OPINION: ‘Build Back Better Bill’ takes major steps to combat climate change

President Joe Biden signs the bipartisan Build Back Better Bill on the lawn of the White House in Washington on November 15th. “These bills are not about left versus right or modern versus progressive or anything that pitches an American against another. These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency, competitiveness versus complacency. They’re about expanding opportunity, not opportunity denied. They’re about leading the world or continue to let the world pass us,” the President said during a speech in Kearny, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of the White House.

It only sounds expensive if you don’t hold it up to how costly it would be for America to do nothing.

$555 billion. 

That is $555 billion towards a greener future — a future that uses 80% clean energy, stimulates millions of jobs for Americans, and decreases carbon emissions significantly. 

President Joe Biden’s landmark $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Bill promises to do exactly that. The bill hopes to create jobs, support the economy, and most significantly, combat climate change, allocating the largest amount of money ever spent on the environment. 

It might appear to have an expensive price tag attached to it, but it stands to be the most invaluable legislation of Biden’s tenure.

To all Americans, especially those who have faced momentous threats to their livelihoods in the past year due to climate change, this bill will be the ideal remedy to the raging wildfires, poor air quality, and heavy floods that continue to persist.    

The Build Back Better Bill has faced a successful past but will have a controversial future. Despite the arduous eight-hour speech from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy that caused voting delays, the bill passed in the House 220 to 213. The bill currently awaits its vote in the Senate while it faces intense scrutiny from Republicans. The Democratic party is rather notorious for trying to achieve a number of goals and succeeding in reaching so few of them, but the Build Back Better Bill appears to have unanimous support for the party.

Reluctance for the bill mainly stems from its large cost. Although the $1.75 trillion price tag seems like a daunting number for government spending, especially with the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill that recently passed, the Build Back Better Bill would have major implications on the lives of every American. The health and safety of citizens, which are soon to be threatened by climate change, are worth well over the cost of the bill. 

Biden echoes these same sentiments in a recent tweet, noting that we have continued to face challenges in our daily lives due to worsening environmental conditions. 

“When roads are continuously wiped out by flooding, we must build them higher,” Biden said. “When high power lines come down from severe weather, they must be made more resilient.”

To prevent this negative impact of climate change, the first part of the Build Back Better Bill framework ensures that the shift to clean energy will save middle class families money. Not only will this decrease the cost of energy and solar panels, but it will also provide rural communities with loans and grants to take advantage of opportunities in clean energy. Americans want low energy costs that don’t fluctuate with every change in electricity demand. Americans want reliable energy sources that don’t depend on the availability of fossil fuels. This significant stride of investing in clean energy sources — that are accessible to all — delivers on each of these needs. 

In addition to this investment in clean energy, the government will invest in clean energy technology, like electric cars and wind turbine blades. And arguably the best part? These technologies will be manufactured at home in the United States. With this, millions of jobs will flourish and industries like aluminum and steel will boost significantly. According to an article in Time, revitalizing America’s manufacturing sector to its initial thriving state during the late 1900s will provide a major stimulus to the recovering economy. The economic prosperity that the bill will foster makes up for its significant cost. 

For the environment, The Build Back Better Bill will allocate resources for restoring coasts, managing forests, and conserving soil. As mentioned in a report by The New York Times, this framework could impact over 240,000 farms with newfound strategies that support conservation and reduce emissions. This allocation of resources for the environment sets a major precedent: environmental sustainability will be valued in every sector of the economy. 

As resources and money are also invested into repair from natural disasters, these benefits outweigh the large cost of the bill. As climate change has continued to worsen, the severity and frequency of natural disasters, especially wildfires, have increased significantly. According to a report by AccuWeather, the 2020 wildfire repairs are estimated to have cost $130 to $150 billion. Considering this, it is more cost-effective to invest $550 billion into the environment now, rather than spending hundreds of billions of dollars every single year to repair the ramifications of climate change. 

Considering these immense benefits on the lives of many, senators should pass The Build Back Better Bill for the well-being of both the economy and the American people. Rather than focusing on the cost of the bill, senators must look at how these costs will be paid for by an increase in taxes for the wealthy and large corporations. Rather than bolstering their own political agenda, senators must recognize the implications of the bill on the worsening issue of climate change. 

The warming planet will not stop for eight-hour speeches in the House or circular discussions in the Senate. In the end, it will be the American people that reap the consequences.

The Build Back Better Bill is an investment in the future — the future of the planet and American lives. 

Annika Srivastava is an editor for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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