Matsui and Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Homeowners Plant More Trees and Reduce Energy Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 26, 2021 | George Hatamiya (916-201-5412)

WASHINGTON, D.C.Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), John Sarbanes (D-MD), David McKinley (R-WV) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), as well as Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the TREES Act, a bill that will help homeowners lower energy costs, increase tree canopy in underserved communities, and help mitigate the effects of climate change through residential tree planting.    

The TREES Act would create a cost-share grant program at the Department of Energy to provide $50 million in funding to plant a minimum of 300,000 trees annually in residential neighborhoods through 2026. The program seeks to prioritize low wealth communities as well as areas with low tree canopy and heat islands.

“Every American deserves to breathe clean air and live in a healthy environment with vibrant green space. Yet, far too many people across the country live in communities without this vital infrastructure. In Sacramento, we recognize the importance of building out an equitable urban tree canopy that focuses on bringing trees to low wealth and underserved communities,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Through the efforts of local organizations – we are successfully lowering energy costs, reducing temperatures on our streets, improving air quality for families, reducing stormwater runoff, and beautifying neighborhoods – leading to healthier and more climate resilient communities. The TREES Act incentivizes successful programs like ours and scales them to the national level. By creating a competitive tree-planting grant program, we can empower communities to improve green space and clean air access, reduce consumer costs, and help fight climate change – a win-win-win. I am proud to reintroduce this critically important legislation so that every zip code has the opportunity to thrive.”  

“I’m proud to introduce the TREES Act with Congresswoman Matsui and the rest of our bipartisan coalition to plant millions of trees in cities across this country,” said Congressman Cleaver. “By funding urban reforestation and increasing tree canopy in urban centers, we can lower residential energy bills, improve air quality, and combat heat islands, as temperatures continue to rise each year, including in Kansas City. This is common sense legislation that every American can get behind, and I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure it makes its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

“This bipartisan effort will help lower home energy costs, reduce stormwater runoff and increase the tree canopy in communities across the country – especially in communities of color that too often get denied the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of outdoor green spaces,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “By planting more trees, we can also take an important step forward to address the climate crisis, improve air quality and promote equity so that all Americans get to enjoy the benefits of trees.”

“Today, in public policy, we are forging a 21st century architecture of environmental health that harmonizes natural resources with healthy prosperity.  Trees are playing a starring role,” said Rep. Fortenberry. “One straightforward, cost-effective, and scalable strategy that can be readily branched out is to incentivize planting of trees to reduce residential energy consumption.”

“Natural solutions can be a significant tool in reducing emissions. By incentivizing planting trees, we can improve the quality of our air, reduce energy bills, and create healthier neighborhoods,” said Rep. McKinley. “This bill will create new federal partnerships with nonprofits, utility companies, and state and local governments to help reduce carbon emissions and provide benefits to our economy.”

“Planting trees improves our air quality, reduces temperatures on hot days, and creates healthier neighborhoods,” said Senator Booker. “Low-income communities and communities of color typically have fewer neighborhood trees, leading to serious health issues. I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to address this environmental justice issue that has disproportionately impacted our most vulnerable communities for far too long.”

“By planting more trees in our communities, we can improve the quality of our air, increase property values, and reduce residential cooling costs,” said Senator Capito. “Connecting this program to our energy providers, nonprofits, and state and local governments will enable us to work together to reduce our carbon emissions and provide significant benefits to our economy. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation that will lead to many benefits for future generations.”

“Trees are life-saving infrastructure, as our summers’ record heat has made painfully clear.” said Jad Daley, CEO and President, American Forests. “Trees shade our homes in the summer and block wind in the winter—saving billions of dollars annually in reduced residential energy bills and protecting people from the dangers of extreme weather. The TREES Act will establish new federal partnerships with utility companies, states, cities, and towns to ensure tree equity for every neighborhood, regardless of income or race, so that these powerful benefits of trees can be enjoyed by all.”

"The TREES Act provides the opportunity to decrease energy burdens, make urban tree canopy cover more equitable, and enhance urban wildlife habitat through the planting of native trees,” said Melinda Cep, Vice President of Working Lands and Natural Climate Solutions, National Audubon Society. “Audubon applauds this bipartisan effort to adapt our cities into solutions for the dual climate and biodiversity crises."

“BPC Action supports the TREES Act of 2021 and commends the bipartisan, bi-cameral effort for its introduction,” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director, BPC Action. “We are glad to see congressional support for innovative energy policies that recognize the multiple benefits of trees for reducing both emissions and residential energy consumption.  This bill will increase community tree canopy cover, reducing residential energy consumption and therefore cutting costs for households that spend a large percentage of their income on home energy bills.”

“Tree planting is one of the most powerful tools we have to address the devastating effects of climate change,” said Kirin Kennedy, Deputy Legislative Director, Sierra Club. “We all have a role to play in cultivating a liveable planet and the TREES Act will help our communities plant thousands of trees in a just and equitable way. This will make our neighborhoods cooler, cleaner, and healthier, providing the shade and green space too many of our communities lack.”

Full text of the bill is available here.

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