Climate Action to Right Historic Wrongs

As the Senate continues negotiations to get the Build Back Better agenda across the finish line, it’s clear that climate inaction is not an option.

The climate emergency is here and we are living it. In Oregon alone, we’ve been met with temperatures soaring into the stratosphere; drought drying up our waterways and melting our mountain tops; smoke choking our neighborhoods; and wildfires devastating our forests. 

Unfortunately, it is abundantly clear that the tribal nations who have inhabited Oregon’s land since time immemorial are bearing the brunt of climate disasters. For some tribes in Oregon, this has meant diminishing access to clean drinking water, a fundamental human right.


I spent last week with Oregonians from all walks of life rightfully demanding that Congress act on climate now. In those conversations with young activists with Portland Youth Climate Strike and Sunrise PDX as well as some of Warm Springs’ tribal elders, we discussed how it’s time for billionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share in the fight for the future of our planet.


We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve this in the Build Back Better agenda.. I was proud that the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill which, among many things, includes $250 million to improve drinking water quality and services for the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs as well as tribes elsewhere in Oregon and nationwide. 


As Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over our nation’s tax code, I’ve taken a good hard look at the numbers and overhauling our broken tax code is essential to reducing carbon emissions and providing critical infrastructure that would honor U.S. treaty obligations to Native American tribes.


Right now, the tax code is tilted to favor special interests with more than 40 separate tax giveaways, anchored by big benefits for dirty fossil fuels. My Clean Energy for America Act would replace those with three tax incentives built for the 21st century – one for clean energy generation, one for clean transportation and one for energy efficiency. My legislation accounts for roughly 75 percent of estimated carbon emission reductions in the Build Back Better agenda.


Removing subsidies for fossil fuel and incentivizes clean energy adds up to: 

  • Getting rid of the toxic pollution currently poisoning our communities, especially low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal nations;

  • Providing incentives for the transition to clean transportation, including more transit opportunities; 

  • Creating good-paying, union jobs here at home that will support clean energy and grow our economy.


I think we can all agree, it’s time for billionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes as we fight to save our planet, just like nurses, teachers and firefighters do with every paycheck. 


It’s clear that Oregonians are battling the impacts of the climate crisis every day and it’s long past time their government stepped up to do the same.