The Build Back Better Act makes our country better. More specifically, it continues the transition towards renewable energies and away from fossil fuels. That transition makes a special kind of sense for us in Iowa. We don’t have access to coal. We have no natural gas production. The nearest oil field is almost a thousand miles away. If we want to be efficient, if we want to be energy independent, if we want to save money, then we should use the resources at our disposal. And, what natural resources does Iowa have in abundance? Sunshine, wind, and water.
Many have recognized the potential of clean energy and the electric vehicles it can power. GM expects its entire fleet to be electric by 2035. Nationwide, jobs in solar energy fields have almost doubled since 2010, and, anecdotally, 1 Source Solar in Ankeny has basically tripled its number of employees in the last three years. Almost 60% of Iowa’s electricity generation came from wind last year, and that percentage will only increase.
Our federal legislators have recognized the need to build on this success. Clean energy infrastructure was a key part of the bipartisan infrastructure package voted for by Rep. Cindy Axne and Sen. Chuck Grassley that was recently signed into law, and it’s an even bigger part of the Build Back Better Act that recently passed the House with Axne’s vote.
$555 billion. That’s the amount of money in the Build Back Better Act going to climate priorities. If the bill becomes law, residential solar will become more affordable by about 30%. Investments in renewables in our electric grid will reduce consumer prices and make our electricity more reliable. Electric vehicles made in America with American materials and union labor will become cheaper by $12,500. Because of the investments into EV charging infrastructure and road maintenance in the bipartisan infrastructure package, those same electric vehicles will be easier to drive long distances.
Together, both packages are a historic investment — not only in clean energy, but for our country as a whole. One of us owns a unionized T-shirt store, gets all his products from the US, and prints them here in Des Moines. From experience, we know how important these packages’ investments in the American supply chain are. The more we manufacture and produce in Iowa and in the US more broadly, the less beholden we are to outside forces. Paying fair wages and buying locally and nationally reinvests money into our communities, making it easier for our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens to find employment, security, and fulfilment.
These packages help businesses support their employees and our planet. They provide the structure we need to grow our economy, reduce inflationary pressures, and protect our environment for the next generation. We appreciate the work our members of Congress have done to pass them and look forward to seeing the benefits they’ll bring to our communities.
Mike Draper is the owner and founder of Raygun, a regional printing, design, and clothing company based out of Des Moines. Andrew Fisher is a solar energy & electric vehicle consultant with 1 Source Solar, a solar energy installer serving agricultural, commercial, and residential clients across Iowa.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Opinion: Build Back Better supports and invests in everybody