Renew New England Alliance presents detailed, community-driven green infrastructure plans

“Our communities know what they need to recover and to ensure that people won’t be so vulnerable to future crises,” said RI State Representative Brianna Henries. “This is the time to listen to them, trust them, and invest in them. Communities have put in the work to develop these detailed plans, and it’s time we put federal funding towards enacting them by passing the THRIVE Act.”

March 31, 2021, 4:31 pm

By Steve Ahlquist

The Renew New England Alliance, a coalition of more than 150 grassroots organizations including environmental justice advocates, Indigenous tribes, labor unions, racial justice organizations, faith communities, and youth groups from across the six New England states today pressed President Joe Biden to make an infrastructure investment that meets the scale of the overlapping crises the country and New England face. As President Biden unveiled his infrastructure agenda in Pittsburgh, New England congressional leaders, state legislators, and grassroots organizations presented detailed plans for how they would use federal funding to ensure all New Englanders have a dignified job with a livable wage, can afford a comfortable home and enough food, and can walk or play outside in clean air.

The plans, known as the THRIVE Act (Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy), were developed over the course of a year by communities throughout New England in collaboration with Renew New England Alliance. The coalition has introduced legislation in all six New England states that over the course of the decade would build and retrofit well over a million green affordable homes, create tens of thousands of dignified, well-compensated jobs, invest in sustainably-produced food, dismantle polluting industries in overburdened communities, and slash carbon emissions. Their plans would also establish state-funded, union-led job training programs for each of these careers.

More on the slate of Renew RI legislation here:

“Our communities know what they need to recover and to ensure that people won’t be so vulnerable to future crises,” said Rhode Island State Representative Brianna Henries, who sponsored Renew’s legislation in the Rhode Island House and emceed the Zoom call. “This is the time to listen to them, trust them, and invest in them. Communities have put in the work to develop these detailed plans, and it’s time we put federal funding towards enacting them by passing the THRIVE Act.”

The coalition was joined by United States Senator Ed Markey (Democrat, Massachusetts) and United States Representative Peter Welch (Democrat, Vermont) in calling for Congress and the Biden Administration to pass the THRIVE Act, a transformative, $10 trillion economic recovery package.

“We are facing a series of intersecting crises – climate change, a public health pandemic, racial injustice, and economic inequality. We know that we cannot defeat any of these crises alone. We must develop a roadmap for recovery that addresses them all at the same time,” said Senator Markey. “I am working with the Biden administration to continue to push for a bold and ambitious final package, to push for a plan that meets the scale and scope of this crisis and sets bold and aggressive standards for our recovery. That’s what our THRIVE Act is all about. We need a plan that will put people back to work, put money back in pockets, but will also fight systemic racism, protect public health, and drastically cut down on climate pollution. We can’t go back to business-as-usual.”

“We are responding [to this moment] with hope about taking on this enormous challenge of climate change and doing it in a way that’s practical, that’s going to create good jobs and good income in our communities, where it’s about communities being empowered,” said Representative Welch. “And that’s a testament to the power of local organizing and the tremendous work that Renew has done.”

“Bringing in federal investment by passing the THRIVE Agenda can empower more people to protect their homes, protect their families, and build the beginnings of a just future,” said Rhode Island State Senator Tiara Mack.

“This diverse and dynamic coalition has launched groundbreaking legislation that tackles crucial issues to our 32BJ members and their communities, including housing, food insecurity, and systemic racism,” said Roxana Rivera, Vice President of 32 BJ SEIU. “Finally, we are centering the people who have been excluded from economic opportunities for far too long. Beyond the Commonwealth, we need to pass the THRIVE agenda federally so we can rebuild and renew with a comprehensive federal infrastructure package.”

“We are working to advance solutions that are for us, about us, and by us. We are not an afterthought,” said Vermont State Senator Kesha Ram. “We are fighting for a different path forward, and one that honors all of us, and puts those who have been marginalized at the center – those experiencing energy poverty, those fighting for their rights on farms, the ones milking our cows and picking our vegetables, and our Indigenous communities. I stand shoulder to shoulder with you to help advance the federal THRIVE agenda.”

“It has never been more important for us to stand together and ensure the national plans to transition to 100% clean energy are equitable and inclusive,” said Connecticut coalition member Leticia Colón de Mejias. “And the Renew agenda does just this.”

“Here in Maine we’re fighting as hard as we can to address the climate crisis, rampant inequality, and racial injustice but we also need Congress and the Biden administration to pass the THRIVE agenda to make economy-wide investments tackling injustice, pollution, and joblessness,” said Maine State Representative Rebecca Millett.

“What we did start to see through during this pandemic was a surge of coalition-building across movements,” said New Hampshire coalition member Yolana Huerta. “A surge of initiatives of compassion established through mutual aid networks providing food and services neighbor-to-neighbor. But we still have work to do. The people have made it clear that we’re ready to take that work on. Now it’s time for the Biden administration and Congress to support the THRIVE agenda to invest in this work.”

The New England coalition has created such a roadmap for how this funding could be invested in community-driven solutions across the country. They say Congress and the Biden administration must seize this once-in-a-generation chance to pass a transformational economic recovery and infrastructure package to avoid going back to a pre-pandemic ‘normal’ that left so many behind.

According to Renew New England, Rhode Island’s federal delegation – Representatives David Cicilline and James Langevin and Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse – have not come out in support of the THRIVE Agenda, even though numerous national leaders like Senators Elizabeth Warren (Democrat, Massachusetts), Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont), and Edward Markey have )Democrat, Massachusetts) have.

Interested in the THRIVE Agenda? Consider the participating in the following events:

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