Heinrich: We Need To Act On Climate And Electrify For Peace

“Ramping up our deployment of clean energy and our adoption of fossil fuel-free appliances is a national security issue. And it has become a global security imperative.”

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), founder and Co-Chair of the Electrification Caucus, participated in a virtual press conference hosted by Rewiring America to discuss addressing Russia’s unjustified war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s global energy price hike by accelerating our transition to clean energy, passing climate investments, and securing true American energy independence.

VIDEO: A Full Video Recording of the Press Conference is Available Here

During his remarks, Senator Heinrich said that, “Banning the import of Russian oil and gas, which fuels Putin’s unjustified war atrocities in Ukraine, was the right thing to do. But this whole scenario has demonstrated just how dangerous—and just how costly—our dependence on fossil fuels has become.”

Heinrich continued, “We need to be clear that the right answer to lowering energy prices for Americans and our allies is not ‘Drill Baby, Drill.’ That is never going to address the root of this challenge. We need to quite literally focus our energy on clean alternatives to fossil fuels if we ever want to break away from this paradigm.”

Last week, Senator Heinrich wrote an op-ed in The Hill with Rewiring America’s CEO Ari Matusiak calling on America to lead the widespread electrification of the appliances in our homes—and in the homes of our allies in Europe—to scale up new manufacturing opportunities, reduce dangerous climate warming pollution, achieve significant savings on our energy bills, and cut off any dependence on Russia’s hydrocarbons.

Senator Heinrich ended his remarks by stating that, “We need to get the Senate back to the table to pass necessary and substantial investments in clean energy generation, in transmission, and in home and vehicle electrification. We can’t waste this opportunity that is still right there for us to seize. Ramping up our deployment of clean energy and our adoption of fossil fuel-free appliances is a national security issue. And it has become a global security imperative.”

Senator Heinrich was joined today by Co-Chair of the Electrification Caucus, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Co-founder and COO of Scale Microgrid Solutions Tim Hade, U.S. Army Veteran and Climate Justice Organizer for Common Defense Lakiesha Lloyd, CEO of Rewiring America Ari Matusiak, and Lead for Evergreen Action Wes Gobar.

Senator Heinrich’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Thanks everyone for joining us today.

Banning the import of Russian oil and gas, which fuels the unjustified war atrocities in Ukraine, was the right thing to do.

But this whole scenario has demonstrated just how dangerous—and just how costly—our dependence on fossil fuels has become.

This dependence empowers Putin and props up other malign foreign regimes in oil producing countries like Venezuela and Iran.

There are short-term relief measures that the administration can take to ease the energy burden on American families.

I strongly believe that we should do all we can to protect American households from the burden brought on by Vladimir Putin's global price hike on energy.

But if it wasn’t clear before, then it is now painfully obvious that true energy independence requires breaking our country’s cycle of fossil fuel dependence.

And we need to be clear that the right answer to lowering energy prices for Americans and our allies is not “Drill Baby, Drill.”

That is never going to address the root of this challenge.

We need to quite literally focus our energy on clean alternatives to fossil fuels if we ever want to break away from this paradigm.

In addition to scaling up our clean energy production, that means dramatically ramping up our production of clean, electric, and fossil fuel-free vehicles and machines.

Or as I like to call this Electrify for Peace.

As one of the founding members of the Electrification Caucus in Congress, I have been leading the call to scale up our manufacturing and adoption of electric appliances like heat pumps.

These appliances save families money on their energy bills, are dramatically cleaner to run, and most importantly to this particular discussion: they do not rely on any hydrocarbons like oil or fossil gas.  

And they can play a key role in helping our European allies break off their current overdependence on Russian oil and fossil gas that is helping Putin finance his war in Ukraine.

There are currently 76 million homes in Europe—if you include the United Kingdom—that rely on gas for heating.

That is a major source of leverage for Vladimir Putin.

But there are existing technologies that are right off the shelf today and policy tools at our disposal that we should deploy to significantly aid in electrifying these homes.

And our first priority should be accelerating the replacement of all the Russian gas-powered furnaces with electric heat pumps.

We can place a significant procurement order by the U.S. Department of Defense, utilize Loan Program Office capacity, and invoke the Defense Production Act to pump out heat pumps to electrify European homes.

And while we are at it, we should scale up our installation of electric and fossil fuel-free appliances here at home.

We need to pass the rebates for these appliances that are in our Zero-Emission Homes Act.

These rebates will help families with the upfront costs of installing these appliances—like heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and induction stoves—which create major savings on monthly utility bills and wean us off of fossil fuels.

And we need to get the Senate back to the table to pass necessary and substantial investments in clean energy generation, in transmission, and in home and vehicle electrification.

We can’t waste this opportunity that is still right there for us to seize.

Ramping up our deployment of clean energy and our adoption of fossil fuel-free appliances is a national security issue.

And it has become a global security imperative.

We need to Act on Climate and we need to Electrify for Peace.

Thank you.