Republicans, Democrats Spar Over $20 Billion ‘National Climate Bank’

By Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.
September 13, 2021 Updated: September 13, 2021

Lawmakers on the House Committee on Energy & Commerce have begun debate over billions in funding “relating to air pollution,” defined to include carbon and carbon dioxide, with the many climate- and environment-related provisions—including new electric vehicle incentives—as well as $20 billion toward a “greenhouse gas reduction fund,” which Republicans called a “national climate bank.”

The air pollution funding falls under the $37 billion Subtitle A, one of just 16 subtitles that the committee will consider. The committee’s debate over the full, $1.2 trillion reconciliation title, itself just part of the larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, is expected to last for days.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) began by introducing the new provisions, which add millions in funding for states adopting vehicle standards as well as funding for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) biofuel grants.

“Other sections will fund grants to reduce diesel emissions and the risks of smoke from wildfires,” said Tonko.

“We know the consequences of climate change and traditional air pollution, for that matter, are significant,” he said. “The costs of our inaction are great and continue to grow with each passing Congress that fails to respond. This subtitle is the foundation of a strong response.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the ranking Republican member of the committee, pushed back, saying that “average Americans know the sound of a wrecking ball,” and emphasized that no one had seen the amended language until days earlier.

McMorris Rodgers said the bill would ultimately leave the EPA managing $85 billion—“That’s $85 billion of taxpayer dollars for unelected bureaucrats”—and included potentially redundant funding for programs already addressed by Congress.

“Why are Democrats taking $20 billion from the American people to establish an unaccountable, private national climate bank?” she asked.

“This obscure program appears to be for pet projects and kickbacks, to fund a political agenda at the expense of clean fossil energy, which Congress has worked hard to promote.”

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) later introduced an amendment to the subtitle striking section 30103, eliminating what Republicans called a “national climate bank.”

“First, we must recognize this program for what it is,” he said. “The EPA will distribute the funding to special interests” with no accountability to taxpayers and Congress.

Armstrong argued the program would enable private investors and states to “de-risk their own investments” in green technology while leaving taxpayers on the hook.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) rose in opposition to Armstrong’s amendment.

“This program combines funding in two ways,” she said. “First, it invests in emission reduction projects by leveraging financing from the private sector. And second, it invests in state and local financing institutions that can tailor their own investments to local needs, preferences, and priorities.”

She said the proposed fund was similar to other successful programs that she didn’t name, adding that the fund would “expand access to financing for low and zero emissions projects, particularly in environmentally [sic] justice communities.”

No other lawmakers rose in support or opposition to the amendment, which was voted down 32–26 along party lines.

Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.