May 27, 2021

Warren, Levin Introduce The National Institutes of Clean Energy Act of 2021

Bill Text (PDF) | Bill Summary (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congressman Andy Levin (D-Mich.) introduced the National Institutes of Clean Energy Act of 2021, legislation that would invest $400 billion over the next ten years to establish and operate a new system of institutes at the Department of Energy dedicated to research and development (R&D) of advanced clean energy technologies. Modeled after the National Institutes of Health, these Clean Energy Institutes would invest in clean energy science, innovation, and R&D to support projects that help reduce carbon emissions and build climate resilience. 

The United States has the highest GDP in the world, yet it ranks 10th in the world for how much of that capital gets invested in R&D. Because these funds directly contribute to the generation of knowledge and advanced technologies, how much we spend on R&D provides a snapshot of how innovative our economy truly is. Currently, the United States is lagging behind our foreign competitors in this innovation, especially when it comes to public spending for R&D. 

"It's time for Congress to make smart investments in developing new technologies that will mitigate climate change's threat to our nation's health, economy, and security. Our bill invests in our future by building back our economy and tackling the climate crisis, and that's why the Biden administration should take a close look at it, along with the Buy Green Act and the BUILD GREEN Act, as part of their infrastructure package," Senator Warren said

"To establish the United States as a global leader in clean energy, we must invest in clean energy research and development," said Rep. Levin. "The National Institutes of Clean Energy created by the NICE Act will develop the advanced green tech of the future, leading to a restoration of American manufacturing."

A recent poll showed that 60% support the National Institutes of Clean Energy Act. The funding established in the bill would support:

  • Developing advanced energy technologies in hard-to-decarbonize sectors, like aviation and shipping;
  • Focusing on clean energy research areas that are underrepresented in existing federal R&D funding, such as long-duration grid storage;
  • Developing projects on the impacts of energy production in frontline communities, including communities of color and low-income communities, that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental injustices;
  • Supporting R&D projects focused on impacts of clean energy and energy production on job loss, job creation, and workforce development.

Moreover, the National Institutes of Clean Energy Act funding prioritizes R&D of technologies that:

  • Minimize environmental harms and negative public health impacts on frontline and disadvantaged communities and that create high-quality jobs with strong labor standards within these communities;
  • Are conducted at public universities, land grant colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions, including historically Black colleges and universities;
  • Are developed in areas that have seen the worse job losses over the past five years - including rural areas and areas impacted by deindustrialization.

Original cosponsors of the bill include Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Senator Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), and Representative Jared Huffman (D-Calif.)

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

"The National Institute of Clean Energy Act is a visionary proposal to confront the urgency and scale of the climate crisis, which has challenged us to research and think beyond the solutions we currently have," said Lauren Maunus, Advocacy Director of Sunrise Movement. "With this kind of ambitious and forward looking plan, we have the opportunity to save homes like mine in Florida, which have been rapidly sinking for years, advance technology to bring our emissions levels down and develop vital tools to save our Earth from the perils of the climate crisis."

"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