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Reps. Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman Introduce Resolution to Make Power a Public Utility

June 3, 2021

ST. LOUIS, MO – Today, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) and Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) introduced a Public Power Resolution. The resolution sets up a framework to guarantee basic utility services for all Americans, while reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. 

“Our country must transform its power system to be just, equitable, anti-racist, and climate- and disaster-resilient,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “For too many families in St. Louis and across the country, the high cost of energy means having to choose between keeping the heat on in the winter or buying groceries. I, myself, have had to make that choice. This is a problem that does not affect everyone equally. The burden of high energy costs is felt disproportionately by low-income and Black and brown families. Every person has the right to these basic services and by making them public goods, we can unburden families and reduce our country’s dependence on fossil fuels.”

“We need a transformation to our energy system that not only reflects our climate reality,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman. “We need an energy system that is of, by, and for the people — not corporations seeking the largest possible profit. As long as energy is treated as a commodity, not a right, poor people, workers, and communities of color will suffer. We need to make power a public utility to end man-made energy disasters and ensure that no family ever has to choose between keeping the lights on or feeding their kids. I’m proud to stand with Rep. Bush so that we can move closer to that future we all deserve.”

The full text of the legislation can be found HERE.

A one-pager of the bill can be found HERE.

The resolution is co-sponsored by: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Rep. Marie Newman (IL-03), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05), and Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-03).

The resolution is supported by: The Democracy Collaborative, Center for Biological Diversity, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, Native Organizers Alliance, Just Community Energy Transition Project, Progressive Democrats of America, People's Action, Our Revolution, Sunrise Movement, Food & Water Watch, Demos, St. Louis Democratic Socialists of America, Sunrise St. Louis, Friends of the Earth U.S., Public Power NY Coalition, NYC Democratic Socialists of America, Corporate Accountability, Climate Hawks Vote, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Zero Hour, Indivisible, GASP, Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program, NC WARN, Soulardarity, United for a New Economy, People Power Solar Cooperative, Churches United For Fair Housing, Inc., Rogue Climate, Our Power, Florida Rising, Local Clean Energy Alliance, Center for Popular Democracy, Partnership For Working Families, The United People Project, UTIER, CAMBIO PR, Queremos Sol, and more. To find a full list of endorsing organizations, click here.

“Our for-profit energy system is broken,” said Jean Su, the Director of the Energy Justice program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It lines corporate fossil fuel utilities’ pockets while poisoning communities of color, curtailing their access to energy and fueling the climate and extinction crises. We can’t just build back better. We need to build back justly. We applaud Rep. Bush and Rep. Bowman for introducing this resolution, which pioneers a new energy system that is renewable, democratic, anti-racist and public.” 

“We need to end the privatized, fossil-fueled, and racist energy system that we live in today,” saidJohanna Bozuwa of The Democracy Collaborative. “In its place, we can build a public and community-controlled energy system, rooted in justice. Access to affordable and clean energy is a human right, and the federal government has the power to support communities across the United States already on the ground fighting for energy democracy. The Democracy Collaborative is energized by the leadership of Reps. Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman and their call for equitable public power.” 

We need public utilities that are accountable to the people,” said Grace Tedder of Sunrise St. Louis. “Monopoly utilities like Ameren claim to have our best interests at heart, but they're more focused on their shareholders than the public, and we can't address climate change equitably unless we are putting people over profits. Sunrise St. Louis is proud to join Rep. Bush in calling for a re-imagining of our energy systems.” 

"St. Louis DSA recognizes that privately owned utilities seek profit over the public good, and this focus contributes to the catastrophic climate crisis and inherently ravages communities of color and the working class,” said Emmett McKenna from the St. Louis Democratic Socialists of America. “We proudly endorse Rep. Bush and Rep. Bowman's bill transferring utilities to public ownership in order to fairly serve all people and the planet, and we are proud to share an organization with both of them."

“UTIER believes that access to electricity is a basic human right and that the electrical system should be operated in the public interest, not for profit,” said Angel Figueroa Jaramillo of the UTIER (Union of Electrical and Irrigation Industry Workers, Puerto Rico). “Today we are fighting against the privatization of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which threatens the jobs and pensions of thousands of union workers and threatens to undermine Puerto Rico's transition to an affordable, reliable, 100% renewable energy-based electrical grid.”

"Public ownership, energy democracy, and rapid decarbonization are essential to confront the climate crisis and dismantle legacies of environmental injustice,” said Thea Riofrancos of DSA's Green New Deal Campaign Committee. “Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are proud to support Rep. Bush and Bowman's Public Utility Resolution, and work together for energy to be governed as a public good for all rather than a source of profit for the few."

To avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis and build a new equitable economy, we need to invest in transformative and visionary change,” said the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. “This public utility resolution will build community health and wealth while advancing community and local control, which are key components of our platform Gulf South for a Green New Deal. Representatives Bush and Bowman are demonstrating the ambition required to take on the climate crisis.”  

“The Indigenous Environmental Network knows precisely how the monopolization and market-centric utility models that rely on fossil fuels fail to respond to the climate crisis, while simultaneously causing great harm to Indigenous, Black, and other marginalized communities,” said Ashley McCray Engle of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “As we stand on the frontlines of the climate crisis and fossil fuel extraction, we know the time is now for a Just Transition rooted in Indigenous knowledge that moves us toward a renewable, regenerative future. For these reasons, we endorse Representative Cori Bush and Representative Jamaal Bowman’s Public Utility Resolution.”