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Coconino Voices: H.R. 4447 and its potential impact on northern Arizona
COCONINO VOICES

Coconino Voices: H.R. 4447 and its potential impact on northern Arizona

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In the House of Representatives, I am humbled to represent Arizona’s First Congressional District. From larger, deadlier forest fires to crippling droughts, First District families have seen the real-life implications of our changing planet unfold over the last few decades. Climate change threatens the lives and livelihoods of Arizona families every day and addressing this crisis has been on Congress’ backburner for far too long.

That’s why we passed H.R. 4447 — the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act — a legislative package I sponsored that will update our energy infrastructure, create new jobs, and tackle climate change.

The last major federal effort to address our changing energy landscape occurred in 2007. Since then, we’ve seen both the tragedies of climate change and the wonders of new energy innovation. It is well past time to take aggressive action to combat the climate crisis and bring our American energy economy into the 21st century.

The Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act will do just that. My legislation will modernize our clean energy infrastructure, create new, good-paying jobs in rural Arizona, and take action to address climate change.

My bill invests in electric grid modernization and security, increases availability and affordability of renewable energy technology, and makes targeted investments in the American energy workforce as our nation transition towards renewable energy by enhancing the capabilities of rural energy.

Included within this package are two individual bills I introduced this year: the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy, or “EASE” Act, and the Tribal Power Act.

The EASE Act, which serves as the lead bill for the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, invests in rural electric cooperatives — which power more than 19 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms, and serve 42 million people across America — by expanding federal grant funding for energy storage projects.

The Tribal Power Act ensures that tribal governments can access the federal resources they need to advance energy development. While nationwide electrification began in the 1930s, many Native American communities still lack basic access to electricity — as many as 15,000 families on the Navajo Nation alone.

The Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act does more than just update our nation’s energy infrastructure; tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs that support a family will be created through the new programs, initiatives, and federal projects created within this bill.

Far too many Arizonans are unemployed this year, due to no fault of their own. That is why my bill is so important. It addresses the climate crisis holistically by revitalizing our energy economy and creating much-needed job growth across our nation in the process. It’s a win-win-win.

The Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act combines the work of over 40 pieces of energy and environment legislation from the House of Representatives — many of which are bipartisan — that hail from members across our body and our nation, whose districts have felt the effects of climate change in every disparate way. This collaborative effort will work because it includes the voices of so many Americans.

I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to identify commonsense policy solutions to these critical issues and help hardworking families transition as our energy economy evolves.

Tom O’Halleran is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. A Democrat, he lives in the Village of Oak Creek.

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