Amid stalled negotiations over major environmental legislation in Washington, President Joe Biden announced new executive steps to combat climate change on Wednesday but stopped short of issuing a climate emergency declaration as some Democrats have called for.
“Since Congress is not acting as it should … this is an emergency, and I will look at it that way,” Biden said. “As president, I’ll use my executive powers to combat the climate crisis in the absence of executive action.”
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Funding for a program that helps communities prepare for disasters by increasing flood control and retrofitting buildings was increased by $2.3 billion, and funds were also leveraged to assist low-income families with heating and cooling costs.
Joe Biden Plans to Curb Climate Emergency
The administration hopes to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, and the president has ordered the Department of the Interior to propose new offshore wind areas in the Gulf of Mexico to facilitate this goal.
The speech was given at a decommissioned coal plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, where the president formally announced the initiatives. A cable-making factory serving the offshore wind sector will be located at the plant.
Following last week’s breakdown in negotiations with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, the White House is now scrambling to save Biden’s aggressive climate agenda. When Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a moderate and swing vote in the Senate, told Democratic officials that he would not back major climate provisions in the reconciliation bill, they began to worry that Congress would not be able to pass any significant climate legislation this summer.
The administration hopes to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, so the president has ordered the Department of the Interior to propose new offshore wind areas in the Gulf of Mexico. This could provide electricity to more than 3 million homes. President Biden has issued an order to Interior Secretary Zinke to accelerate wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida and the middle and southern Atlantic coast.
The president made the announcements at an old coal plant in Somerset, Massachusetts. An offshore wind cable manufacturing facility will be located at the plant.
The directives are being issued as the White House tries to rescue President Biden’s ambitious climate agenda after negotiations with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin broke down last week. As the swing vote in the Senate, centrist Joe Manchin has told Democratic officials that he will not support major climate provisions in the reconciliation bill, reducing the likelihood that Congress will pass any major climate legislation this summer.
When it came to combating climate change, Democrats and environmental groups demanded that the president declare an emergency. The government may be able to halt some oil and gas drilling or other fossil fuel plans and redirect those resources to clean energy initiatives if such a declaration is made.
On Wednesday, seven Democratic lawmakers led by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) urged President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency immediately in order to access the powers of the National Emergency Act (NEA) and pursue regulatory and administrative actions to curb emissions.
“Declaring the climate crisis a national emergency under the NEA would unlock powers to rebuild a better economy with significant, concrete actions,” the senators wrote in the letter. “Under the NEA, you could redirect spending to build out renewable energy systems on military bases, implement large-scale clean transportation solutions, and finance distributed energy projects to boost climate resiliency.”
President Joe Biden has pledged to reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by 50–52 percent by the end of the decade and to achieve net–zero emissions by 2050. Independent research firm Rhodium Group has concluded that the United States is on track to fail to meet the president’s target unless major climate legislation is passed.
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