Merkley, Lofgren, Matsui Introduce Legislation to Give Individuals an Opportunity to Invest in Building America’s Clean-Energy Future

Merkley, Lofgren, Matsui Introduce Legislation to Give Individuals an Opportunity to Invest in Building America’s Clean-Energy Future

Modeled after WWII victory bonds, Clean Energy Victory Bonds would spur investment in clean-energy projects, create jobs, & help the U.S. fight the climate crisis

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representatives Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Doris Matsui (CA-06) introduced H.R. 3886, the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2021, bicameral legislation to give individuals the opportunity to buy Clean Energy Victory Bonds and help build America’s clean-energy future. Modeled after the highly-successful victory bonds sold during World Wars I and II, which raised billions of dollars to finance the costs of war, Clean Energy Victory Bonds would help the country create jobs and save taxpayers money while investing in clean-energy infrastructure and fighting the climate crisis.

The bill would direct the U.S. Secretaries of Treasury, Energy, and Defense to develop and issue $50 billion in Clean Energy Victory Bonds that support energy efficiency, solar, wind, geothermal, and electric vehicle efforts. For as little as $25, all Americans would be able to voluntarily purchase these Treasury bonds to invest in clean energy.

The sale of the $50 billion worth of bonds annually could be leveraged to inject $150 billion into clean-energy innovation and create more than 1 million jobs.

“The clean energy economy is the future—and every American, regardless of their wealth, should have a chance to benefit from it,” said Sen. Merkley. “This legislation would help to open that door, while also fueling our transition toward the renewable energy sources that will help us kick our addiction to fossil fuels and create a safer environment for our families. That’s the kind of win-win solution we need to deliver the bold climate action we need to tackle climate chaos and also create jobs in the 21st century economy.”

“In the South Bay and around the country, individuals and families are looking for ways to do their part in building our country’s clean-energy economy and fighting climate change. The Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act provides Americans with an opportunity to invest, within their means, in innovative technologies that will yield profits both for themselves and our society,” said Lofgren, a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. “This is my fifth time reintroducing this bill, and I feel strongly that, as momentum continues to build in California and around the country to be good stewards of our environment, we must employ proven economic growth-based tactics to tackle climate change. We all benefit when we invest in America’s future.”

“Climate change will continue to be the defining fight of our lives, and we are experiencing its consequences. Right now, we have the opportunity to shape our nation’s future for generations to come and make critical investments in innovations that will help us build a green, equitable economy.” said Rep. Matsui. “Sacramentans and Americans across the nation know that we have a responsibility to do what is necessary to secure a future for our families. This legislation gives Americans an opportunity to take action while spurring growth in our clean energy economy, increasing domestic energy security, and creating jobs. I’m pleased to join Congresswoman Lofgren and Senator Merkley to reintroduce this important legislation which provides Americans a roadmap for investing in our collective future.”

Background

The Clean Energy Victory Bonds would raise extra funds for investment in clean-energy and energy-efficiency deployment, including by:

  • Providing additional support to existing federal financing programs available to States for energy efficiency upgrades and clean energy deployment;
  • Providing funding for clean energy investments by all federal agencies;
  • Providing funding for electric grid enhancements and connections that enable clean energy deployment;
  • Providing funding to renovate existing inefficient buildings or building new energy efficient buildings;
  • Providing tax incentives and tax credits for clean energy technologies;
  • Providing funding for new innovation research, including ARPA-E, public competitions similar to those designed by the X Prize Foundation, grants provided through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the Department of Energy, or other mechanisms to fund revolutionary clean energy technology;
  • Providing additional funding for zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing;
  • Providing additional funding to existing federal, State, and local grant programs that finance clean energy projects; and
  • Providing prioritized funding for clean energy projects that are located in and reduce energy rates in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.

The Clean Energy Victory Bonds would:

  • be available to the public in denominations as low as $25;
  • accrue interest based on savings achieved through reduced-energy spending by the federal government and interest collected on loans provided from proceeds of the bonds; and
  • be capped at $50 billion each year.

Click here for full text of the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2021.

Support from Sustainability & Business Groups

The bill is supported by various organizations, including Green America, American Sustainable Business Council, National Wildlife Federation, Self-Help Credit Union & Ventures Fund, New Jersey Sustainable Business Council, Social Venture Circle, Closed Loop Partners, Green Retirement, Inc., Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Trillium Asset Management.

“Americans from all walks of life want the US to adopt renewable energy to create good paying jobs, while addressing the climate crisis,”?said Todd Larsen, Green America’s executive co-director for consumer and corporate engagement. “In World War II, Victory Bonds offered Americans a way to support the war effort. Now, Clean Energy Victory Bonds will offer all Americans a safe investment, open to anyone with $25, to support a rapid adoption of the solar, wind, and battery storage technologies that will create cleaner air for us all now and help protect future generations from climate impacts.”? 

“Green businesses, whose operations support social justice and environmental sustainability, have long advocated for a clean energy economy. The Clean Energy Victory Bond offers a sound, viable way to generate financing, with a focus on equity, to advance clean energy and energy efficiency,” said Fran Teplitz, director, Green America’s Green Business Network.

“Clean Energy Victory Bonds will provide a much-needed economic boost to our businesses and economy,” said David Levine, co-founder and president, American Sustainable Business Council. “Coming out of COVID-19, this bill provides a reliable and highly-accessible financing mechanism that allows the private sector and all Americans to provide the needed dollars for building a more just and sustainable economy.”

“Climate change is bearing down on us with increasing intensity, with particularly severe consequences for wildlife and already vulnerable communities,” said Shannon Heyck-Williams, director of climate and energy policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “This smart proposal from Representatives Lofgren and Matsui and Senator Merkley gives people the opportunity to directly support the climate-safe future we all need. And by dedicating forty percent of proceeds to new clean energy projects in disadvantaged communities, the bill will help communities that are burdened by pollution and high energy bills by expanding access to climate solutions and opportunities.”

“Clean Energy Victory Bonds provide an opportunity for Americans to participate in the financial benefits of their communities’ conversion to clean renewable energy,” said Ron Gonen, CEO, Closed Loop Partners.

“Self-Help welcomes the reintroduction of the Clean Energy Victory Bond bill, adding capital to finance the transition away from fossil fuels. Of particular note, the bill focuses capital to underserved communities where the transition away from fossil fuels can have the greatest impact and the lack of capital access is most acute," stated Melissa Malkin-Weber, sustainability director, Self Help Credit Union & Ventures Fund.

“The Clean Energy Victory Bond bill is an excellent example of common sense and shows what is possible when we work together. The funds raised by the bonds will create competitive-paying jobs in clean energy at a time when good jobs are solely needed. Clean energy is also a good way to protect the health and safety of Americans by reducing local air and water pollution. And consumers who avail of clean energy will not be subject to the volatile price increases in fossil fuels as seen during the February 2021 Texas snowstorm. This bill is a true win-win,” said Timothy R. Yee, president of Green Retirement, Inc.

“Faith- and values-based investors join in welcoming this safe and reliable financing mechanism open to anyone with $25 to invest in building a just and resilient economy," said Christina Herman, Climate & Environmental Program director at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. "We need to ensure an equitable transition to a clean energy economy in the U.S., and Clean Energy Victory Bonds can help supply the capital needed to shift from dirty to clean energy, especially needed in low-income and communities of color."

“Where the benefits and profits of the clean energy industry have historically been claimed overwhelmingly by America's wealthiest, Clean Energy Victory Bonds would help democratize participation in the low-carbon transition, allowing investors large and small to make low-risk investments in a more sustainable future. In alluding to the Victory Bonds of World War II, Clean Energy Victory Bonds will convey both urgency and optimism regarding American participation in the global battle against climate change,” said Cheryl I. Smith, Ph.D., CFA, chief economist and head of Fixed Income Management, Trillium Asset Management.