WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced executive actions Wednesday to address climate change after his legislative agenda faced a setback in Congress.
Biden said additional steps will follow soon, though lawmakers are unlikely to move forward on the issue.
Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., rejected the Democrats’ plan to combat climate change and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations through a pending domestic policy package. Biden needs the backing of all 50 Democratic senators to use a legislative maneuver to prevent Republicans from blocking the package.
“This is an emergency,” Biden said, hinting at a national emergency declaration he could make to unlock federal resources. “I’ll look at it that way.”
Ad stop: Biden announced his executive actions during a visit to a former coal-fired power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, which is being converted into a cable manufacturing center to support the state’s offshore wind industry.
Beating the heat: Biden’s plan included $2.3 billion for a program that helps communities deal with heat waves, floods, wildfires and other extreme weather events. The program prioritizes serving historically disadvantaged communities.
Energy bills: Biden is expanding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program to give states more options on how to spend federal funds to help keep low-income people cool. Those most at risk from the growing consequences of climate change are marginalized African American, Latino, Native American and Asian communities, who are disproportionately close to sources of pollution or lack the means to protect themselves and access health care. according to a study in 2021.
Wind power: The Department of the Interior is proposing areas in the Gulf of Mexico for wind turbines. Biden wants the department to advance wind power development off the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Biden said he will announce additional executive actions in the coming weeks.
One possible action is to declare a climate emergency, which would allow spending to be redirected to renewable energy production.
National climate adviser Gina McCarthy said Biden wants to “outline actions, not just declare things.”
“It was just important for the president to understand the various threads of work that we can put together and present them in a way that he was comfortable with,” he told reporters traveling with Biden to Massachusetts, where advocates held up a large, red banner that It read: “Declare National Climate Emergency.”
The best takeaways
Biden is facing pressure from climate activists and some Democrats on Capitol Hill.
After Manchin said he would not support the domestic policy package if it had climate change provisions, Biden said he “will not back down.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus wants Biden to declare a climate emergency.
what they are saying
“Our economy is at risk,” Biden said. Wednesday. “So we have to act.”
“This day, Biden said that climate change is an emergency, but we are sick of seeing this administration fail to treat it as such,” said Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash.
American Clean Energy Association Executive Director Heather Zichal applauded Biden’s actions to boost the offshore wind industry, but said Biden is limited in what he can do through executive authority. “It is clearer than ever that we will not achieve our country’s goals at the speed we should without the full power of Congressional action,” Zichal said in a statement.
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Contact Rebecca Morin on Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden announces executive actions to address climate change