New details from the massive $3.5 trillion spending package being pushed by Biden administration officials and Democratic lawmakers show that included in the bill are large sums of money for climate-conscious initiatives such as "tree equity" and "high-performance green buildings."
What are the details?
The final draft of the behemoth Build Back Better Act was released Saturday by Democrats on the House Budget Committee and it is already facing heavy scrutiny from many Americans.
Critics have pounced on several provisions in the bill, including one that earmarks an additional $79 billion over the next decade for the Internal Revenue Service so that the agency can ramp up its tax enforcement efforts and others that award millions toward race and gender-based bias training.
But two climate provisions included in the legislation are also sure to raise some eyebrows.
According to the bill's text, $3 billion will be earmarked for the Department of Agriculture to provide grants "for tree planting and related activities to increase community tree canopy and associated societal and climate co-benefits, with a priority for projects that increase tree equity."
Under the bill's guidelines, the Agriculture secretary shall give priority in awarding grants to "underserved populations" or communities in which 30% or more of the population lives below the poverty line.
Additionally, the General Services Administration, which helps manage and support federal agencies, is slated to receive $1 billion for the purpose of converting its federal facilities into "high-performance green buildings" designed to reduce environmental impact.
What's 'tree equity'?
In its coverage of the provision, the New York Post cited American Forests, a conservation nonprofit organization that explains "tree equity" is the notion that there should be "enough trees in specific neighborhoods or municipalities for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits that trees provide."
On its website, American Forests says, "Trees are more than scenery for our cities, they are critical infrastructure that every person in every neighborhood deserves — a basic right that we must secure."
The nonprofit even put a new spin on a popular national phrase, pledging, "One nation, under forests."
Is there a theme in this spending bill?
Both the "tree equity" and "green buildings" initiatives fall in line with one of the spending bill's major themes: climate consciousness.
As such, making good on President Biden's promise, the bill allots $2.25 billion "to be used for staffing, salaries, and other workforce needs to support the development of a Civilian Climate Corps for the purposes of managing National Forest System land."
Once funded, the team of environment protectors will be commissioned to various parts of the country to fight climate change on the taxpayer's dime.