Exclusive: House Environment Coalition’s Memo Covers Legislative Priorities in Congressional Drafting of American Jobs Plan

The cross-committee SEEC plan backs clean energy standard, uses lens of environmental justice
May 26, 2021 at 5:11 pm UTC

Key Takeaways

  • SEEC’s list of priorities includes a mandate for the electricity sector to utilize 100% clean energy by 2035.

  • The list also calls for a 10-year extension on several clean energy tax credits; in 2020, the SEEC asked for one-year extensions in the context of pandemic-related stimulus and for five-year extensions more broadly.

The House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition is set to unveil its priorities for the 2021 legislative session on Thursday, a list of policy objectives for the chamber’s process of drafting legislation of the American Jobs Plan that mirror the same jobs-focused language that President Joe Biden has used when touting it.

According to a copy shared exclusively with Morning Consult, the plan emphasizes the Biden administration’s push for a clean energy standard -- mandating that the electricity sector utilize 80 percent clean energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035 -- as well as its commitment to direct 40 percent of climate and infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities that have historically borne the brunt of environmental inequities. The memo will be released publicly Thursday morning.

While SEEC executive director Maria Laverdiere said the outline of policy priorities began to take shape before the Biden administration’s release of the American Jobs Plan, it comes amid discussions of what a bipartisan infrastructure bill could look like; Senate Republicans are expected to unveil their $1 trillion counterproposal Thursday. 

SEEC’s priorities -- which are divided by various legislative committees, including Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Agriculture and Natural Resources -- include elements such as a price on carbon emissions and a suite of direct manufacturing incentives for clean energy and climate technologies. The group also lays out its surface transportation priorities, which comes as the Senate discusses the recent bipartisan highway bill that couches potential infrastructure investments in climate action.

When compared to the coalition’s similar policy pushes one year ago, SEEC’s legislative priorities highlight the extent to which the Biden administration has allowed for more ambitious climate and clean energy priorities from lawmakers. For instance, SEEC advocated last year for a one-year extension of several clean energy tax credits in the context of an immediate coronavirus relief bill, and for a five-year extension more broadly; in the 2021 legislative environment, it is now pushing for a 10-year extension (including one for offshore wind).

And indeed, the all-Democratic, 71-member coalition has been in touch with both the White House and chamber leaders in the development of its priorities, which present this moment as an opportunity to invest in the kinds of sustainable energy projects that could lower emissions and mitigate warming going forward. 

But the group also warns against an “anemic effort” that would fail to address the worst impacts of the climate crisis going forward. “We must remind ourselves not only of the incredible opportunity before us to build back better if we are willing to face the climate crisis and address it, but also of what’s at stake if we don’t,” the memo states.  

Lisa Martine Jenkins previously worked at Morning Consult as a senior reporter covering energy and climate change.

We want to hear from you. Reach out to this author or your Morning Consult team with any questions or comments.Contact Us