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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today joined a coalition of 20 state attorneys general in urging Congress to respond to the climate crisis and advance environmental justice by funding critical programs in budget reconciliation legislation. In a letter to Democratic Congressional leaders, the coalition, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, calls on Congress to pass infrastructure legislation and to allocate funding in the upcoming reconciliation bill that addresses the rapid transition to a clean energy economy, climate change, and the environmental injustices faced by low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and indigenous communities. The coalition urges Congress to fund actions that will substantially cut greenhouse gases—thereby preventing more dire climate change harms—and confront longstanding environmental injustice.
“Climate change and water contamination are impacting many Wisconsin communities,” said Attorney General Kaul. “As Congress makes investments for the future, it should support clean energy, protect clean water, and make environmental justice a priority.”
All Americans deserve an equal right to clean air, clean water, and a safe and healthy environment. However, low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and indigenous communities are too often denied these rights, enduring disproportionate burdens of pollution, climate change, or other serious health and environmental harms. Those harms are only becoming more severe, as witnessed by the catastrophic storms and wildfires experienced this summer. The coalition argues that Congress should address the climate emergency by prioritizing investment in the following specific areas that – while broadly beneficial to improving the lives of all Americans – are critical steps in ending the legacy of inequity that afflicts marginalized and underserved communities:
- Ensure substantial additional funding to reduce climate change pollution at its source and foster climate resilience;
- Improve critical quality water and drinking water services, including providing adequate funding to ensure that all lead service lines are replaced;
- Invest in air quality monitoring in at-risk communities;
- Address methane pollution;
- Increase access to and investment in clean energy, including enacting the proposed Clean Energy Payment Program;
- Fund energy efficiency programs for schools and affordable housing;
- Accelerate the electrification of transportation and goods movement; and
- Support programs that advance workforce development and pollution reduction and improve the health of our communities.
Additionally, the coalition contends that in order for the Biden Administration to deliver on its Justice40 promise, Congress must ensure that 40 percent of improvements funded by the budget reconciliation bill benefit disadvantaged communities.
Joining Attorney General Kaul in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.