don’t they instead be the ones developing, installing and owning clean, renewable energy technologies – be part of the solution to carbon-emissions-caused global warming and climate change, rather than the cause. They could be developing battery-storage technologies, EV charging infrastructure, cheaper and better solar panels and wind turbines. Instead, they spend their untold billions to lobby lawmakers to challenge climate action and propagandize climate change denial.
Here’s another issue: they are deliberately keeping gas prices high because they know it may hurt Democrats’ control of Congress, and stop, even reverse Biden’s progress on climate action and a transition to clean, renewable energy.
Here are the facts, provided by the White House, and President Biden’s remarks – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Oil companies are posting record profits. Over the last two quarters alone, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and TotalEnergy earned over $100 billion in profits. That is more than they earned all of last year, and more thantwo-and-a-half times what they earned in the same quarters of 2021.
Oil companies are overcharging American families at the pump.Today, profit margins at five of the largest oil companies are higher than their pre-pandemic levels.Refining margins per gallon of gasoline are about 50 cents over historical levels – nearly double what is typical. Diesel profit margins are even larger at about $1.90 above historical levels – more than six times what is typical.
Oil companies are padding shareholder pockets rather than increasing production. ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and TotalEnergy are spending more money buying back their own shares than investing in raising their productive capacity. Over the last six months, these companies reported spending over $50 billion to buy back their own shares and pay out dividends. That’s about the same amount that these companies returned to shareholders all of last year. In Q2 and Q3 of 2022, the ratio of capital expenditures to earnings of the six large oil companies was only 35%, compared to over 130% during the same quarters from 2017 to 2019 pre-pandemic.
President Biden remarked on the record oil profits on October 31. Here’s a transcript:
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in March set gas prices soaring literally around the world — not just here, but around the world.
And because of the action we’ve taken since then, gas prices have actually come down — going into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — here at home, in America. They’re down more than $1.20 since their peak this summer. And they’ve been falling for the best of — best part of the last three weeks.
In June, the average price — not the most common price, but the average price — nationwide was — was over $5 a gallon. Today, the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.76. That’s adding up to real savings for American families — the difference between those prices. And this difference makes a difference.
In a difficult time, Americans across the country have stepped up to do the right thing. But not everyone has stepped up. The oil industry has not met its commitment to invest in America and support the American people.
One by one, major oil companies have reported record profits, not just a fair return for hard work. Every company is entitled to that: a fair return for the work they do or innovation they generate. But I mean profits so high it’s hard to believe.
Now, the second quarter of the profits were really high. But the third quarter — last week, Shell announced that it made $9.5 billion in profits for the third quarter — $9.5 billion. That’s almost twice as much as it made in the third quarter of last year. I think that’s something. You think that’s incredible? I thought, “My — that’s as good as — as high as it’s going to get.”
Then along came Exxon. Exxon’s profits for the third quarter were at $18.7 billion. One quarter: $18.7 billion — nearly triple what Exxon made last year and the most in its 152-year history. It’s never made that much profit.
In the last six months, six of the largest oil companies have made more than $100 billion — $100 billion. And we had a little discussion about this, the three of us and others. One hundred billion in profits in two — less than 200 days…
Here’s why it matters: If these companies were making average profits they’ve been making by refining oil over the last 20 years instead of the outrageous profits they’re making today and if they passed the rest on to the consumers, the price of gas would come down around an additional 50 cents.
If they’re investing their profits at historic rates in their U.S. operations, then America would be producing more oil today and prices would be down even further. But rather than increasing their investments in America or giving American consumers a break, their excess profits are going back to their shareholders and to buying back their stock, so the executive pay is going to skyrocket.
Give me a break. Enough is enough. Look, I’m a capitalist. You’ve heard me say this before: I have no problem with corporations turning a fair profit or getting the return on their investment and innovation. But this isn’t remotely what’s happening.
Oil companies’ record profits today are not because they’re doing something new or innovative. Their profits are a windfall of war — the windfall from the brutal conflict that’s ravaging Ukraine and hurting tens of millions of people around the globe. You know, at a time of war, any company receiving historic windfall profits like this has a responsibility to act beyond their narrow self-interest of its executives and shareholders.
I think they have a responsibility to act in the interest of their consumers, their community, and their country; to invest in America by increasing production and refining capacity. Because they — they don’t want to do that. They — they have the opportunity to do that — lowering prices for consumers at the pump.
You know, if they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions. My team will work with Congress to look at these options that are available to us and others. It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities to this country, and give the American people a break and still do very well.
The American people are going to judge who’s standing with them and who is only looking out for their own bottom line. I know where I stand.
It is worth noting that Republicans have staked their takeover of Congress and state houses on inflation, especially in gas prices, but while offering no actual solutions, have actively obstructed efforts to mitigate the pain of higher costs to American families, for example, blocking efforts to address price gouging and the fact that energy companies have pocketed RECORD profits. Much of the pressure on prices is out of Biden’s control, since prices are set on a global market, and Saudi Arabia , in conjunction with OPEC, has decided to throw its support to Russia by reducing oil output in order to put further upward pressure on prices. Here is a White House Fact Sheet on new actions President Biden is taking to strengthen US energy security, encourage production and bring down costs:
President Biden is committed to doing everything in his power to respond to Putin’s Price Hike at the pump, and he is delivering. Gas prices fell at the fastest rate in over a decade this summer, with average prices down by about $1.15 per gallon since their peak in June – and just about 30 cents above levels on February 24, when the war in Ukraine began. In fact, gas prices have fallen 15 out of the last 18 weeks. According to an industry analyst, the most common price across the country today is $3.39.
President Biden is directing his Administration to take additional action to strengthen energy security, address the supply crunch, and lower costs.
First, the Department of Energy (DOE) is issuing a Notice of Sale tomorrow morning for 15 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to be delivered in December. This sale will complete the historic, 180-million-barrel drawdown the President announced in the spring, which has helped to stabilize crude oil markets and reduce prices at the pump. The President is also calling on DOE to be ready to move forward with additional significant SPR sales this winter if needed due to Russian or other actions disrupting global markets.
Second, the President is announcing that the Administration intends to repurchase crude oil for the SPR when prices are at or below about $67-$72 per barrel, adding to global demand when prices are around that range. As part of its commitment to ensure replenishment of the SPR, the DOE is finalizing a rule that will allow it to enter fixed price contracts through a competitive bid process for product delivered at a future date. This repurchase approach will protect taxpayers and help create certainty around future demand for crude oil. That will encourage firms to invest in production right now, helping to improve U.S. energy security and bring down energy prices that have been driven up by Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Third, the President is calling on companies to pass through lower energy costs to consumers right away. The profit that energy refining companies are now capturing on every gallon of gasoline is about double what it typically is at this time of year, and the retailer margin over the refinery price is more than 40 percent above the typical level. These outsized industry profit margins – adding more than $0.60 to the average price of a gallon of gas – have kept pump prices higher than they should be. Keeping prices high even as input costs fall is unacceptable, and the President will call on companies to pass their savings through to consumers – now.
Continuing to Use the SPR to Advance U.S. Energy Security
In March, following Putin’s further invasion of Ukraine, the President authorized the largest-ever release from the SPR and secured historic coordination with allies and partners to release crude oil from their reserves as well. Treasury Department economists estimate that these releases, along with coordinated releases from international partners, have reduced gas prices by as much as about $0.40 per gallon, compared to what they otherwise would have been. Average U.S. gas prices have declined by more than a dollar per gallon from their peak earlier this year.
Global crude oil supply flows remain a challenge, due in large part to the ongoing instability caused by Russia’s actions in Ukraine. To help stabilize markets and shore up supply in the face of these challenges, DOE will sell 15 million barrels from the SPR for delivery in December, issuing the Notice of Sale for these barrels in the morning. The sale, which completes the 180 million barrels the President authorized in the spring, will add about 500K barrels per day of supply onto the market in December, providing continued supply certainty and some price relief.
The U.S. SPR remains the largest strategic reserve in the world with about 400 million barrels remaining, which is greater than the amount of any SPR release in U.S. history. Even as DOE executes on the plan to refill the SPR to previous levels in coming years, the SPR remains more than ready to respond to energy security needs today.
The President is prepared to authorize significant additional sales in coming months if conditions require. DOE will be prepared to act quickly to inject additional supply into the market if needed, and the Administration will not hesitate to use this tool, or the others at its disposal, to shore up the global supply of energy, support domestic inventory levels, and bring prices down for Americans.
Using SPR Repurchases to Encourage Increases in Near-Term Production
The Administration is committed to replenishing the SPR, which is an important national security asset, so it can continue to serve its purpose well into the future. And, it is committed to doing so in a way that protects taxpayer interests, avoids putting upward pressure on prices in the near term, and encourages more production right now by providing certainty about repurchases in the future.
U.S. oil production is almost 12 million barrels per day. By the end of this year, it will be up by about one million barrels per day compared to when President Biden took office, and it is on track to reach a new annual high in 2023. However, a number of industry participants have suggested that, even with today’s high prices, they are concerned about investing in production when prices could fall in the future.
The Administration is announcing its intent to use SPR repurchases to add to global crude oil demand at times when the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil is at or below about $67 to $72 per barrel. This will protect taxpayer interests because the SPR will be repurchasing at a lower price than recent sales, potentially allowing it to repurchase more oil than it released with sale proceeds. It will also help address producer concerns about uncertain demand in future years, encouraging immediate investment.
DOE has finalized a first-of-its-kind rule that enables it to enter into fixed-price contracts with suppliers, through a competitive bid process, to repurchase oil for future delivery windows. This new authority will shore up demand for oil when supply is less uncertain and prices are anticipated to be lower. For example, if the market were to price barrels for delivery in mid-2024 at $70, the new rule allows DOE to enter into a contract now for mid-2024 delivery of oil at, around or lower than that price. DOE plans to use this authority to enter into contracts to repurchase oil for the SPR, targeting a price of about $67 to $72 per barrel or lower, with initial repurchases being delivered in 2024 or 2025. In addition, DOE is prepared to undertake additional SPR repurchases at times when the price of oil for current delivery drops to about $67 to $72 per barrel or lower, supplementing its future fixed-price contracts as appropriate.
This approach is a win for taxpayers – refilling the SPR at a lower price compared to the barrels sold. And it is a win for energy security – giving producers who enter into the contracts more certainty of continued oil demand to inform investment decisions today, thereby spurring needed increases in production at a time when Putin’s war continues to disrupt global energy markets.
Historic Actions Include Authorizing Defense Production Act to Lower Energy Costs, Strengthen Power Grid, and Create Good-Paying Jobs
I find it infuriating that the “news” is completely taken over by the latest travesties by Trump, Putin and Supreme Court, fueling anger and cynicism among Democrats and Progressives who may well take their anger out at the polls and simply not vote – that, I would remind you, is how we got Trump and this Christo Fascist Supreme Court. Biden Administration not doing anything on climate change? Inflation? Health care? Nonsense. This administration has been incredibly productive – finding real solutions, not bandaids, rhetoric and hype, that have at their foundation a sense of equity, sustainability and social justice. Want to solve inflation? Not by the Keystone Pipeline or overturning coal plant rules, but investing in EV infrastructure, as Biden wants to do. But you wouldn’t know it from the media, social or otherwise. It is our practice, then, to publish first-hand accounts from the White House, federal agencies and officials. –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Today’s clean energy technologies are a critical part of the arsenal we must harness to lower energy costs for families, reduce risks to our power grid, and tackle the urgent crisis of a changing climate. From day one, President Biden has mobilized investment in these critical technologies. Thanks to his clean energy and climate agenda, last year marked the largest deployment of solar, wind, and batteries in United States history, and our nation is now a magnet for investment in clean energy manufacturing.
Since President Biden took office, the private sector has committed over $100 billion in new private capital to make electric vehicles and batteries in the United States. We have made historic investments in clean hydrogen, nuclear, and other cutting-edge technologies. And companies are investing billions more to grow a new domestic offshore wind industry.
We are also now on track to triple domestic solar manufacturing capacity by 2024. The expansions to domestic solar manufacturing capacity announced since President Biden took office will grow the current base capacity of 7.5 gigawatts by an additional 15 gigawatts. This would total 22.5 gigawatts by the end of his first term – enough to enable more than 3.3 million homes to switch to clean solar energy each year.
While President Biden continues pushing Congress to pass clean energy investments and tax cuts, he is taking bold action to rapidly build on this progress and create a bridge to this American-made clean energy future. Today, President Biden is taking action to:
Authorize use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate domestic production of clean energy technologies, including solar panel parts;
Put the full power of federal procurement to work spurring additional domestic solar manufacturing capacity by directing the development of master supply agreements, including “super preference” status; and
Create a 24-month bridge as domestic manufacturing rapidly scales up to ensure the reliable supply of components that U.S. solar deployers need to construct clean energy projects and an electric grid for the 21st century, while reinforcing the integrity of our trade laws and processes.
Together, these actions will spur domestic manufacturing, construction projects, and good-paying jobs – all while cutting energy costs for families, strengthening our grid, and tackling climate change and environmental injustice. 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.
The stakes could not be higher. That is why President Biden also continues to urge Congress to quickly pass tax cuts and additional investments that advance U.S. clean energy manufacturing and deployment. Failing to take these actions would deny consumers access to cost-cutting clean energy options, add risks to our power grid, and stall domestic clean energy construction projects that are critical to tackling the climate crisis. At the same time, President Biden will keep using his executive authority to take bold action to build an American-made clean energy future.
INVOKING THE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT FOR CLEAN ENERGY
Today, President Biden is authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate domestic production of clean energy technologies – unlocking new powers to meet this moment. Specifically, the President is authorizing the Department of Energy to use the DPA to rapidly expand American manufacturing of five critical clean energy technologies:
Solar panel parts like photovoltaic modules and module components;
Heat pumps, which heat and cool buildings super efficiently;
Equipment for making and using clean electricity-generated fuels, including electrolyzers, fuel cells, and related platinum group metals; and
Critical power grid infrastructure like transformers.
In deploying the DPA, the Biden-Harris Administration will strongly encourage the use of strong labor standards, including project labor agreements and community benefits agreements that offer wages at or above the prevailing rate and include local hire provisions. The Administration also will strongly encourage projects with environmental justice outcomes that empower the clean energy transition in low-income communities historically overburdened by legacy pollution.
Following this announcement, the White House and the Department of Energy will convene relevant industry, labor, environmental justice, and other key stakeholders as we maximize the impact of the DPA tools made available by President Biden’s actions and strengthen domestic clean energy manufacturing.
BOOSTING MADE-IN-AMERICA CLEAN ENERGY WITH FEDERAL PROCUREMENT
President Biden is also putting the full power of federal procurement to work spurring additional domestic solar manufacturing capacity. Today, the President directed the development of two innovative tools to accelerate Made-in-America clean energy:
Master Supply Agreements for domestically manufactured solar systems to increase the speed and efficiency with which domestic clean electricity providers can sell their products to the U.S. Government; and
So-called “Super Preferences” to apply domestic content standards for federal procurement of solar systems, including domestically manufactured solar photovoltaic components, consistent with the Buy American Act.
These federal procurement measures can stimulate demand for up to a gigawatt of domestically produced solar modules in the near term, and up to 10 gigawatts over the next decade from U.S. government demand alone. To further increase the impact of these actions, the Administration will also partner with state and local governments and municipal utilities in these innovative arrangements – increasing the potential market impact over the next decade to as much as over 100 gigawatts. These procurement actions will provide a significant demand anchor for a revitalized domestic solar manufacturing industry.
SUPPORT FOR U.S. GRID-STRENGTHENING, CLEAN ENERGY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
Because of private investor confidence in President Biden’s leadership and our national commitment to a clean energy future, the United States is now on track to triple its solar manufacturing capacity by 2024. The expansions to domestic solar manufacturing capacity announced since the President took office will grow the current 7.5 gigawatts of capacity by an additional 15 gigawatts of capacity, for a total of 22.5 gigawatts by the end of his first term – enough to enable more than 3.3 million homes to switch to clean solar energy every year. To rapidly build on this progress and create a bridge to this American-made clean energy future, we need to boost short-term solar panel supply to support construction projects in the United States right now. This is because grid operators around the country are relying on planned solar projects to come online to ensure there is sufficient power to meet demand, and to ensure we can continue to deploy solar at the rates needed to keep us on track to meet the President’s climate goals.
Today, President Biden is using his powers to create a 24-month bridge for certain solar imports while reinforcing the integrity of our trade laws and processes. Specifically, the President is:
Temporarily facilitating U.S. solar deployers’ ability to source solar modules and cells from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam by providing that those components can be imported free of certain duties for 24 months in order to ensure the U.S. has access to a sufficient supply of solar modules to meet electricity generation needs while domestic manufacturing scales up; and
Reinforcing his commitment to safeguarding the integrity and independence of all ongoing trade investigations by career officials at the Department of Commerce and recognizing the vital role these processes play in strengthening our economy.
ADDITIONAL STEPS TO CUT COSTS, SUPPORT GOOD-PAYING JOBS, AND ADVANCE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Today’s actions build on this Administration’s existing initiatives to grow domestic clean energy innovation and manufacturing and to lower energy costs for Americans, including:
Permitting More Clean Energy on Public Lands. As part of the Biden-Harris Permitting Action Plan, a new five-agency collaboration is expediting reviews of clean energy projects on public lands through the Department of the Interior, helping us race ahead toward permitting at least 25 gigawatts by 2025 – enough to power around five million homes. These actions have already increased clean energy permitting activities by 35 percent, including major solar project approvals and leases. We have also launched five new Renewable Energy Coordination Offices and reduced rents and fees by more than 50 percent for solar and wind projects on public lands.
Boosting Community-Based Clean Energy in Cities and Rural Areas. The Biden-Harris Administration is helping 17 local communities remove red tape with the SolarAPP+ online tool to enable same-day approvals for residential solar installation permits, and an additional 400 interested communities are in the pipeline. The National Climate Task Force launched new initiatives on increasing deployment of Distributed Energy Resources, including rooftop solar, with a focus on bringing the benefits of these projects to underserved communities. The United States Department of Agriculture provided the largest-ever investment in rural renewable energy last year. In addition, the Department of Energy and the Department of Health and Human Services are partnering to develop and pilot a digital platform that will connect customers who are eligible for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program with community solar subscriptions, to further reduce customer energy costs. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is working with municipalities to enable residents of affordable housing to directly benefit from low-cost community solar power without seeing a rent increase or adjustment to their utility allowance.
Supporting a Diverse Solar Workforce with Good-Paying Jobs, including pathways to stable careers with the free and fair choice to join a union. Solar industry jobs consistently rank among the top fastest-growing in the nation, and many require only a high school education or GED. The Economic Development Administration recently awarded funding to support solar employment training in tribal and coal-impacted communities. In addition, the Department of Energy has issued a Request for Information and hosted six workshops to determine common goals and needs from stakeholders, including industry, unions, and training organizations. DOE will continue to explore these issues, including by providing funding, new collaborations with industry, other federal agencies, and state-based job boards to develop equitable worker-centric training and education programs, work-based learning opportunities, and support services such as career counseling, mentorship, and job readiness programs.
Developing Clean Energy Domestic Manufacturing for Export and Building Capacity in Allied Nations. The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Make More in America Initiative, approved by the EXIM board in April, will prioritize investments to expand clean energy manufacturing. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation supports building resilient clean energy manufacturing supply chains in allied nations around the world, reducing global dependence on China.
Investing in Clean Energy for Resilience in Puerto Rico: The Biden-Harris Administration joined forces with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to advance dozens of solar energy projects that will enable Puerto Rico to meet its target of 100% renewable electricity, while improving power sector resilience and increasing access to more affordable energy and cleaner air.
The White House has published a memo outlining President Biden’s plan to tackle inflation:
As our economy begins to transition to more stable growth, President Biden has made combatting inflation and lowering costs for families his top economic priority. President Biden’s plan to tackle inflation has three key pillars:
1. Reducing costs on everyday items
2. Lowering the deficit
3. Giving the Federal Reserve the independence it needs to act
The biggest single driver of inflation now is Putin’s war against Ukraine –increases in food and energy prices account for around 50% of this month’s CPI. Putin’s Price Hike hit hard in May: gas pump prices are up by $2 a gallon in many places since Russian troops began to threaten Ukraine. President Biden has taken action to blunt the impact of Putin’s Price Hike for families:
The President announced the release of a record 1 million barrels per day from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
He rallied our Allies and partners to join us, releasing a combined 240 million additional barrels of oil on the market.
He expanded access to biofuels like E15, which will lower prices at thousands of gas stations in the across the country.
While oil production is increasing and projected to reach a historic level next year, oil companies are sitting on 9,000 unused permits to drill more and pocketing the largest profits in years.
80% of a typical family’s monthly budget is spent on items other than food and energy. That means that even as we work to address energy and food prices in the near-term, making other necessities more affordable for working families can give families more breathing room at the end of the month.
President Biden announced that tens of millions of households – or nearly 40% of all households in America – will be able to save $50 per month or more on high-speed internet, which is now an economic necessity for American families.
President Biden took action to save hundreds of thousands of families hundreds of dollars a month by fixing the Affordable Care Act’s “family glitch.” Nearly 1 million Americans would see their coverage become more affordable.
President Biden has cut the deficit by $1.7 trillion – more this year than any President in history, reducing inflationary pressures.
The President calls on Congress to act urgently as well.
The President has called on Congress to pass a bill to crack down on ocean shippers to lower the price of goods. In the last year, shipping prices have gone up by as much as 1,000% driving higher prices for families on items from appliances to apparel.
The President calls on Congress to pass legislation to cut costs for families like energy bills and prescription drugs. According to an independent analysis, the clean energy tax credits and investments the President has proposed would save families $500 per year on their energy costs by 2030, and transition our economy away from relying on energy produced by autocrats like Putin. And the President believes that Congress should give Medicare the power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies, and that Congress should cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month. These reforms wouldn’t just lower costs for consumers; they would also reduce federal spending.
Congress could lower the deficit even more by asking the super wealthy and profitable corporations to pay their fair share. According to an outside analysis, 55 companies paid no money in taxes last year. It’s wrong for the super wealthy and profitable corporations to pay a lower tax rate than a teacher or firefighter.
Congressional Republicans’ only plan to tackle inflation increases taxes for working families. And, their attacks on gas prices are incoherent and dishonest.
Senator Rick Scott, a member of Senate Republican Leadership changed his words on his agenda to raise taxes on millions of working and middle class Americans by $1,500, but still said “We need them pulling the wagon and paying taxes” and that he “apologizes to absolutely nobody.” He also stood by his Congressional Republican plan to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every 5 years.
Congressional Republicans blame President Biden for gas prices, but the truth is that gas pump prices are up by $2 a gallon in many places since Russian troops began to threaten Ukraine. This is Putin’s price hike. A majority of Republicans in Congress support Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and our alliance to strengthen theirposition, and now cynically blame the President for Putin’s actions that have raised prices around the world. That’s not economics, that’s politics.
Congressional Republicans blame the administration for decreased oil production. The truth is oil production is projected to reach a historic level next year. When oil companies produce less, the cost goes up. In 2020, Americans stayed home more and drove less, so oil companies cut back on oil production and refining. Now, demand has returned, but oil production is still 10% below where it was pre-pandemic. Oil companies are sitting on 9,000 unused permits to drill more and pocketing the largest profits in years. The President has called for — and Congressional Democrats have voted for — a “use it or lose it” policy for permits on federal lands, and Congressional Republicans opposed it.
The five biggest oil companies made $35 billion in the first quarter of this year—that’s four times what they made in the same quarter last year. Congressional Republicans oppose making these companies pay their fair share in taxes.
Administration Launches $500 million Grant Program from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Program to Save Schools Money with Energy Upgrades
Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure to upgrade our public schools with modern, clean, energy efficient facilities and transportation—delivering health and learning benefits to children and school communities, saving school districts money, and creating good union jobs. The action plan activates the entire federal government in leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan to advance solutions including energy efficiency retrofits, electric school buses, and resilient design.
The science of learning and development has shown that students need school environments filled with safety, belonging, and health to learn and thrive. Yet many schools rely on outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that make classrooms less comfortable and may pose health risks to students and teachers exposed to contaminants or particles in the air that can trigger allergies or asthma attacks and potentially spread infectious diseases – including COVID-19. Dirty diesel buses pose additional health risks for students on board and the neighborhoods they travel through — and exhaust from idling buses can pollute the air around schools. Studies show that poor air quality inside classrooms takes a toll on student concentration and performance, and diesel exhaust exposure is linked to increased school absences. Reducing this pollution will provide better health and educational outcomes — particularly in low-income communities and communities of color that have long faced underinvestment and the burden of high pollution.
The action plan will save schools and taxpayers money. Public K-12 districts spend roughly $8 billion a year on energy bills — the second largest expense after teacher salaries. Energy efficiency improvements to HVAC systems, lighting, insulation, and other energy upgrades can not only protect the health of our children, but also unlock significant savings to go toward students and learning. Off-the-shelf improvements can provide energy savings of 10 to 30 percent and broader upgrades can unlock even more savings for years to come – all while creating opportunities for good paying union jobs for electricians, carpenters, painters, sheet metal workers, plumbers and pipefitters, and more.
The Administration is seizing the opportunity to align classrooms with the science of learning and development to improve educational equity and environmental justice. The new actions build on President Biden signing the American Rescue Plan into law one year ago, which helped reopen more than 99% of schools with resources to put in place critical health and safety measures like ventilation improvements to make in-person learning safe and accessible for students and educators.
The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure will:
Invest in More Efficient, Energy-Saving School Buildings: The Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a $500 million grant program through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make public schools more energy efficient. This new program will lower energy costs, improve air quality, and prioritize schools most in need, enabling schools to focus more resources on student learning.
Improve Classroom Air Quality through the American Rescue Plan: The Administration is supporting states, school districts, and local communities in leveraging American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief resources to address school infrastructure needs—like repairing, upgrading, or replacing of ventilation systems; purchasing air filters and portable air cleaning devices; and fixing doors and windows so that schools can stay open for in-person learning. Additionally, the Department of Treasury will soon release additional information to help school districts understand how they can use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for a range of air quality and other school facility improvements, including energy efficiency.
Help Schools Access Resources and Best Practices: The White House is releasing a toolkit to help schools and school districts access available funding, as well as technical assistance opportunities and planning tools to help schools improve air quality, energy efficiency, and more. This new toolkit will further support school participation in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which the Administration recently launched to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve indoor air quality in buildings of all kinds, including schools. The Department of Energy is also announcing the inaugural honorees of the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign, which provides technical assistance to school districts seeking to implement high-impact indoor air quality and efficiency improvements that will reduce energy bills and improve student and teacher health.
Expand Clean and Safe School Transportation: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from the Department of Energy (DOE), is releasing new online resources to help school districts and other eligible recipients prepare for the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—with the first opportunity to fund clean and electric buses opening later this spring. The DOE is working closely with the EPA to develop targeted technical assistance programs that assist school districts in implementing clean and electric buses effectively into their fleets–starting with a technical assistance video series on electric buses. To support projects that help students safely walk and bike to school, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has provided state and local governments with new guidance to access $90 billion in available federal funding, including Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs.
Support for Rural, Tribal, and Puerto Rican Schools: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing its full commitment to use its array of rural development loan and grant programs to support electric school bus acquisition, charging station infrastructure, energy efficiency investments at schools, and broadband and distance learning in rural school districts – to accelerate the shift from dirty fuel sources toward school facilities and vehicles powered by clean electricity. DOE is partnering with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to improve the state of our federally-operated schools. And the Administration’s Working Group on Puerto Rico has prioritized supporting school reconstruction.
Today’s announcements build on ongoing efforts to support students, including the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan to reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and child care facilities and the Justice40 Initiative, which agencies are implementing to deliver 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.
Investments to Improve School Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality
The Administration is advancing a suite of investments to upgrade our K-12 public school facilities, many of which face maintenance backlogs and are long overdue for new equipment. While teachers and education leaders have long raised concerns about the level of comfort and air quality in our classrooms, the pandemic has laid bare disparities in access to healthy facilities, including modern, efficient, and clean HVAC systems. Outdated, inefficient buildings also saddle underserved school districts with higher energy bills and generate significant greenhouse gas emissions, keeping them in a cycle of underfunding operations and overpaying maintenance costs. This Action Plan will help schools make facility improvements that simultaneously deliver health protections, savings, and climate benefits.
Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information to launch its new $500 million grant program for energy improvements at public school facilities, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The projects funded by these grants will improve the quality of the air our students and educators breathe while reducing energy costs and freeing up local funds to invest more in education. These grants can support comprehensive energy efficiency audits and building retrofits, HVAC and lighting upgrades, clean energy installation, and more—along with training to help staff maintain these improvements over the long-term. DOE will prioritize projects in rural and high-poverty schools, and support leveraging of additional private, philanthropic, and public funding to maximize the benefits of these grants. In step with the Administration’s priority to create good union jobs accessible to all workers, the DOE will work to promote high quality labor and equity standards into school improvement grants. The RFI solicits input from schools and other stakeholders on important design considerations to ensure the grant program achieves the greatest reach and impact.
The Administration is also leveraging the American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law one year ago, to address a range of health and safety issues in schools. The American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program has provided $122 billion to states and districts to help schools stay open and address the significant academic and mental health needs of students resulting from the pandemic. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan also includes$350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to support a wide range of pandemic response and recovery efforts, including school improvements to ventilation and building energy systems that reduce energy costs and support healthy environments. And, according to independent analysis, school districts are already planning to spend $15 billion of these funds to address facilities issues impacting student and staff health and safety, such as improving indoor air quality. The Department of Treasury will soon provide additional clarity to help recipients of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds understand how they can partner with local education agencies to use more of these funds for building upgrades and construction, including pre-project development costs, such as building assessments, energy audits, and feasibility studies. The Department of Education continues to outline how states and districts can use its funds for repairs and renovations, including improving indoor air quality through HVAC upgrades and door and window replacement, and ensuring clean drinking water in schools.
New Resources and Recognition to Support Schools To help schools access funding sources and technical assistance opportunities, the White House is releasing a toolkit mapping out available resources across the federal government for school infrastructure upgrades. By compiling resources and programs from across the federal government, this toolkit will help state and local officials find the support they need for building assessments, air quality improvements, energy efficiency upgrades, lead removal, resilience planning, and more. It builds on the Administration’s priority on improving indoor air quality through the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in buildings and to deliver better health outcomes and protection for all building occupants.
To support and uplift schools and districts undertaking this critical work, the Administration is announcing the first round of honorees as part of the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign, which provides technical assistance to school districts seeking to implement high-impact indoor air quality and efficiency improvements that will reduce energy bills and improve student and teacher health. This innovative campaign has a goal of reaching 5,000 schools by the end of 2022. To date, 26 school districts across 16 states have joined or are prepared to join the campaign—representing over 1,500,000 students in 2,600 individual schools—more than half way toward the campaign’s goal.
Today, the Campaign announced its first round of awards to eight school districts for their best-in-class efforts across four categories: Efficient HVAC Technologies, Inspection & maintenance, Ongoing Monitoring & Analytics, and Team Approach to Support Strategic Investments. The inaugural honorees include:
Adams 12 Five Star Schools, CO
Boulder Valley School District, CO
Charleston County School District, SC
Columbia Public Schools, MO
Davis School District, UT
Greenville County Schools, SC
Mariposa County Unified School District, CA
Newark Board of Education, NJ
DOE is also accelerating a range of grants, technical assistance, and lending to support schools along each step of the school improvement process. These efforts include the Better Buildings Challenge and its K-12 Sector partnerships; DOE’s new tool—eProject eXpress—that can support state and local governments and K-12 schools in project management for energy saving performance contracts, and help leverage financing to maximize impact; and DOE’s Loan Programs Office Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Solicitation that can be accessed by schools to provide up to $3 billion in loan guarantees for retrofit projects.
And to ensure that schools are supported in creating healthy, safe, sustainable, 21st century learning environments, the Department of Education is proposing a new Office of Infrastructure and Sustainability, as part of the President’s FY2023 Budget. This office would oversee a proposed National Clearinghouse on School Infrastructure and Sustainability and administer the ongoing U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award. The proposed National Clearinghouse on School Infrastructure and Sustainability would provide technical assistance and training to state and local education agencies on issues related to educational facility planning, design, financing, construction, improvement, operation, and maintenance, including green building design and operation practices consistent with the Administration’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis. The Clearinghouse would also develop resources and assemble best practices on issues related to ensuring equitable access to healthy, educationally adequate and environmentally and fiscally sustainable public-school facilities and grounds. To set the stage for this new office, the Department of Education recently named a Special Advisor for Infrastructure and Sustainability to spearhead agency-wide consideration of how existing programs might support school sustainability and infrastructure.
These actions build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which calls on all building owners and operators, schools, colleges and universities, and organizations of all kinds to adopt key strategies to improve indoor air quality in their buildings and reduce the spread of COVID-19. It serves as a call to action to assess indoor air quality and make ventilation and air filtration improvements to help keep occupants safe. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a best practices guide for improving indoor air quality and reducing the risk of spreading dangerous airborne particles.
Clean and Safe School Transportation School buses safely transport more than 25 million children every day across America. However, diesel exhaust from buses produces particulate matter and other pollutants that can cause lung damage and aggravate asthma and other health problems in children. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, with support and technical assistance from the Department of Energy, are making historic investments in cleaner school buses and safer school transportation routes.
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency is building public awareness for the new $5 billion Clean School Bus Program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Throughout the next month, EPA will regularly post new online resources and webinars for the Clean School Bus Program to help school districts and other eligible recipients prepare for the first round of applications. These resources build upon EPA’s public education and outreach effort, to gather ideas and increase awareness within communities and school districts, particularly for lower-resourced schools—in support of the President’s Justice40 commitment.
The Department of Transportation is helping communities take advantage of funding to support safer routes to schools made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program at DOT helps communities plan, design, and construct infrastructure projects that increase healthy transportation choices and substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle safely to school—particularly in communities underserved by safe transportation options. Since 2015, the SRTS program has supported over $1 billion in safe school route projects benefiting nearly 7 million students across more than 17,000 schools—a third of which were in disadvantaged communities and Title I schools.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law expanded the eligibility of the SRTS program to schools through 12th grade and added eligibility for safe school route projects through the nearly $17 billion-per-year Highway Safety Improvement Program—including for use in training and education.
Support for Rural, Tribal, and Puerto Rican Schools The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today a new commitment to support school facility and vehicle electrification, including school buses. In support of this commitment, USDA released a new guidance that informs how Rural Development programs can support rural electric cooperatives to advance electrification projects for schools and other public facilities and vehicles.
These funding and assistance programs can support rural utilities like those in a newly formed Electric Cooperative School Bus Initiative , a collaboration of more than 350 local distribution cooperatives across 32 states, providing educational and administrative support to help rural communities access funding for electric school buses and school bus infrastructure.
Additionally, DOE is partnering with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to improve the state of our federally-operated schools. Aligning with the President’s Justice 40 Initiative, the DOE Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) is assisting BIE to initiate a set of pilot assessments in Tribal schools for energy efficiency and indoor air quality projects.
The Administration’s Working Group on Puerto Rico has prioritized supporting school reconstruction efforts on the island. Agencies collaborated on a toolkit in both English and Spanish outlining federal resources available to help Puerto Rico recover and rebuild safe, healthy and modernized school facilities. Agencies have also provided technical assistance to Puerto Rican officials on how they can leverage multiple funding streams to rebuild, repair, and modernize their schools.
Support for Training and Workforce Development School improvements provide critical training opportunities for building an effective workforce. Large school projects often last multiple years and draw upon a large mix of trades. This continuity of training and employment makes them ideal opportunities for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs that lead directly to good-paying careers. And when done alongside the President’s Justice40 Initiative, these investments will prioritize under-resourced schools while also investing in communities that can benefit from long-term training and employment.
The Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Initiative is supporting federal agency partners as they embed job quality and equity policies into their infrastructure investments. The Good Jobs Initiative is supporting federal agency partners as they work to leverage their infrastructure investments to provide meaningful opportunities for all communities to enter good paying union careers.
The wide array of federal offerings can support initiatives such as the Carbon Free and Healthy Schools campaign–which is led by labor unions in collaboration with students, parents, and climate advocates across the country–to create safe, healthy, and cost-effective school environments through building retrofits and solarization, while supporting strong labor standards and robust worker training opportunities. The campaign is currently working with school districts representing more than five million students across Texas, California, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Michigan, Maine, and Wisconsin, with more state campaigns in formation.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— As part the new Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information (RFI) for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050.
“Children should be able to learn and grow in environments that are not plagued with poor insulation and ventilation, leaky roofs, or poor heating and cooling,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden fought for these funds to give schools and their communities the resources they need to improve student and teacher health and cut energy costs, allowing districts to focus more resources on student learning.”
Many of America’s public schools are in desperate need of energy improvements. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s 100,000 public K-12 schools a D+ in their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure report. Dilapidated school facilities can negatively affect student learning and health as indoor air quality problems can aggravate respiratory illnesses, reduce student and teacher attendance and performance, and increase risk of transmission of respiratory infections like COVID-19.
Energy consumption is the second-highest operational expense schools face with a significant portion of this energy lost through leaky school walls, windows, and other inefficient equipment and systems. Districts that serve rural, high poverty, or Hispanic/Latino, African American, and Native American communities experience the greatest burden of failing or antiquated school facilities.
Public school facilities will be eligible for energy improvements that result in a direct reduction in school energy costs, including improvements to the air conditioning and heating, ventilation, hot water heating, and lighting systems. In addition, funding would support any improvement, repair, renovation to, or installation in a school that leads to an improvement in teacher and student health.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s grant funding will also support additional improvements, repairs, or renovations such as the installation of renewable energy technologies, the installation of alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds such as school buses or the purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school.
DOE encourages Local Education Agencies, school staff, states, local governments, energy service companies, unions, service providers, and utilities to respond to the RFI.
The deadline to submit your response to this RFI is May 18, 2022, at 5 p.m. ET. Download the RFI to see the full list of questions and instructions on how to submit your response.
Americans are recoiling at rising prices at the pump, failing to appreciate that Europeans are seeing prices rise 45%, and despite the fact our supplies are not impacted by the embargo on Russian oil. Rather, Big Oil continues to record record profits, use windfall profits to buy back stock, reward shareholders and pay bonuses to CEOs. President Biden is appealing to the companies’ “patriotism” by pumping more supply and not pocketing quite as much, and also warning against price-gouging. He is also pushing the oil companies to utilize unused leases. Here is a fact sheet from the White House of how President Biden is responding to what he has dubbed “Putin’s Price Hike” at the pump: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Americans face rising prices at the pump because of Putin’s Price Hike. Since Putin accelerated his military build-up around Ukraine, gas prices have increased by nearly a dollar per gallon. Because of Putin’s war of choice, less oil is getting to market, and the reduction in supply is raising prices at the pump for Americans. President Biden is committed to doing everything in his power to help American families who are paying more out of pocket as a result. That is why President Biden announced a two-part plan to ease the pain that families are feeling by increasing the supply of oil starting immediately and achieving lasting American energy independence that reduces demand for oil and bolsters our clean energy economy.
Immediately Increasing Supply
At the start of this year, gas was about $3.30 a gallon. Today, it’s over $4.20, an increase of nearly $1. And now, a significant amount of Russian oil is not making it to market. The President banned the import of Russian oil – which Republicans and Democrats in Congress called for and supported. It was the right thing to do. But, as the President said, Russian oil coming off the global market would come with a cost, and Americans are seeing that at the pump.
The first part of the President’s plan is to immediately increase supply by doing everything we can to encourage domestic production now and through a historic release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to serve as a bridge to greater supply in the months ahead.
Increasing Domestic Production
The fact is that there is nothing standing in the way of domestic oil production. The United States is already approaching record levels of oil and natural gas production. There are oil companies that are doing the right thing and committing to ramp up production now. Right now, domestic production is expected to increase by 1 million barrels per day this year and nearly 700,000 barrels per day next year.
Still, too many companies aren’t doing their part and are choosing to make extraordinary profits and without making additional investment to help with supply. One CEO even acknowledged that, even if the price goes to $200 a barrel, they’re not going to step up production.
Right now, the oil and gas industry is sitting on more than 12 million acres of non-producing Federal land with 9,000 unused but already-approved permits for production. Today, President Biden is calling on Congress to make companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven’t used in years and on acres of public lands that they are hoarding without producing. Companies that are producing from their leased acres and existing wells will not face higher fees. But companies that continue to sit on non-producing acres will have to choose whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre.
Historic Release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a Bridge Through the Crisis
After consultation with allies and partners, the President will announce the largest release of oil reserves in history, putting one million additional barrels on the market per day on average – every day – for the next six months. The scale of this release is unprecedented: the world has never had a release of oil reserves at this 1 million per day rate for this length of time. This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up.
The Department of Energy will use the revenue from the release to restock the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in future years. This will provide a signal of future demand and help encourage domestic production today, and will ensure the continued readiness of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to respond to future emergencies.
President Biden is coordinating this action with allies and partners around the world, and other countries are expected to join in this action, bringing the total release to well over an average 1 million barrels per day.
Achieving Real American Energy Independence
The United States is the largest oil producer in the world and is a net energy exporter. Despite that, the actions of a dictator half a world away can still impact American families’ pocketbooks. The President will announce his commitment to achieving real energy independence – which centers on reducing our dependence on oil altogether.
The President will call on Congress to pass his plan to speed the transition to clean energy that is made in America. His plan will help ensure that America creates millions of good-paying union jobs in clean, cutting-edge industries for generations to come. And it will save American families money in the immediate future – including more than $950 a year in gas savings from taking advantage of electric vehicles, and an additional $500 a year from using clean electricity like solar and heat pumps to power their homes.
And, the President will issue a directive, authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act to secure American production of critical materials to bolster our clean energy economy by reducing our reliance on China and other countries for the minerals and materials that will power our clean energy future. Specifically, the DPA will be authorized to support the production and processing of minerals and materials used for large capacity batteries–such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese—and the Department of Defense will implement this authority using strong environmental, labor, community, and tribal consultation standards. The sectors supported by these large capacity batteries—transportation and the power sector—account for more than half of our nation’s carbon emissions. The President is also reviewing potential further uses of DPA – in addition to minerals and materials – to secure safer, cleaner, and more resilient energy for America.
This week alone, President Biden announced historic efforts to increase energy efficiency and lower costs for consumers. The Department of Energy opened applications for more than $3 billion in new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding—ten times the historical funding levels of the Weatherization Assistance Program—for energy efficiency and electrification upgrades in thousands of homesthat will save families hundreds of dollars on utility bills. The Administration also advanced smart standards that will lower consumer costs, including a roadmap of 100 actions this year that will save families $100 annually through more efficient home appliances and equipment, as well as new fuel economy standards for cars and trucksto save drivers money at the pump. And the Administration is seeking additional opportunities to ramp up the deployment of heat pumps to displace fuel burned in buildings, as well as programs to drive efficiency, electrification, and use of clean fuels in the industrial sector.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine likely to take up a large measure of President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union speech, he is unlikely to have enough time or space to detail his accomplishments and his agenda going forward. Here are more details from the White House about the Biden Administration’s historic investments to create opportunity and build wealth in rural America:
President Biden is committed to ensuring that rural Americans have the opportunity to succeed – and that they can find that opportunity in rural America. This commitment is not just vital for rural Americans, but vital for the country as a whole. For centuries, rural Americans have driven the country’s economic growth and provided the country and the world with food and fuel—and they continue to do so today. They are small business owners revitalizing Main Streets. They care for our land, ensuring that all Americans have access to nature and recreation.
In its first year, the Biden Administration has made historic investments in rural communities through the American Rescue Plan: slashing poverty and lowering costs, creating jobs and new economic opportunities, and expanding access to health care. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a once-in-a-generation federal investment so that all rural Americans gain access to clean drinking water, are able to use high-speed broadband internet for education and business, and have safe roads and bridges for both people and goods. In addition, the Administration has invested $2.8 billion in coal and power plant communities, ensuring that these communities that fueled our country’s industrial revolution will continue to thrive in decades to come.
In the year ahead, the Biden Administration will partner with rural America to determine how best to invest these unprecedented federal resources to support local priorities.
Lowering costs for working families in rural America
The Biden Administration is building a stronger, more equitable economy that does not leave anyone behind, including rural communities that for too long have faced underinvestment and persistent poverty. Already, because of the Administration’s support for working families through the American Rescue Plan, rural poverty is estimated to have fallen by 70 percent in 2021. President Biden knows working families are the backbone of our economy, and is delivering for them in rural America.
Tax relief for rural working families. The American Rescue Plan increased the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for children over the age of six, and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under the age of six, while raising the age limit from 16 to 17 for 2021. The President’s plans call for extending this critical tax cut, which expired in December 2021. The American Rescue Plan also ensured that all lower- and moderate-income families were eligible for the full expanded child tax credit. In addition, the American Rescue Plan nearly tripled the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without dependent children to $1,500, benefitting about 2.7 million rural workers.
Lowering rural Americans’ rent and mortgage payments and energy and water bills. The American Rescue Plan enabled single-family, COVID-affected borrowers with mortgages backed by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to refinance their mortgages and provided rental assistance to 26,000 rural tenants. Rural Americans have also benefitted from the Department of the Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Homeowner Assistance Fund, which together provided tens-of-billions of dollars to keep people safely housed during the pandemic. In addition, the American Rescue Plan provided $4.5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program—more than doubling typical annual funding—and $500 million for the first-ever federal water assistance program, lowering water and wastewater bills for rural households.
Lower child care costs and support child care providers. Even before the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of rural Americans lived in areas where there is a significant shortage of licensed child care slots, with nine infants and toddlers for every one child care slot in rural America. Rural children are less likely to be enrolled in pre-K programs than urban and suburban children. The pandemic made it harder for rural families to access these programs – with 1 in 11 licensed child care providers closing before between December 2020 and March 2021. The President secured $39 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to provide a lifeline to child care providers so they could stay open without raising prices for families. This funding has already reached more than 150,000 child care providers, including those across rural America. The American Rescue Plan also provided funding to all 1,600 Head Start grantees, which serve the vast majority of rural counties and sometimes serve as the only provider in a rural community. This funding helped allow these grantees to serve 91% of Head Start children fully in-person, compared to 38% in December 2020. Early care and education were out of reach for too many rural families before the pandemic, which is why the President has also called on Congress to cut child care spending in half for most families, offer every 3- and 4-year old free preschool, and boost the number of high-quality child care programs in high-need areas, including in rural America.
Helping states and local governments – as well as tribes and territories – provide additional direct assistance to lower families’ costs. The American Rescue Plan delivered $350 billion for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, providing support for critical investments in 3,000 counties and 30,000 small towns. These funds offer the flexibility local governments need to address their communities’ most pressing needs. Already, over 20 states and scores of counties have used these funds to directly help families, including critical food assistance, utility assistance, and other help with basics for the hardest hit families. For example, Macon-Bibb County, GA committed $2.5 million to fight food insecurity in the community, including funds to address food deserts and support local food banks; New Hanover County, NH has committed $1 million to support homeowners who are behind on their mortgage; and Doña Ana County, NM has committed $1.2 million in direct medical relief funds for COVID-19 medical bills.
Lowering costs and improving access to an education beyond high school for rural students. The Department of Education (ED) is investing $198 million in American Rescue Plan funding for competitive grants for rural colleges and universities that serve a high percentage of low-income students and are experiencing enrollment declines. With this funding, rural institutions can cover the cost of COVID-19 mitigation efforts, such as testing and personal protective equipment; support their students’ ability to meet basic needs by providing meal vouchers, childcare subsidies, and mental health services; facilitate continued enrollment and re-enrollment through support services such as academic counseling; and expand workforce programs that lead to in-demand jobs.
Improved access to affordable, nutritious food for rural Americans. Through the American Rescue Plan, USDA expanded access to the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program, including through the summer, to allow families with children receiving school meals to purchase healthy food more easily. The American Rescue Plan also increased SNAP benefits by 15% through September 2021. Beginning on October 1, 2021, USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan update increased SNAP benefits by $36.30 per person per month on average. These updates will increase the well-being of 2.9 million people in rural areas, including 800,000 children, reducing rural poverty by 11 percent and rural child poverty by 20 percent. USDA also invested $1 billion, including $500 million in American Rescue Plan funding, in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to support and expand emergency food access so states, food banks, and local organizations can reliably serve their communities, with a focus on reaching rural and underserved areas.
Creating jobs in rural America and supporting rural-led economic development
The Biden Administration is committed to expanding opportunity to all corners of the country. That means good-paying, union jobs and economic opportunity in rural communities so that today’s workers can live with dignity and security, and rural youth can see a bright future right in their hometowns. As of October 2021, the unemployment rate in rural counties that experience persistent poverty had returned to pre-pandemic levels, ranging from 3.4 percent to 4.7 percent. President Biden will continue building on that progress and the many efforts across the Administration to create jobs and build wealth in rural America.
Build resilient rural economies. The American Rescue Plan invested a historic $3 billion in the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Economic Development Administration (EDA) to build local economies that are resilient to future economic shocks, including a $300 million Coal Communities Commitment. In December 2021, EDA announced 60 finalists for its $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, which will support regional coalitions to develop transformative projects that strengthen regional industry clusters. These finalists include 12 coal communities, and more than 80% of the finalists propose to serve rural communities, including ten proposals focused on growing or developing agriculture and natural resource industries.
Revitalize America’s energy communities. In February 2021, President Biden established the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization to identify and deliver resources to the coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities that have powered our country for generations. The working group identified 25 communities across the country for immediate strategic investment. Since then, member agencies have delivered more than $2.8 billion in federal investment to these communities, including $167 million through USDA’s Renewable Energy for America Program and the Electric Loan Program. The working group also established a resource clearinghouse with more than $181 billion in open and planned funding opportunities for energy communities, to facilitate access to federal programs.
Invest in state and local workforce programs and small business support. More than half of all states are using the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to retain and train workers for new and better jobs, and over 20 states have provided direct support to small businesses. Wisconsin’s $9.4 million investment in American Rescue Plan funds in University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s regional workforce development strategy recruits and connects rural workers and students with careers in healthcare, education, and social services – areas where the state has critical shortages. Gallatin County, MT is investing $2 million in American Rescue Plan funds to develop and expand programs in construction trades, welding, fabrication, manufacturing and healthcare. And, local governments are using American Rescue Plan funds to retain essential workers across the country, from Erie, NY to St. Croix County, WI to Umatilla County, OR.
Support outreach and technical assistance to rural businesses. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Navigator Pilot Program, funded by the American Rescue Plan, is reducing barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs – including those in rural America – often face in accessing the resources they need to recover, grow, or start their businesses. The program is providing a total of $100 million to 51 nonprofits, state and local governments, universities, and tribal entities that will work with organizations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to provide technical assistance to small businesses in underserved communities.
Advance workforce development solutions in rural communities. The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative (WORC) is a partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority to support workers in rural communities impacted by economic transitions, especially in the energy sector. WORC funds provide job training and support services to dislocated workers, incumbent workers, and new entrants to the workforce to help connect them with good jobs in high-demand occupations. In 2021, DOL announced a third round of WORC grants for $29 million to 23 organizations, demonstrating the Biden Administration’s ongoing commitment to strengthening economic stability and opportunities for workers in rural communities.
Grow rural America’s outdoor recreation economy by expanding hunting and fishing. To help expand rural America’s outdoor recreation economy, the Biden Administration last year opened new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on 2.1 million acres of public lands, the largest such expansion in U.S. history. The Administration also recently announced a record $1.5 billion in annual funding through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program to support state and local outdoor recreational opportunities, and wildlife and habitat conservation efforts. These efforts, along with a new Task Force on Collaborative Conservation that the Administration launched in partnership with the Western Governors Association, will support America’s hunting and fishing traditions and help power the continued growth of the nation’s outdoor economy. In addition, the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior are collaborating to invest $2.8 billion under the Great American Outdoors Act to improve access, experiences, and partnerships for outdoor recreation that not only promote tourism but also protect America’s public lands while creating jobs and opportunities in rural communities. EDA is also investing $750 million in American Rescue Plan funding through the Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation program, including $510 million that has already been provided to states.
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities
The COVID-19 pandemic spared no part of the country, but rural communities have faced additional challenges that impact the delivery of services and assistance, including limited health care infrastructure and clinicians. As our nation turned the tide of the pandemic from crisis to recovery, the Biden Administration worked to ensure rural communities have the tools they need to combat COVID-19, keep schools open and safe, and come back stronger than before.
Safely reopen rural schools and help students make up for lost learning time. The American Rescue Plan surged $130 billion to our states, territories, tribes, and local communities to help them safely reopen our schools and keep them open, while addressing the impacts of the pandemic on students, including on their learning and mental health. Roughly $16 billion of these funds went to rural communities and $850 million went to Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools and Tribally-controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs). These are critical resources that are helping rural communities and school districts meet key challenges, including funds that school districts can use to address staff shortages. In addition, investments in broadband in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be critical to supporting the education of young people in rural communities and closing the homework gap. As part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to reopen healthy learning environments, USDA issued a broad range of flexibilities and provided significant additional resources to allow school meal programs across the country to return to serving nutritious meals in fall 2021.
Dedicated COVID-19 testing for rural hospitals and clinics. The Biden Administration delivered $425 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support COVID-19 testing and mitigation in 4,200 rural health clinics, and $398 million in funding to support COVID-19 testing and mitigation for over 1,500 small rural hospitals. HHS provided up to $100,000 per clinic and up to $230,000 per hospital to increase COVID-19 testing, expand access to testing in rural communities, and broaden efforts to respond to and mitigate the spread of the virus in ways tailored to community needs.
Deliver rapid tests to rural health clinics. HHS is currently distributing millions of rapid over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests to rural health clinics that reach uninsured and underserved communities, often among those hardest-hit by the pandemic.
Increase vaccine education and outreach efforts in rural communities. The Biden Administration awarded over $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to rural health clinics across the country to support vaccine outreach in rural communities. This funding is being used to assist rural residents in accessing vaccinations, as well as education and outreach efforts around the benefits of vaccination.
Expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and supplies, while strengthening rural health care providers. The American Rescue Plan provided $500 million for USDA to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program. The program provides $350 million to help rural hospitals and local communities increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing, medical supplies, telehealth, and food assistance, and support the construction or renovation of rural health care facilities. It also provides recovery funds that compensate for lost revenue or staffing expenses due to COVID-19. In addition, the program provides up to $125 million in grants to plan and implement models that help improve the long-term viability of rural health care providers, including health care networks that allow rural providers to collectively address community challenges and develop innovative solutions.
Improving access to health care and lowering health care costs for rural communities
Rural communities face persistent disparities in health outcomes and access to care, including higher rates of uninsured individuals, health care workforce shortages, and often difficulty reaching the nearest hospital. In many rural communities, the hospital is the largest employer in the area, providing jobs and supporting the local economy. Yet, rural hospitals have increasingly closed their doors, including 19 in 2020 alone. And rural hospital closures have been pervasive in non-expansion states. Of the ten states with the most rural hospital closures since 2010, most are in non-expansion states —the only two that are not, Oklahoma and Missouri, just began their expansions in 2021. Moreover, rural counties in the South are racially and ethnically diverse, and in some non-expansion states, rural hospitals that closed were more likely to be in counties with a higher share of Black residents. Similar disparities exist for rural hospitals at risk of closure. The Biden Administration is taking action to improve the health of rural communities by ensuring rural Americans have the health care and coverage they need and deserve and helping rural hospitals stay open.
Lower health care costs for rural Americans. The American Rescue Plan has done more to lower costs and expand access to health care than any action since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It has made quality coverage more affordable than ever—with families saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums, and four out of five consumers finding quality coverage for under $10 a month. The President’s plan continues these savings, keeping health insurance affordable for millions of Americans, including those living in rural communities.
Expand rural health care coverage and keep rural hospitals open. Since President Biden took office, nearly 700,000 rural Americans have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act and the American Rescue Plan. Throughout 2021, the Administration ensured that rural Americans who needed coverage could sign up for it, including through the most recent HealthCare.gov Open Enrollment period in which over 1.8 million rural Americans enrolled in coverage. The President’s plan builds on that progress, expanding Medicaid coverage in those states that have refused to expand it. Closing this gap is estimated to reduce the risk of rural hospital closure by 62%. Rural hospital closures deprive people living in rural areas of crucial services, including access to emergency care. To fill this gap, HHS will establish a new provider type, Rural Emergency Hospitals, which will allow facilities to offer emergency department services, observation care, and/or outpatient services in rural areas.
Support rural health care providers. The American Rescue Plan provided $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to help compensate health care providers who serve rural Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) patients for lost revenue and increased expenses associated with COVID-19. In December 2021, HHS announced that it distributed $7.5 billion of these funds to 40,000 providers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and six territories. These funds help ensure that providers can effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including supporting recruitment and retention efforts amidst workforce shortages and staff burnout, and place them on stable financial footing to continue serving their communities into the future.
Increase the number of health care providers in rural communities. The Administration made a historic $1.5 billion investment, including $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan, in its health workforce loan repayment and scholarship programs. More than 22,700 primary care clinicians funded by these programs now serve in underserved communities, including rural and tribal communities—the largest number ever. This group of health care providers includes nearly 20,000 National Health Service Corps members, more than 2,500 Nurse Corps nurses, and approximately 250 awardees under a new program, the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program. Currently, one-third of HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration workforce serves in a rural community where health care access may be especially limited or require patients to travel long distances to receive treatment. HHS is also making $48 million from the American Rescue Plan available to expand public health capacity in rural and tribal communities through health care job development, training, and placement. This will increase the number of well-trained health care professionals and connect them with future employers, including hospitals and clinics in rural areas.
Expand access to pulmonary rehabilitation services. This year, HHS will support a demonstration project to enhance access to pulmonary rehabilitation services in Critical Access Hospitals that serve rural communities with high rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., and adults in rural areas are almost twice as likely to have it compared to those in urban areas.
Expand Veterans Affairs training programs for rural providers outside of the VA system. The Rural Interprofessional Faculty Development Initiative, developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is an innovative two-year training program designed to provide teaching and training skills for clinicians in rural settings, preparing rural clinicians to take on faculty roles, mentor medical professionals to serve in rural America, and grow the healthcare workforce in rural communities. In 2021, VA launched a new joint initiative with HHS, adding non-VA community clinicians to the program. This joint initiative will benefit up to 40 rural communities each year and enable rural clinicians to better train the next generation of clinicians who will serve rural America.
Increase access to telehealth. Telehealth services greatly increased during the pandemic and the Biden-Harris Administration has issued several telehealth supports including research conducted by NIH; funding for broadband, smart phones and internet connectivity; and an expansion of eligible services that can be delivered via telehealth, including a new rule that expands access to tele-mental health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare will also now pay for mental health visits furnished via telehealth when they are provided by Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers. This policy expands access to Medicare beneficiaries, especially those living in rural and other underserved areas.
Ensure access to effective treatment and recovery for substance use disorders. In January, HHS announced the availability of $13 million in funding to increase access to behavioral health care services and address health inequities in rural America, including through evidence-based, trauma-informed treatment for substance use disorder.
Address America’s mental health crisis. Through the American Rescue Plan, the Administration has made significant investments in expanding access to mental health and substance use services. The President’s FY22 budget also calls for investments in the mental health care workforce that will help address the shortage of professionals in rural and underserved areas. The Administration is committed to additional actions to address the mental health crisis by building workforce capacity, connecting more people to care, and creating a continuum of support for all Americans.
Support states in making public health investments through the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Over two thirds of states and hundreds of communities have already committed funds from the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to address public health needs in their communities. For example, the State of Colorado is investing in an online training curriculum for providers in rural areas on mental health and substance use disorders to improve behavioral health supports. Bowie County, TX partnered with Christus St. Michael Hospital to provide vaccines at the hospital facility and several mobile vaccine clinics throughout the county, to reach the rural area of the county.
Rebuilding rural America’s infrastructure with a once-in-a-generation investment
For far too long, critical infrastructure needs in rural communities have been ignored. Building on an initial investment in the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers on the President’s promises to provide high speed internet, safe roads and bridges, modern wastewater systems, clean drinking water, reliable and affordable electricity, and good paying jobs in every rural community. A generational investment in rural America, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will spend billions of dollars to revitalize and rebuild rural communities across the country.
Provide high-speed internet to every home and making internet affordable for low-income rural Americans. By one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural areas across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $65 billion to make high-speed internet available to all Americans, bring down high-speed internet prices across the board, and provide technical assistance to rural communities seeking to expand broadband. In addition, it will help families afford internet service by providing eligible households with a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet services, as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop or tablet.
Invest in critical rural broadband and water infrastructure through the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Through the American Rescue Plan’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, 20 states have expanded access to high-speed internet and 21 states are improving water and sewer infrastructure, including lead removal. Additionally, many local communities are leveraging American Rescue Plan funds to expand broadband services in rural areas. For example, Kandiyohi County, MN made an initial $1.3 million investment in a project that will expand high-speed broadband to rural townships. Miami County, FL allocated $1.4 million to help fund an expansion of high-speed internet to rural parts of the county, including to underserved students in low-income areas. Oconto County, WI approved $2 million to provide high-speed wireless internet to underserved rural areas.
Create good-paying jobs cleaning up legacy pollution in rural communities. The President is committed to creating good-paying jobs in rural communities across the country and ensuring those communities are safe, high-quality places to live. Legacy pollution from industries that extracted natural resources from rural areas and left behind huge quantities of environmental degradation has held back the economic growth and success of rural communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is creating good-paying jobs cleaning up these sites by investing $4.7 billion through an interagency initiative to plug, remediate, and restore dangerous orphan well sites across the country; nearly $11.3 billion to create good-paying union jobs and catalyze economic opportunity by reclaiming abandoned mine lands; and $1 billion to initiate cleanup and clear the backlog of 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country.
Improve rural Americans’ access to transit systems and functional highway systems to they can get to school and work and bring their products to market. Limited access to transportation options in rural and remote areas impedes American’s access to jobs, basic services, and their communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests billions of dollars to make sure rural families can get where they need to go, including through a $4.58 billion investment in Rural Area Formula Grants at the Department of Transportation (DOT). This program will support 1,300 rural transit systems by enabling them to purchase transit vehicles and infrastructure, plan transit more effectively, and fund operations. This investment builds on $282 million in American Rescue Plan funding that helped rural transit systems maintain and restore service during the pandemic.
Ensure clean drinking water and basic sanitation in rural homes. Across the country, including in rural and Tribal communities, pipes and treatment plants are aging and polluted drinking water endanger public health. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s transformative $55 billion investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure will fundamentally change quality of life for millions of Americans by eliminating lead pipes, providing critical access to sanitation, ensuring access to affordable clean drinking water, and reducing drought.
Build rural communities resilient to natural disasters and the threats of climate change. Last year, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses over $1 billion – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. These included damaging floods, wildfires, and wind storms across rural America. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will improve the resilience of rural communities by investing $3.5 billion to improve home energy efficiency for low-income families, reducing energy costs, improving household comfort and safety, and cutting pollution.
Invest in resilience and restoration on national forest lands. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will restore our national forests through the planting of 1.2 billion trees over the next decade, coupled with landmark investments in science-based hazardous fuels treatments that will protect communities from wildfire. The resources in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide a critical down payment to implement the USDA Forest Service’s 10-year strategy to reduce wildfire, which has a goal of treating 50 million acres across Federal and non-Federal lands.
Provide high-quality, safe roads and bridges for rural communities. While Americans living in rural areas account for just 20% of the population, they comprise nearly half of all roadway fatalities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will deliver safer roads, bridges, railway crossings, and other critical improvement to the quality and safety of our roadways. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also invests $1.2 billion to complete the Appalachian Development Highway System, connecting the rural regions of Appalachia, creating jobs, and linking businesses with domestic and international markets.
Upgrade electric and transmission infrastructure in rural America. Power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. For example, the recent Texas power outages caused estimated losses of up to $90 billion for the state. At times, rural communities can be without power for days during these outages. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $1 billion in Energy Improvement in Rural or Remote Areas to support entities in rural or remote areas to increase environmental protection from the impacts of energy use and improve resilience, reliability, safety, and availability of energy.
Explore the use of materials made from bioproducts to open up new market opportunities for farmers. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $10 million in grants to support research on the economic, social and environmental benefits of using materials derived from bioproducts in the development and manufacturing of construction and consumer products.
Strengthening the food system and creating market opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers and foresters
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, American farmers, ranchers, processors, farmworkers, and other workers across the supply chain continued to adapt and put food on the table for American families, despite disruptions and other challenges. The Biden-Harris Administration is building on lessons learned during the pandemic to transform the food system so that it is more competitive, balanced, and equitable for everyone working in food and agriculture.
Address supply chain disruptions for families and farmers. As part of a whole-of-government response to tackle new and emerging near-term supply chain disruptions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and historic economic recovery, President Biden established a Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force in June, bringing together industry, labor, and federal partners to alleviate bottlenecks and higher input costs for farmers, address rising prices at the grocery store, and support agricultural exporters. For example, USDA is leveraging $100 million in American Rescue Plan funds to offer a Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program, making available nearly $1 billion in loan guarantees to back private investment in processing and food supply infrastructure that will strengthen the food supply chain for the American people and create jobs in rural communities.
Advance equity in agriculture. In February 2022, USDA held the first meeting of the new USDA Equity Commission, which is supported by the American Rescue Plan and will evaluate USDA programs and services and recommend how USDA can reduce barriers for accessing them. Additionally, USDA has begun to deploy American Rescue Plan funds to support technical assistance and access to land, credit, and markets for historically underserved producers. USDA provided $50 million in Natural Resource Conservation Funds to organizations working with underserved communities and another approximately $75 million in American Rescue Plan funding to 20 organizations to provide technical assistance to connect underserved producers with USDA programs and services. Additionally, in July 2021, USDA rolled out the Heirs’ Property Relending Program, which provides funds to assist heirs in resolving ownership and succession issues on farmland with multiple owners.
Support a fairer, more competitive, and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain. In, January 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, outlining how USDA will invest an additional $900 million in American Rescue Plan funding. As part of this effort, USDA recently announced $150 million in grants for new and expanded processing through a new Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, $25 million to provide technical assistance support, and $40 million to support workforce development and training, including at community and junior colleges and Minority-Serving Institutions. As part of the Action Plan, USDA will invest $500 million in additional grants and lending to further strengthen financing for independent processing, along with $85 million in additional funding for workforce development and to promote innovation in this sector. This work builds on the $100 million already available to reduce overtime and holiday inspection fees to help small processing plants keep up with unprecedented demand. This also builds on USDA’s December 2021 announcement of $32 million in pandemic assistance funds to more than 160 meat and poultry processors, helping them get federally inspected so they can reach more customers.
Issue stronger rules under the Packers & Stockyards Act and new rulemaking on “Product of USA” labeling to protect farmers, ranchers, and consumers, as well as promote an all-of-government approach to strengthening competition. USDA has begun work on three proposed rules to provide greater clarity and strengthen enforcement under the Packers & Stockyards Act, and USDA will also pursue rulemaking to ensure the “Product of USA” label for meat products meets consumer expectations and allows for fair and competitive markets. In February 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and USDA launched a new joint initiative to better coordinate their enforcement efforts, including a new portal—FarmerFairness.gov—for reporting concerns about potential violations of competition laws. And today, the President is announcing an historic agreement between the DOJ and the Federal Maritime Commission to put more cops on the beat to ensure large, foreign ocean carriers cannot take advantage of U.S. farmers, businesses, and consumers.
Ensuring nutritious food gets to those who need it while opening up new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. In December 2021, USDA committed $1.5 billion in funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation to help schools make direct food purchases and access food purchased by USDA and will also invest in cooperative agreements with state and Tribal governments to purchase foods from local underserved producers. All purchases will support domestic agriculture. Additionally, in December 2021, USDA announced a new Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program that will award up to $400 million for emergency food assistance purchases of domestic local foods. Utilizing American Rescue Plan funds, these purchases will expand local and regional markets and place an emphasis on purchasing from historically underserved farmers and ranchers.
Ensuring all of agriculture benefits from financial assistance to address the impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic affected all of agriculture, but many farmers did not benefit from previous rounds of pandemic-related assistance under the previous administration’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The Biden-Harris Administration worked to fill those gaps to help get financial assistance to a broader set of producers, including to underserved communities, small and medium sized producers, and farmers and producers of less traditional crops. USDA announced ‘Pandemic Assistance for Producers’ to distribute resources more equitably and committed to directing at least $6 billion to the agricultural producers and sectors that needed assistance the most. This includes re-opening signup for CFAP2, $700 million in grants to provide relief to farm and food workers affected by COVID-19; $700 million to provide relief for small producers, processors, farmers markets and seafood vessels affected by COVID-19; and $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to historically underserved farmers and ranchers. As a result, there was a fourfold increase in participation among historically underserved producers in CFAP2 since April 2021.
Invest in farmworker training. DOL’s National Farmworker Jobs Program provides grants to community-based organizations and public agencies to enable farmworkers to receive skills training, career services and other critical services like housing assistance to help them obtain, retain and advance in the agricultural sector. DOL awarded $87 million in career services and training grants across the United States and Puerto Rico and $6.2 million in housing grants.
Pay farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to be part of the solution to climate change. In February 2022, USDA launched a $1 billion investment in partnerships to support America’s climate-smart farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. The new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity will finance pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart production practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits. USDA has also invested $50 million in new 118 partnerships to expand access to conservation assistance for climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The new Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements will fund two-year projects to expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are new to farming, low-income, historically underserved, or military veterans.
Reward farmers, ranchers, and forest owners for their voluntary conservation efforts. Recognizing the critical role that America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest-owners play in the stewardship of the nation’s lands, waters, and wildlife, the Administration is, as part of the President’s America the Beautiful Initiative, expanding support for voluntary conservation efforts on private lands. USDA, for example, has made changes to its Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to remove barriers to access and provide partners increased flexibility to participate in and benefit from the program. USDA enrolled 5.3 million new acres in the Conservation Reserve Program by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program.
Support renewable fuel producers and infrastructure. USDA has dedicated $700 million to provide economic relief to biofuel producers and restore renewable fuel markets affected by the pandemic, and committed to $100 million to increase the sales and use of higher blends of bioethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products.
Facilitate U.S. agricultural products in reaching export markets. USDA is working with the Port of Oakland to set up a new “pop-up” site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers. The new site, supported by Commodity Credit Corporation funds, will provide access to equipment and provide trucks faster turns without having to wait for in-terminal space. The Port of Oakland is a potential model for other ports experiencing similar issues. The Administration also continues to call on ocean carriers to mitigate disruptions to agricultural shippers by restoring full and fair service to the Port of Oakland. In addition, over $600 million in American Rescue Plan resources have already been announced to strengthen the port workforce and improve facility efficiency at our most critical ports, from California and Florida to Massachusetts and Louisiana.
Ensure trade rules work for American farmers and ranchers. The United States prevailed in the first dispute settlement panel proceeding under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), bringing the U.S. dairy sector one step closer to realizing the full benefits of the USMCA. The Administration scored another trade policy win when Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Hanoi in August 2021, securing a commitment from the Vietnamese government to reduce tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. This will give U.S. corn, wheat, and pork producers greater access to our seventh-largest agricultural export market, in line with competitors from countries that have free trade agreements with Vietnam. These actions contributed to a record-shattering $177 billion in exports of U.S. farm and food products in 2021.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine likely to take up a large measure of President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union speech, he is unlikely to have enough time or space to detail his accomplishments and his agenda going forward. Here are more details from the White House about what the President will say about clean energy manufacturing, strengthening the US energy sector, and cutting consumer costs and creating good-paying jobs:
President Biden campaigned on a bold vision of tackling the climate crisis with the urgency that science demands by seizing the opportunity to build a strong domestic energy sector that can manufacture and deploy clean energy for the benefit of all Americans—with lower costs for families, good-paying jobs for workers, and healthier air and cleaner water for communities.
Since Day One, he has delivered. After rejoining the Paris Agreement, restoring scientific integrity, and reinvigorating U.S. leadership on the world stage, President Biden mobilized every federal agency to achieve groundbreaking goals: reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030, reaching 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, and delivering 40% of the benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities. The President formed the first-ever National Climate Task Force, bringing together Cabinet leaders to drive decisive action toward those goals.
Alongside historic executive actions, President Biden also made climate action and environmental justice a centerpiece of his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—which includes the largest federal investments ever in upgrading the power grid, improving public transit and investing in zero-emission transit and school buses, installing a nationwide EV charging network, cleaning up legacy pollution, delivering clean water and replacing lead pipes, demonstrating innovative climate technologies, and increasing climate resilience to safeguard against extreme weather, which last year caused more than $145 billion in damages from the biggest 20 disasters alone.
CALLING ON CONGRESS TO DELIVER
President Biden knows that we need to move even faster to combat climate change—and that to meet the moment and fully seize the economic opportunity in front of us, Congress must act. In his first State of the Union address, the President will call on Congress to deliver on a legislative agenda for clean energy and climate action that has overwhelming support from the American people—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
Specifically, the President will lift up the benefits we can secure for American consumers, companies, and communities by enacting critical investments and tax credits for domestic clean energy manufacturing and deployment. He will also highlight how the investments and tax credits would cut energy costs for American families an average of $500 per year.
As part of the President’s unwavering support for climate solutions, these investments will reduce emissions, lower costs for families, create good-paying jobs for workers, and advance environmental justice.
BOLD ACTIONS TWO MONTHS INTO 2022
As the President works with Congress to deliver on this legislative agenda, he will continue taking decisive and bold action—building on the surge of momentum he has spearheaded to tackle the climate crisis. During just the first two months of 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration:
Announced actions from seven agencies on clean energy deployment, including new investments and partnerships to advance offshore wind; steps to fast-track solar, onshore wind, and geothermal energy on public lands; and the “Building a Better Grid” initiative to build out long-distance transmission lines and unlock clean energy resources.
Launched the Building Performance Standards Coalition with more than 30 state and local governments to reduce emissions, create good-paying union jobs in energy efficiency and electrification, and lower energy bills, with federal assistance for policy design and implementation.
Built on the Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan by announcing an initial $1.15 billion to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells, $725 million to reclaim abandoned mine lands, a new interagency initiative on measurement and monitoring of methane and other greenhouse emissions, enforcement efforts to minimize methane emissions from pipeline systems, and more.
Advanced America’s electric vehicle future, standing with CEOs to announce new manufacturing facilities for electric vehicles, batteries, and chargers and issuing state allocations and guidance for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program.
Convened a roundtable of electric utility CEOs to discuss their support for Congressional investments in clean energy to reduce costs for families, make the power grid more resilient and reliable, and advance American innovation, job creation, and economic competitiveness.
Took major steps to reduce industrial emissions and advance clean manufacturing, including clean hydrogen investments, the first Buy Clean Task Force for federal purchasing of low-carbon construction materials, progress on carbon-based trade policies to reward clean steel and aluminum manufacturing, guidance on responsible deployment of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration technologies, and new initiatives to ensure that industrial innovation benefits American workers and communities.
Released the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool for public feedback, to help agencies deliver benefits to disadvantaged communities and fulfill the President’s Justice40 commitment.
Announced major investments to secure a Made in America supply chain for critical minerals and sustainably source key inputs (including lithium and rare earth elements) for clean energy technologies like batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels. This includes taking action to update outdated mining regulations and laws to ensure that extraction and production adheres to strong environmental, labor, and community and Tribal engagement standards.
ReleasedAmerica’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition,a first-of-its-kind energy sector industrial base strategy, which includes the creation of a new Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains Office at the Department of Energy to strengthen, secure, and modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure and support clean energy manufacturing jobs.
Held a record-shattering offshore wind auction in the New York Bight, with winning bids for six lease areas totaling $4.37 billion, signaling the arrival of a strong American industry that’s here to stay. Innovative lease stipulations will promote projects built with union labor and Made in America materials, and these projects will generate clean electricity to power millions of homes.
HISTORIC YEAR OF PROGRESS This wave of climate action to kick off 2022 builds on historic progress President Biden achieved during his first year in office, when he:
For the first time, set an official target to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050 and cut greenhouse gas pollution by more than half in 2030.
Fast-tracked clean energy, setting national records with hundreds of new solar, wind, and storage projects—which are creating good-paying, union jobs and lowering energy costs.
Jumpstarted an electric transportation future that’s Made in America, uniting automakers and autoworkers to get to 50% electric vehicle sales share in 2030 and spurring investments of over $100 billion in the American EV and battery manufacturing industry.
New York Bight lease sale has potential to power nearly two million homes
Republicans like Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is seeking to take over as Governor of New York, are still wedded to fossil fuels and determined if they regain control, to reverse course on efforts to transition to a clean renewable energy economy, society, and environment and stem the tide of climate change. This was clear when Zeldin chided President Joe Biden at a pro-Ukraine rally in Long Island for canceling the Keystone Pipeline, which he somehow suggested would have countered impact of sanctions against Nordstrom 2.
But even as Biden leads a global alliance to counter Putin’s criminal aggression against Ukraine, and makes a historic nomination of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, makes historic investments in infrastructure to clean up the environment, develop the economy, promote competition and address supply chain issues, his administration is forging ahead with historic climate actions. In the latest, the administration reports setting records for offshore energy development with $4.37 billion in winning bids for wind sale.
Of course, the correct answer to reducing dependency on fossil fuel is what the Biden-Harris Administration is doing: transitioning to clean, renewable energy that can be generated in localities, so less vulnerable to geopolitics and cyberattacks.
This is from the Department of the Interior:
WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior announced the results of the nation’s highest-grossing competitive offshore energy lease sale in history, including oil and gas lease sales, with the New York Bight offshore wind sale. These results are a major milestone towards achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. Today’s lease sale offered six lease areas totaling over 488,000 acres in the New York Bight for potential wind energy development and drew competitive winning bids from six companies totaling approximately $4.37 billion.
A recent report indicates that the United States’ growing offshore wind energy industry presents a $109 billion revenue opportunity to businesses in the supply chain over the next decade.
“This week’s offshore wind sale makes one thing clear: the enthusiasm for the clean energy economy is undeniable and it’s here to stay,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The investments we are seeing today will play an important role in delivering on the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis and create thousands of good-paying, union jobs across the nation.”
The provisional winners of today’s lease sale are:
OW Ocean Winds East, LLC
Attentive Energy LLC
Bight Wind Holdings, LLC
Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight, LLC
Invenergy Wind Offshore LLC
Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind LLC
A map of the lease areas auctioned today can be found on the BOEM website.
Before the leases are finalized, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will conduct an anti-competitiveness review of the auction, and the provisional winners will be required to pay the winning bids and provide financial assurance to Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
The New York Bight offshore wind leases include innovative stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain for offshore wind energy and enhance engagement with Tribes, the commercial fishing industry, other ocean users and underserved communities. The stipulations will also advance flexibility in transmission planning. Stipulations include incentives to source major components domestically – such as blades, turbines and foundations – and to enter into project labor agreements to ensure projects are union-built.
“We must have a robust and resilient domestic offshore wind supply chain to deliver good-paying, union jobs and the economic benefits to residents in the region,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “Because we understand the value of meaningful community engagement, we are requiring lessees to report their engagement activities to BOEM, specifically noting how they’re incorporating any feedback into their future plans.”
On Jan. 12, Secretary Haaland, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a shared vision for developing a robust offshore wind energy domestic supply chain that will deliver benefits to residents of New York and New Jersey and the surrounding region, including underserved communities. This collaboration will serve as a model for future engagement and establish the U.S. as a major player in the global offshore wind energy market.
To advance the Interior Department’s environmental justice and economic empowerment goals, lessees will be required to identify and make efforts to engage with Tribes, underserved communities, and other ocean users who could be affected by offshore wind energy development. The Department will hold companies accountable for improving their engagement, communication and transparency with these communities.
These additions are intended to promote offshore wind energy development in a way that coexists with other ocean uses and protects the ocean environment, while also securing our nation’s energy future for generations to come. BOEM initially asked for information and nominations of commercial interest on 1.7 million acres in the New York Bight. Based on BOEM’s review of scientific data and extensive input from the commercial fishing industry, Tribes, partnering agencies, key stakeholders, and the public, BOEM reduced the acreage offered for lease by 72% to avoid conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts. BOEM will continue to engage with the public, ocean users, and key stakeholders as the process unfolds.
The Administration has already made significant progress toward creating a pipeline of projects. It has approved and celebrated the groundbreaking of the nation’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects in federal waters: the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project and the 130-megawatt South Fork Wind project. BOEM expects to review at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial offshore wind energy facilities by 2025, which would represent more than 22 GW of clean energy for the nation.
In addition, this past fall Secretary Haaland announced a new leasing path forward, which identified up to seven potential lease sales by 2025, including the New York Bight and offshore the Carolinas and California later this year, to be followed by lease sales for the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore Oregon.
More information about today’s auction can be found on BOEM’s website.