Rep. Cleaver’s TREE Act Passed By House of Representatives

Sep 25, 2020
Press Release
Bipartisan Bill Would Reduce Residential Energy Costs in Low-Income Communities

(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, by a vote of 220-185. Included in the bipartisan legislation that would help to build a clean energy economy, support job growth, and address climate change was United States Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II’s (D-MO) Tackling Residential Energy burdens Efficiently Act (TREE Act), which was adopted as an amendment to the original bill text of H.R. 4447. The TREE Act, which would reduce residential energy bills across the nation by planting millions of trees in low-income and urban communities, was introduced by Congressmen Cleaver and David McKinley (R-WV) this month.

“I’m thrilled we were able to get this bipartisan, common sense legislation adopted into the House of Representatives’ energy package before the end of the 116th Congress,” said Congressman Cleaver. “With this bill, we have an opportunity to bring down utility costs, noticeably improve air quality, and rectify some of the environmental injustices that have overburdened low-income and communities of color for far too long. While we’ve still got some work to do to ensure it becomes law, this is an important first step towards that goal."

The TREE Act would create a cost-share grant program at the Department of Energy to provide $50 million in funding to plant a minimum of 300,000 trees annually in residential neighborhoods throughout the United States through 2025. The TREE Act’s grant program would prioritize projects that:

  • Provide the largest potential reduction in residential energy consumption for households with a high energy burden;
  • Are located in a neighborhood with lower tree canopy cover and higher maximum daytime summer temperatures;
  • Are located in a neighborhood with high amounts of senior citizens or children;
  • Will collaboratively engage neighbors and community members that will be closely affected by the tree planting; and
  • Will employ a substantial percentage of the workforce locally, with a focus on engaging unemployed and underemployed persons.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, urban/community forests reduce the energy used for heating and cooling homes by more than 7 percent, resulting in approximately $7.8 billion in annual savings from reduced energy costs. The U.S. Forest Service has also found that increased tree canopy can decrease morbidity and mortality for urban populations—particularly in areas with lower socioeconomic status where existing tree canopies tend to be the lowest.

Organizations endorsing the TREE Act include: the Heartland Tree Alliance, Bridging the Gap, Citizens’ Climate Lobby-Kansas City, American Forests, the National Audubon Society, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Evangelical Environmental Network, the American Institute of Architects, the Trust for Public Land, and the City of Kansas City Office of Environmental Quality.

The TREE Act was also introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

You can find the official text of the TREE Act here.

 

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matt Helfant at 202-590-0175 or Matthew.Helfant@mail.house.gov A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.