March 27, 2023

President Joe Biden speaks on fighting climate change before signing executive measures while White House Climate Commissioner John Kerry and Vice President Kamala Harris listen in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, USA on January 27, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden will this week announce the details of a major infrastructure package that will include record spending to curb climate change and accelerate a nationwide transition to clean energy.

The president is expected to spend up to $ 3 trillion in spending on economic stimulus efforts, including rebuilding aging infrastructure such as highways, bridges and railroads, and investing in technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to warm the planet.

Some of the guidelines listed in the table include:

  • Installation of thousands of new charging stations for electric vehicles
  • Funds for building energy efficient houses
  • Construction of new power lines

The package can be broken down into two bills, starting with bills that include Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and support its goal of zero carbon electricity generation by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050.

The recovery plan may include the installation of thousands of EV charging stations and incentives to encourage Americans to buy EVs.

As a candidate, Biden vowed to set ambitious fuel economy standards for gasoline vehicles to encourage a move to electric vehicles. The transportation sector is the largest contributor to US emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and could be the most difficult to decarbonize.

The package is also said to include funds for building millions of new energy efficient homes and retrofitting existing buildings to increase efficiency. There is money to build power lines that deliver renewable energy and expand power storage.

Paul Bledsoe, former White House climate advisor in Clinton, now with the Progressive Policy Institute, said Biden’s goal is to stimulate the economy and create new jobs during the transition from fossil fuels.

“The electrification of American cars and trucks, the creation of a nationwide intelligent power grid, the expansion of electricity storage to enable more renewable energies, the establishment of a universal high-speed Internet – all of these should increase the productivity and competitiveness of the economy while reducing emissions” so Bledsoe said.

Loading low-carbon energy initiatives into an infrastructure bill is likely to be more divisive in Congress than previous Covid stimulus bills. The last big step in the Senate’s enactment of climate legislation was in 2009, when Congress Democrats did not adopt a carbon pricing system.

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Some Democrats and climate activists fear that another failure to pass meaningful climate legislation amid fears that a clean energy transition could cost jobs.

Some Republicans who opposed Biden’s pandemic relief package have also condemned the president’s goal of mainstreaming climate policy into infrastructure legislation.

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., The Republican topmost on the House Committee on Transport and Infrastructure, said he would work with Democrats on infrastructure, but climate prioritization would not get GOP support.

“A transportation invoice has to be a transportation invoice, not a Green New Deal,” Graves said during a hearing on Thursday. “It has to be about roads and bridges.”

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she would support a bipartisan bill but not eliminate components that address climate change due to Republican objections.

“We cannot just settle for what we can agree on without realizing that this has to be a calculation for the future, that we have to acknowledge the climate crisis,” Pelosi told reporters.

Biden has argued that his climate action will create millions of jobs. The president has already passed a number of climate ordinances, including the suspension of the new oil and gas leasing in federal states and the resumption of the US in the Paris climate agreement.

The government tends to pursue bipartisan infrastructure legislation and pass other components through a budget vote that only Senate Democrats would have to vote for.

“To get the broadest support in Congress, Biden must first and foremost highlight the economic and labor benefits of these investments, not just the climate benefits,” said Bledsoe.

Stephanie Gidigbi Jenkins, Director of Policy and Partnerships for the Defense Council for Natural Resources, said the administration’s previous infrastructure proposal was “clearly on the right issues.”

“These investments will create millions of good American jobs and help us address the legacy of racial injustice,” Jenkins said.

“With the ambitions of the Biden administration and the dedication of key congressmen, we now have a historic opportunity to rebuild our economy for a cleaner and better future,” added Jenkins. “We are confident that Congress can achieve these goals.”