On April 30, Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced legislation in both the House and Senate to establish a federal green bank that encourages investment in clean energy and energy efficiency projects. The Green Bank Act of 2014 (H.R. 4522 and S.2271) would create permanent, reliable, low cost financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in order to reduce “financing gaps,” or gaps that occur when creditworthy projects are unable to reach their intended scale due to a lack of funding. Not only would the Green Bank Act of 2014 stimulate the creation of clean energy and energy efficiency projects, but it would work towards the goals of energy independence, reducing the impacts of climate change, and creating jobs. The funding would come from $10-$50 billion worth of Green Bonds issued by the Department of Treasury and the elimination of certain tax loopholes.

Rep. Van Hollen first introduced this bill back in 2009, when it passed the House but not the Senate. This time around, Van Hollen’s bill was cosponsored with Representatives Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Jim Himes (D-CT), and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT); and on the Senate side, Senator Murphy introduced his bill with fellow Connecticut Senator, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

In the absence of federal legislation, some states have already passed their own versions of a Green Bank bill. Connecticut was the first state, followed now by New York, Vermont, and Hawaii, with 10 other states in various stages of research on this legislation. Senators Murphy and Blumenthal, both from Connecticut where the first Green Bank was created, stated in a press release that, “as we’ve seen in Connecticut, green banks are the perfect way to encourage consumers to ‘go green.’ By supporting these green banks, our bill will make it easier for homes and businesses across the country to reduce their carbon footprints and ultimately slow the effects of climate change.” The federal Green Bank legislation introduced by Representative Van Hollen and Senator Murphy would not only create a federal Green Bank, but also provide seed funding for state Green Banks.

This bill was introduced just as the capital begins gearing up for Infrastructure Week 2014, which begins today. Infrastructure Week will be held from May 12 – 16 this year and will highlight major infrastructure challenges through daily events in Washington D.C. and online. The wide range of events cover a variety of topics, from passenger and freight transportation, the importance of interconnected infrastructure, the need to update aging infrastructure, and challenges facing drinking water and wastewater treatment, among others. National Infrastructure Week is organized by the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, Building America’s Future, 1776, the Organization for International Investment, the Value of Water Coalition, and the National Association of Manufacturers, along with a variety of affiliate organizations. EESI and its partners will be holding a May 15 briefing, “The Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment: Stories from Around the Country,” as part of Infrastructure Week.

As Representative Van Hollen stated in a recent press release “reclaiming America’s leadership in the global clean energy race of the 21st century, ensuring our nation’s long term energy independence, and tackling climate change has never been more critical than it is today. We can and must accomplish these vital national objectives, and creating the Green Bank will bring us one step closer to that reality.”