May 27, 2021

Warren, Levin Introduce The Buy Green Act of 2021

Bill would use U.S. federal procurement to help fight the climate crisis, spark green innovation, and boost demand for American-made clean energy products

Bill Text (PDF) | Bill Summary (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congressman Andy Levin (D-Mich.) officially introduced the Buy Green Act of 2021. First announced in March 2021, the bill would establish $1.5 trillion in federal procurement commitments over the next ten years to purchase American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy products for federal, state, and local use. The bill also establishes a grant program for U.S. companies to invest in clean energy manufacturing.

Currently, the federal government spends $500 billion annually to purchase goods and services -- many of which have significant environmental impacts, including transportation equipment, building infrastructure, and electronics. Given that the climate crisis is a major threat to our country's health, economy, and security, there is a greater need for socially responsible and sustainable procurement. This investment can significantly affect the availability of clean energy products and services to help grow our green economy and reduce our environmental impact.

"My bill with Congressman Andy Levin would convert our nation's biggest spender, the U.S. government, to American-made clean energy products, kick-start demand for American-made renewables across our economy and abroad, and create good American jobs," said Senator Warren. "The Biden administration should take a close look at our Buy Green Act, BUILD GREEN Act, and National Institutes of Clean Energy Act, as part of their infrastructure package."

"With the Buy Green Act, we have the opportunity to combat wealth inequality, address environmental racism and revitalize industrial Midwestern communities that have been left behind by trade policy that put profits before people," said Rep. Levin. "This legislation is the bold response we need to jumpstart production of sustainable goods made right here in America by union workers. I look forward to working closely with the Biden administration to wield federal purchasing power to transition us to a clean and sustainable energy future within the decade."

The Buy Green Act would do the following:

  • Establish a "Clean Energy Fund" at the DOE for green procurement by authorizing the DOE to transfer funding to federal agencies for clean energy purchases; and creating a competitive federal grant program for state, local, and tribal governments to make clean energy purchases.
  • Reduce carbon pollution by providing enough funds to electrify the entire federal fleet, including postal service vehicles; provides enough funds to states and municipalities to electrify all public transit and school buses; and providing funds to design, build, and retrofit buildings, including federal, childcare, educational, and manufacturing facilities, to be more energy efficient.
  • Boost the green economy and clean energy sector by establishing a grant program for U.S. companies to invest in clean energy manufacturing by retrofitting or building facilities that produce covered products,and bolstering our ability to create clean energy products that can then be exported globally to make the U.S. a leader in green innovation.
  • Support workers and frontline communities by including strong labor provisions to ensure jobs provide strong wages, benefits, and worker protections; and directing 40% of state, local, and tribal grant funding to purchases that benefit frontline, disadvantaged, and vulnerable communities that have been environmentally neglected.
  • Protect taxpayer funds from fraud, waste, and abuse by forming a Green Procurement Oversight Advisory Board that will ensure the use of funds is compliant with clean energy and labor provisions; and directing the U.S. Comptroller General to conduct oversight of the use of funds and to publicly report on program efficacy each year.

Original cosponsors include Senator Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

The bill has been endorsed by the Sunrise Movement, Working Families Party, MoveOn, GreenLatinos, Data for Progress, Sierra Club, Center for Progressive Reform, League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Justice Democrats, New Consensus, Public Citizen, Indivisible, Climate Hawks Vote, People's Action, and Zero Hour. 

A recent poll shows that 59% of voters support the Buy Green Act. This strong bipartisan support suggests that our country is ready for us to make big investments to save our planet and build back greener.

"The only way our generation can have a livable future is if the United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, contributes its fair share to combat the climate crisis," said Lauren Maunus, Advocacy Director of Sunrise Movement. "That's why Sunrise wholeheartedly endorses Senator Warren's Buy Green Act - so this country can begin to deliver on that commitment and use our tremendous wealth to invest in clean, renewable, and emission-free energy products, which will not only be an investment in our futures, but serve as a step towards transforming our economy and society to the scale the climate crisis demands."

"As the single largest consumer in the world, the federal government has the opportunity to provide an enormous boost to the green economy and frontline communities by purchasing clean, sustainable products. Senator Warren's Buy Green Act and National Institute of Clean Energy Act will take advantage of the federal government's enormous purchasing power to significantly reduce emissions, create new jobs, and make sure communities across the country experience the benefits of a green economy. This urgently needed legislation will not only help stop climate change, it's also very popular with voters. Data for Progress polling finds that a strong majority of voters - including a majority of Independents and more than one-third of Republicans - support these critical investments." -- Marcela Mulholland, Political Director, Data for Progress

"Both the Buy Green Act and National Institutes of Clean Energy (NICE) Act lay out key building blocks for creating a clean energy economy that center the needs of frontline and communities of color. By prioritizing funding for clean energy products and services in disproportionately affected communities, the Buy Green Act takes an important, necessary step toward achieving energy equity. Similarly, by supporting research and development initiatives aimed at mitigating environmental harms to frontline communities, the investments proposed in the NICE Act offer the potential to enable clean energy innovation and build climate resilience. Latino/a/x and other communities harmed by fossil fuels and the related detrimental health and economic impacts stand to benefit greatly from these innovative pieces of legislation." -- Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, GreenLatinos 

"The Buy Green Act has all the hallmarks of Senator Warren's approach to policy: transformative objectives, achieved through using all of the powers of the government. WFP is proud to endorse the Buy Green Act as a critical piece of how our government can deliver jobs and care for all of our people." -- Maurice Mitchell, National Director, Working Families Party