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As members of the It Takes Roots Alliance, a multiracial, multicultural, multigenerational alliance comprised of the Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Right To The City Alliance, we appreciate the beginning steps announced by the Biden Administration today as he unveiled details of an infrastructure package to help the country recover- and we implore him to go further, faster.
Our networks represent over 200 organizations and affiliates in over 50 states, provinces, territories and Indigenous lands; led by women, gender non-conforming people, people of color, and Black and Indigenous Peoples. We intimately understand the impacts of the interlocking white supremacist economic, democratic and climate crises we are facing today and it calls for bold action. Now is the time to chart a historic course forward that will ensure good jobs, care for our children, a future free from pollution, greenhouse gases and environmental devastation, and investment in historically disenfranchised communities who have long been ravaged by economic injustice, inequitable impediments to Tribal sovereignty, racism and white supremacist violence.
Any recovery package must center and support those communities most devastated by the economic, climate and COVID crises. The current proposed investment in affordable housing will not be enough to address the lack of housing options for low-income and tribal communities and the current eviction crisis. We encourage a doubling of investment in order to increase the affordable housing stock available while simultaneously ensuring that undocumented peoples, large families, formerly incarcerated individuals, low-income communities of color, tribes, rural communities, disabled peoples, and LGBTQ individuals have fair and greater access. We must also uplift a care economy by investing in public and tribal institutions and care infrastructure for children, people with disabilities, and the elderly, settings where predominantly women of color and underpaid caregivers and essential workers are employed. Investments must not only go to expanding public transportation but to local renewable, community and tribal controlled energy systems, safe and clean water and wastewater sanitation systems and more in frontline and tribal communities at a rate and scale never before seen.
We applaud President Biden’s announcement to eliminate billions in fossil fuel subsidies and although not mentioned today, we reiterate that any support for nuclear, natural gas, and fracking as climate friendly is unacceptable. These measures would only continue to harm frontline communities while doing nothing to address emissions reduction or mitigating the effects of climate change at the levels and action needed. They would tie us to long term financial commitments to dirty energy infrastructure and unacceptable “clean” energy standards that we can’t allow. We call for binding climate targets to ensure 100% clean energy generated by 2035. Biden’s plan, however, invests in research and development in technologies that may cause harm to frontline communities and the planet. Investments must not expand extraction, processing or use of fossil fuels or uranium at any level of the supply chain; hydropower that displaces communities; biofuels and bioproducts; or the use of carbon markets, emission offsets or carbon capture and other unproven geoengineering technologies.
The time to be bold and courageous is now. A truly comprehensive recovery package is what’s in order, one that addresses physical infrastructure alongside human infrastructure through the expansion of social programs to redress historic inequality, and shifting the economy away from dirty fossil fuels without the use of market based false solutions. The THRIVE Act, which calls for an investment in communities of $10 trillion over 10 years, rather than Biden’s plan of $2 trillion over 8 years, is a good place to start.
Additionally, we call on Biden to increase investments to at least 50%, allocated directly to frontline communities with a commitment to accountability and equity. So-called “benefits” to communities can be easily appropriated by the private sector and polluting industries. The Build Back Better Plan must ensure financing goes directly to communities that need it the most.
Moreover, US economic recovery and investments require Tribes and Indigenous communities to be at the center of an economic recovery, respecting the Nation-to-Nation relationship of Tribal nations with the Federal government. Each federal agency must use administrative authorities to create set-aside funding for Tribes and Indigenous communities based on a formula, and Tribal consensual process, to ensure investments are made available and allocated in an equitable manner.
The next recovery plan must redraw the boundaries of the economy to bring them in line with ecological limits and common-sense science. We strongly encourage the Biden Administration to prioritize those impacted first and worst by these crises in the forthcoming recovery package. This is the promise he was elected on and what we will hold him accountable to.