Rep. Leger Fernández Introduces the Just Transition for Energy Communities Act
WASHINGTON – Reps. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced the Just Transition for Energy Communities Act. The bill would provide resources to help state and Tribal governments that are reliant on fossil fuel development, production, and utilization to diversify and grow their economies.
“Our move towards clean energy is a critical step in saving our planet but we can’t leave communities behind in the process. I met with workers, union leaders, and experts who made it clear that economic diversification is imperative for states, like New Mexico, that rely on oil and gas to fund their education programs,” said Leger Fernández. “That is why I introduced the Just Transition for Energy Communities Act - to provide states and Tribes with necessary funds to ensure a fair and successful energy transition. These communities powered our country for decades and grew our economy. Now, we must now do the same for them.”
“Our nation’s important transition to clean energy will create significant economic growth,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “For that transition to be just, we must not leave out or leave behind states and Tribes with longstanding economic ties to fossil fuel industries. I am pleased to join Congresswoman Leger Fernández in introducing the Just Transition for Energy Communities Act to provide economic development grants to states and Tribes that have historically been dependent on fossil fuels. These grants will help empower communities to navigate the clean energy transformation of our economy and participate in the jobs it will bring.”
Leading up to introduction, Leger Fernández met with New Mexico leaders and experts to discuss the energy transition and seek feedback on the bill. She also led on two letters, one to Speaker Pelosi calling on funding and support for energy transition communities in the infrastructure and reconciliation bills, and another to President Biden, highlighting New Mexico’s fossil fuel reliance and urging the Administration to prioritize revenue replacement for states.
“This legislation is an important step toward protecting state revenues as we continue the critical work of diversifying and expanding New Mexico’s economy. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Leger Fernández and all of New Mexico’s delegation to get revenue replacement legislation passed at the federal level,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Approximately 30% of the state revenue in New Mexico comes directly from oil and gas revenue and 90% of education funding is derived from revenue related to fossil fuels.
The Just Transition for Energy Communities Act:
- Establishes a Dept. of Treasury program to provide payments to states and Tribes to support these communities’ transition and economic diversification efforts.
- Gives states and Tribes broad flexibility to use funding to develop and implement economic diversification plans that work for their respective communities.
- Prohibits the funding from being used to further fossil fuel development.
- Authorizes $5 billion over 10 years, with a $500 million set-aside for tribes.
To be eligible, states and Tribes would need to have recently received federal mineral revenue, which is almost always from fossil fuel production.
The bill is endorsed by the Environmental Defense Fund, NM Voices for Children, The Wilderness Society, and Appalachian Voices.
"There is an urgent need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuel production to protect our communities and save our planet, and, at the same time, we need to do more to support a just economic transition for energy communities. The Just Transition for Energy Communities Act is an important step forward, and The Wilderness Society appreciates Representative Leger Fernandez's leadership. We look forward to continuing to work with her on this important legislation and on the urgent actions needed to directly tackle the climate crisis," said Michael Casaus, New Mexico State Director for The Wilderness Society.
“This bill is about ensuring a better future for kids. For years, New Mexico has relied on oil and gas to fund our children’s education programming. But as we battle climate change and protect our land and public health, it’s vital that states like New Mexico are able to diversify their economies. We are thankful for Congresswoman Leger Fernández’s leadership to create opportunities for New Mexico's children and help ensure their future success,” said James Jimenez, Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children.
“Today, Representative Teresa Leger Fernández introduced legislation to provide support for communities on the front lines of the energy transition. As we take necessary steps to combat climate change, it is imperative that we ensure all communities, including those historically dependent on fossil fuel production, have an opportunity to thrive in the clean economy. This bill will enable state, local, and tribal governments to maintain strong public services and diversify their economies. EDF Action applauds Rep. Leger Fernández for her work to help communities navigate the energy transition,” said Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President of Political Affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund.