Washington, DC – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today concluded a comment period on how to best distribute $27 billion in funding for a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA gave the EPA just 180 days to begin distributing grant funding for green energy projects, an accelerated timeline that could make it challenging to ensure the funding is distributed to the communities it is supposed to reach, warned Dream.Org in a comment shared with the EPA by over 2,500 supporters.
Instead, Dream.Org is calling for at least $20 billion of the GGRF to be used to create a National Green Bank which will allow for more time to distribute the funds while also significantly amplifying the impact by leveraging private sector investment as well. Green Banks already exist at the state level, and in 2020, successfully used $442 million of public capital to generate $1.69 billion in private funding towards clean energy adoption.
“Historically, large federal investments have excluded impacted communities from the policy implementation process, and given such a short timeline to avert further climate consequences, we must be strategic with the resources provided and rank environmental injustices as a top priority when championing a just transition,” warned Dream.Org Vice President of Sustainability and Green For All National Director Jessie Buendia. “A national Green Bank would not only buy us more time, it would buy us more impact for every dollar spent by allowing us to leverage private investments as well. This is an effective model that has successfully launched numerous green projects that would otherwise have struggled to get off the ground. With this massive investment in the green economy, we now have a historic opportunity to not only slow climate change but also invest in the communities that are most impacted by it and thoughtfully partner with a network of regional and local community development and financial institutions. With a national green bank, we can make sure minority-owned businesses and minority communities finally feel the benefits of the green economy across the country.”
To help more minority-owned businesses compete for this historic amount of funding, Dream.Org launched a coalition called the Green Business Council, which is made up of 7 Black and Brown founders and CEOs of clean energy and green sector businesses. With decades of experience in cleantech innovation, this business council will provide invaluable guidance and expertise to help vulnerable communities apply for and gain green climate funding to deploy clean energy, energy efficiency, clean transit, and workforce development. Members of the Green Business Council issued the following statements:
“As the CEO and Founder of Optimal Technology Corporation, I’ve been deeply committed to expanding access to solar energy, energy savings, and developing economic opportunities, especially for the underestimated and overlooked. With over 25 years of experience in clean energy technology, I’ve developed innovative ways to deploy solar 21 times faster, on 70% less land, and up to 20% cheaper to use,” said Reginald Parker. “Right now, we’re at a critical point in history, and if we’re going to reach our 2030 goals, we need to accelerate massive changes in every major system across the US. The reality is, the $27 billion GGRF investment is minuscule in comparison to the crisis we’re trying to mitigate, but we have an opportunity to unlock additional capital from sources that would otherwise remain untapped. By using $20 billion from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, we can create a National Green Bank to fill in the financial gap, remove risk and accelerate the rapid deployment of clean energy technology everywhere, especially to those who have historically been hardest hit by the impact of climate change.”
“Environmental injustice has to be at the forefront of the climate conversation because current climate impacts are disproportionate to the most vulnerable people in society. The historic and ongoing cost of not proactively addressing our climate is jaw-dropping and eye-opening,” said Robert Kabera. “This is why I’ve dedicated my career to getting people to move from a reactive to a proactive approach, protecting and saving energy, jobs, businesses, communities, and people who are most affected by climate disasters. I’m urging the EPA to use GGRF capital to fund a National Green Bank because we need an astronomical amount of resources to extend opportunities into traditionally underserved markets along with an innovative approach to fill in the financial gap that prevents us from accelerating clean energy adoption in the communities that need it the most.”
“Communities that are at the forefront of the climate crisis often have the least amount of resources to mitigate the consequences and adopt clean energy solutions. To build a regenerative clean energy economy that can meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must effectively reach communities that need it the most,” said Anthony Kinslow II, PhD. “As a leader in equitable energy-efficient deployment and a Stanford University lecturer, it is clear we need more investment into solutions that help us overcome cultural and socio-economic barriers that prevent most Americans from embracing the transition. By using the GGRF resources to build a National Green Bank we can build a sustainable financial tool that fills the critical gaps in accessing capital, ensuring investments are reaching frontline communities. This method can provide community anchors with the capital they would need to accelerate the clean energy transition forward.”
“As a trained rocket scientist and President and CEO of SynEnergy, I know we have a limited window to reach our 2030 goals because I’ve been on the frontier of making large infrastructure buildings more energy-efficient. A National Green Bank will unlock additional capital and drive those resources towards energy-efficient infrastructure projects for business leaders and multifamily developments working in the communities that need our help the most,” said Mina McCullom. “In the past decade, green banks have demonstrated their success in filling specific financial gaps in the market to drive demand toward a green transition, and the bridge they build creates energy-efficient jobs while driving access toward underserved markets. My main priority has always been to make energy-efficient opportunities more accessible and a National Green Bank will help accelerate my goal to bring more engineering entrepreneurship and job opportunities to communities of color.”