A small item in the recently-passed infrastructure bill could provide energy funding for churches and synagogues.
The US Senate approved a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill on Tuesday with bipartisan support. While several parts of the bill have received attention from pundits and lawmakers, a small project could benefit many churches.
The bill contains a small project titled "Energy efficiency materials pilot program." The project would provide $50 million in grants to nonprofits to purchase new heating and cooling systems for their buildings.
According to Religion News Service, the pilot program "was spearheaded almost a decade ago by the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, a Jewish public policy arm representing one of the largest Orthodox Jewish group in the US, and supported by a coalition including the National Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals and the YMCA of the USA."
If left as is, it could provide significant funding to several religious communities to replace and repair current heating and cooling systems.
The downside is that the project will be limited in scope, the size of the grants is expected to average around $200,000. This grant size mixed with the $50 million allocation means that only 250 nonprofits would benefit.
Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals told RNS: "Anything we can do to help the energy efficiency in the nonprofit sector is good for mitigating climate change and the operating efficiency of nonprofits that play such important roles in our society." With declining donations, many church congregations are deferring on paying for upgrades on basic services. Funding could go a long way toward helping those lacking resources to maintain their facilities.