Climate change is one of the major targets of the Biden Administration’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, which would also fund social programs and additional infrastructure items not included in the smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill. While the bill has met several roadblocks, the attention to climate on the federal level could not come at a more critical time.
After a summer of severe weather events and other climate warnings, many groups and businesses are recognizing this urgent moment and are asking the government to take meaningful action to address climate change. Businesses in the outdoor industry have been especially vocal. Nationally, the outdoor recreation economy generates 5.2 million direct jobs and $788 billion annually. In Pennsylvania alone, recreation contributes 171,000 direct jobs and $13.2 billion to the state’s GDP. This is all at risk if climate change worsens — increasingly common conditions like heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, and diminished wildlife populations degrade natural areas and make outdoor recreation less accessible, which in turn decreases demand for outdoor gear and services. PEC supports the outdoor industry’s role in advocating for programs that invest in public lands and waters, protect and create jobs, and promote stewardship of natural resources.
The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), a trade organization representing the outdoor industry, sent a letter last week to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voicing their support for the climate provisions included in the proposed reconciliation package.
“Meaningful federal policies are required to address the growing threat of climate change, encourage other industries to join the effort, and ultimately strengthen America’s economy.”
OIA’s Executive Director, Lise Aangeenbrug, wrote:
“We are already taking significant actions to reduce emissions and embrace climate-forward practices, but the federal government needs to do more if we are going to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Meaningful federal policies are required to address the growing threat of climate change, encourage other industries to join the effort, and ultimately strengthen America’s economy.”
The letter expressed specific support for creation of and funding for a Civilian Climate Corps, implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act, promoting renewable energy access and job creation, increasing electric vehicle and electric bicycle infrastructure, and increasing access to outdoor spaces for traditionally underserved communities.
“Although the reconciliation package is a sprawling piece of legislation and we might not agree on every provision or pay-for, our companies are united in the belief that meaningful climate provisions are critical – not just to protect the planet, but to safeguard the success of our industry and the American economy,” the letter says.
PEC supports and is actively working towards action on the state and federal levels that will help create a more climate-resilient Pennsylvania. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting a clean energy economy will help keep our public lands and waterways healthy, so they remain popular outdoor recreation destinations for years to come.