Long Island climate activists and labor organizations are urging congressional representatives to vote for the infrastructure reconciliation, "Build Back Better Act" this week to support funding to address climate change.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, stood with labor leaders and climate-change activists Tuesday on the Long Beach waterfront and called for Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) to vote for the bill and $555 billion in funding for issues including wind and electric power.

Activists called on Rice, Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) and other congressional representatives to pass the bill on the heels of the $1 trillion infrastructure package signed Monday by President Joe Biden.

Mariah Dignan, of Climate Jobs NY, speaks at a news...

Mariah Dignan, of Climate Jobs NY, speaks at a news conference Tuesday on Magnolia Pier in Long Beach to urge Congress to approve the Build Back Better Act. Credit: Jeff Bachner

"Climate change is real. It’s dangerous, expensive and scary and it’s here," Esposito said. "The time to act on climate change is now. The Build Back Better Act will change America from a nation that causes climate change to a nation that solves climate change. The climate crisis is a reality today. We can no longer wait. We must act now and not have any more partisan squabbling."

Rice has committed to support the bill and has been labeled as a swing vote of moderate Democrats key to passing the bill. A vote by the House of Representatives this week would still require the Senate to pass it with its own list of amendments.

"Rep. Rice is grateful for the advocacy groups and unions rallying in support of the Build Back Better Act, which she has committed to support," her spokesman said. "She also promised to be a responsible steward of her constituents’ tax dollars, and she is keeping that promise by reviewing the nonpartisan economic analysis conducted by the Congressional Budget Office ahead of the BBB vote to ensure the bill’s cost is consistent with White House estimates. If there are any inconsistencies, Rep. Rice is committed to working to resolve them in order to pass the legislation."

Esposito said the $1.7 trillion companion bill to the infrastructure package will include funding for social issues and environmental projects, including offshore wind farms and solar energy, and shift the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels to electric energy and make electric cars and charging stations more affordable.

Advocates pointed to past storms like Superstorm Sandy and recent storms that have battered Long Island as signs of urgency to combat more severe weather events and rising sea levels.

Long Island Building and Trades president Matthew Aracich said both the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act are vital to creating Long Island jobs in rebuilding roads and bridges and in the climate sector, like wind energy.

"The Build Back Better Act is the answer to fighting climate change while addressing the lingering effects COVID had on our economy," he said.

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