From the quiet of the backcountry, we have seen and experienced the climate changing.
Larger wildfires, unpredictable flash floods, hotter heat waves, bigger storms and longer droughts have curtailed, canceled or seriously imperiled outdoor adventures of all types. To those of us in the outdoor industry, it is clear we have no more time to waste.
The Build Back Better Framework now before Congress in the reconciliation bill, is the solution to transitioning to cleaner energy and cutting climate pollution in half by 2030. Science and our own observations have shown us the full magnitude of this moment, and we must respond in kind with the passage of this legislation.
Among other important provisions, the bill includes $555 billion in funding to move our economy away from damaging fossil fuels to clean energy. Of these funds, over $450 billion is targeted toward power generation and transportation and clean supply chains. The Build Back Better Act will speed the transition from gas- and coal-fired power plants to zero-emission alternatives.
While these changes will affect jobs of all types, the net result will increase clean energy jobs and give workers the opportunity to transition as we build the wind and solar installations needed to meet these goals. As our transportation system changes, incentives in the bill will support the production of electric vehicles, with an upsurge in jobs to produce batteries for these vehicles right here in the United States.
We in the outdoor world talk a lot about building trails and making natural places accessible to everyone, but without clean air, hiking and biking is uninspiring and unhealthy. The Build Back Better Act will significantly reduce pollution in our urban areas with its proposed $4 billion investment for the Department of Transportation neighborhood access and equity grant program to reduce surface transportation-related air pollution – a big step forward in environmental equity for all.
Rural areas, like Cortez, where Osprey has been based since 1990, will greatly profit from solar and wind projects. With annual revenues predicted to grow to nearly $60 billion, these projects are on par with revenues from beef and other major agricultural commodities.
Our region will also benefit from President Joe Biden’s announcement to make sweeping cuts to methane emissions from oil and gas production – a major contributor to the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere – which is low-hanging fruit in the climate change battle. Because methane is relatively short-lived in the atmosphere (unlike CO₂), reducing methane emissions will improve the atmosphere more quickly, while simultaneously ensuring cleaner air here in Southwest Colorado and many other oil and gas producing regions across the country.
Infrastructure resilience is another big part of the Build Back Better Act. In recent years, we have seen many trails and roads on our public lands damaged by storms and fires, eliminating access until necessary funding can be found for repairs. This problem is now widespread as we see intermittent closures on highways across Colorado because of high winds, rockfalls and flooding.
The do-nothing option is no longer an option. The time for impactful action has arrived. We must begin the process of living in congruence with the Earth. Now we know the unintended consequences of burning fossil fuels and over using our precious resources.
By passing the Build Back Better Act, we have a unique and once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass economic and climate investments that will create good paying jobs, address environmental inequities and reduce pollution across the board now, creating a future we can all live in for generations to come.
Rob BonDurant is vice president of marketing for Osprey Packs in Cortez.