As part of the President’s America the Beautiful Initiative, the Biden-Harris Administration launched an interagency effort, called the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), that will work to create more safe, affordable, and equitable opportunities for Americans to get outdoors.
The FICOR – which includes leaders from the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense – will focus on improving access to nature, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, and providing the public with improved and more affordable experiences on America’s public lands and waters.
Increasing access to outdoor recreation is one of the six areas of focus outlined in President Biden’s America the Beautiful Initiative. The FICOR will help coordinate policies, facilitate partnerships, and improve implementation on issues such as:
Investing in resilient recreation infrastructure, such as electric vehicle charging stations, trails, campgrounds, visitor centers, docks, and boating access;
Bolstering education and career opportunities in conservation, outdoor recreation, habitat restoration, and resource management work, and providing comprehensive visitor information for the hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, birding, climbing, and boating communities;
Cooperating with State, Tribal, territorial, and local governments, including those in communities near Federal lands and waters; and
Improving equitable access to Federal lands and waters and creating a welcoming visitor experience in collaboration with private, public, Tribal, and nonprofit organizations.
The launch of the FICOR renews and re-energizes a body that was originally created in 2011 but was suspended by the previous administration. Prior to being suspended, the FICOR successfully launched recreation.gov, helped the Bureau of Economic Analysis begin tracking outdoor recreation as an economic sector, and worked to establish the Every Kid Outdoors Pass.
With outdoor recreation continuing to grow rapidly as an economic sector, including by contributing 1.8 percent of GDP and generating $374.3 billion in economic output, and America’s parks and public lands experiencing record-level visitation, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking unprecedented steps to expand equitable access to the outdoors and to protect natural, cultural, and historic resources. In addition to launching the FICOR, the Administration has:
Launched historic investments through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the restoration of Federal lands and waters, including by improving availability of and equitable access to outdoor recreation opportunities.
Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo announced funding opportunities from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) $2.96 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds to address the climate crisis and strengthen coastal resilience and infrastructure. Over the next five years, NOAA’s targeted investments in the areas of habitat restoration, coastal resilience, and climate data and services will advance ongoing Federal efforts toward building climate resilience. Projects focused on building “Climate Ready Coasts” will invest in natural infrastructure projects that power outdoor recreation along our coasts by restoring coastal habitats, removing marine debris, storing carbon, and creating jobs.
Established the America the Beautiful Challenge, a $1 billion public-private competitive grant program which funds locally led, voluntary conservation and restoration activities, including the development of outdoor recreation access and workforce development. The first round of grants – totaling $85 million – will be released in November 2022.
The Interior Department announced more than $61 million in grant funding to communities in 26 cities to create new parks and trails, or substantial renovations to existing parks, through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program. The program, established in 2014 and supported by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, enables urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors in economically underserved communities.
As the largest Federal provider of water-based outdoor recreation in America, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is investing $120 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022 to improve recreation facilities across the nation. These investments will promote equitable access to outdoor recreation opportunities and support local communities. USACE recreation areas had 268 million visits in the last fiscal year, resulting in spending that supports approximately 217,000 jobs and generates nearly $14.5 billion for local economies.
Expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities on National Wildlife Refuge System lands and waters.
The U.S. Department of the Interior expanded hunting and fishing access on 2.1 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge System lands and waters in 2021, the largest expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities in recent history. The Department is continuing to explore opportunities to provide additional access to refuge system lands. Hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016, according to the Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 101 million Americans — 40 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older — pursue wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.
Focused acquisitions and improvements of Federal lands and waters under the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) of 2020, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced more than $503 million in funding for National Forests and Grasslands. The funds will go to projects to address deferred maintenance and improve campgrounds, trails, and facilities on National Forests. Funds will also be spent on land acquisition to expand recreation opportunities for visitors and strengthen resource protection partnerships with State agencies and private organizations.
The Department of the Interior announced $279 million to support Federal lands and waters and expand outdoor recreation access utilizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation and resource protection projects.
Expanded outdoor recreation opportunities by protecting areas for future generations.
Secretary Deb Haaland announced the establishment of the Lost Trail Conservation Area in Northwest Montana as the 568th and newest unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This expansion – the first new unit in the Refuge System for the Biden-Harris Administration – is the culmination of a 20-year, locally-led effort to conserve important big game corridors and recreational areas in the region. The Service worked in partnership with the Trust for Public Land and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) to purchase the 38,052-acre conservation easement from its continuing owner, Southern Pine Plantations.
The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, and the five Tribes of the Bears Ears Commission formalized their partnership for co-management of the Bears Ears National Monument. The Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Pueblo of Zuni will be joint managers of the National Monument and will receive resources from Federal agencies to participate in and take leadership on the management of their ancestral lands.
The USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are considering a 20-year withdrawal of 225,000 acres of U.S. Forest System lands in Minnesota to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness – the most visited wilderness area in the country. The Rainy River watershed flows north toward the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park, landscapes renowned for high-quality fishing, wildlife viewing, and recreational opportunities due to the large number of interconnected lakes and pristine water quality. The proposed mineral withdrawal aims to prevent further negative environmental impacts from future mining operations. It also evaluates the impacts of future mining on important social, cultural, and economic values.
On World Oceans Day, NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad announced NOAA’s initiation of the designation process for a new national marine sanctuary to conserve Hudson Canyon in the Atlantic Ocean. A sanctuary designation would help conserve the area’s rich marine wildlife and habitats, and promote scientific research, ocean education, and recreation opportunities such as whale watching, recreational fishing, and boating.
Created workforce development opportunities with the establishment of an Indian Youth Service Corps Program.
The Biden-Harris Administration announced the launch of the Indian Youth Service Corps Program, which will provide meaningful education, employment, and training opportunities to Indigenous youth through conservation projects on Federal and Indian lands – thereby putting young people on a path to good-paying jobs while helping to address the climate crisis.
White House Marks Year of Progress Since President Biden Activated All of Government to Advance Environmental Justice
You wouldn’t believe it from the obsessive focus of media – especially right wing media – on griping over inflation in prices over supply chain and increased demand (instead of higher wages and record jobs creation) and the inability to surmount the Republican obstruction over Build Back Better and Voting Rights legislation, but the Biden Administration has chalked up quite a record of progress in major issues, chief among them climate action and environmental justice. Here is a fact sheet from the White House:
Nearly one year ago on January 27, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, laying the foundation for the most ambitious environmental justice agenda ever undertaken by an Administration and putting environmental justice and climate action at the center of the federal government’s work.
The executive order formalized the President and the Vice President’s commitment to ensuring that all federal agencies develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionately high and adverse health, environmental, economic, climate, and other cumulative impacts on communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.
Over the past year, senior administration leaders have worked tirelessly to secure historic and long overdue investments in environmental justice, advance science-based regulations that reduce environmental pollution, strengthen enforcement of the nation’s environmental and civil rights laws, and elevate the voices of environmental justice communities in the White House and throughout the Administration.
Mobilizing a Whole-of-Government Approach to Environmental Justice
Delivering on Justice40. As part of the President’s historic commitment to environmental justice, he created the Justice40 Initiative to ensure that federal agencies deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to underserved communities. In total, hundreds of federal programs, representing billions of dollars in annual investment — including programs that were funded or created in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — are being reimagined and transformed to maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities through the Justice40 Initiative. An initial cohort of Justice40 pilot programs are already working to maximize the delivery of benefits to disadvantaged communities, and some agencies are creating new programs to maximize the benefits of climate and clean energy programs directed to disadvantaged communities, such as the Communities LEAP (Local Energy Action Program) Pilot, the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize, and the Energy Storage for Social Equity Initiative. An annual Federal environmental justice scorecard, the first of which will be published this year, will report on agencies’ progress in the implementation of the Justice40 Initiative and other key environmental justice priorities and commitments.
Building a Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. This screening tool, which will be continuously updated and refined based on public feedback and research, will improve the consistency across the federal government of how agencies implement programs and initiatives that are intended to benefit underserved communities. A beta version of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool will be released for public review and comment early this year.
Renewing Focus on Environmental Equity and Justice across the Federal Government. Agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Labor, the General Services Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have launched new or strengthened equity and justice offices, task forces, strategies and policies. USDA, for example, is standing up an independent Equity Commission to examine USDA programs to identify and make recommendations for how USDA can reduce barriers to access and advance equity. The Commission will also ensure accountability within and empower stakeholders in underserved communities outside of USDA to take fuller advantage of the department’s programs and services. To coordinate, lead, and elevate environmental justice policy and implementation across the government, the Administration has also established the White House Environmental Interagency Council led by Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory.
Protecting Communities from Toxic Pollution
Advancing an Ambitious Regulatory Agenda. Over the last year, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken more than 200 actions to repair the damage caused by the prior Administration’s rollbacks and implemented an ambitious regulatory agenda to address environmental justice. From revoking usage of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that has negative health impacts on farmworkers and children, to taking action on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a dangerous “forever chemical” linked to certain cancers, weakened immunity, thyroid disease, and other health effects – this Administration has prioritized rulemakings that protect the health and well-being of vulnerable communities. The President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children is also leading and coordinating cross-agency work to reduce pollution burdens and exposures, including lead exposure and asthma disparities in children of color.
Strengthening Enforcement of Environmental Laws. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken steps to enhance civil and criminal enforcement of environmental violations in communities overburdened by pollution. The EPA, for example, has taken steps to initiate early and expedited cleanup actions, deliver case outcomes that bring tangible benefits to overburdened communities, provide more robust monitoring and transparency tools, and bolster community engagement. The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request for the Department of Justice includes $5.0 million in increased funding for the Environment and Natural Resources Division to expand its use of existing authorities in affirmative cases to advance environmental justice and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change and to continue defensive and other work related to climate change.
Journey to Justice Tour. In November 2021, EPA Administrator Michael Regan embarked on a “Journey to Justice” tour, traveling to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to spotlight longstanding environmental justice concerns in historically overburdened communities and to hear firsthand from residents dealing with the impacts of pollution. Today, EPA is announcing a series of concrete actions to respond to the communities’ concerns, including more community air pollution monitoring, fenceline monitoring, inspections, and funding commitments.
Addressing Legacy Pollution. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history. The law will invest $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine lands, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells that are sources of blight and pollution. These investments are happening now. EPA recently announced a historic $1 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to initiate cleanup at 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country. Approximately 60 percent of the sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects are in historically underserved communities.
Recognizing that millions of Americans live within a mile of one of the tens of thousands of abandoned mines and oil and gas wells across the country, DOI is working to speed the deployment of initial grants from the law’s $16 billion in funding for mine and well clean-ups. DOI recently released initial guidance for states interested in applying for Federal grants that will fund the proper cleanup of orphaned oil and gas wells and well sites, with 26 states responding to express their intent to apply for formula grant funding.
Investing in Clean Drinking Water. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will expand access to clean drinking water to all American families, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines, and help to clean up dangerous PFAS chemicals. Specifically, the law will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers all across the country, including in Tribal Nations and rural disadvantaged communities that need it most. These investments will be guided by the Biden-Harris Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, a historic and ambitious effort to deploy catalytic resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law while leveraging every tool across Federal, state, and local government to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes, and remediate lead paint. The plan includes over 15 new actions from more than 10 Federal agencies to ensure the Federal government is marshalling every resource and making rapid progress towards replacing all lead pipes in the next decade. The White House also has developed a whole-of government research plan on contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water that will support safe drinking water advisories, standards, and mitigation efforts that protect public health.
Improving Air Quality. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken decisive action to improve air quality – especially in disadvantaged communities. EPA has initiated rulemakings to reduce harmful air pollutants from heavy-duty trucks that heavily impact low-income communities and communities of color. EPA has also targeted leaded fuel used in small planes, which contributes to air pollution and accounts for 70 percent of lead borne emissions. In December 2021, EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation launched a $20 million grant competition that calls for proposals to conduct air pollution monitoring in communities experiencing disparities in health outcomes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on behalf of DOT, is proposing revised fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks for model years 2024-2026; DOT estimates that this would increase the average fleet’s fuel efficiency by 12 miles per gallon by model year 2026. In addition, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $17 billion in modernizing ports and waterways, including funds that will support electrification of port infrastructure and provides the investment needed to deliver thousands of clean school buses to help reduce harmful environmental impacts on communities on the fence line of industry and transportation corridors. The law also provides a $5 billion investment in electric vehicles that will support the deployment of an equitable nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers.
Strengthening Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Change
Investing in Community Resilience. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural infrastructure in American history. The law invests over $50 billion to make communities safer and infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change – droughts, heat waves, wildfires and floods – which disproportionately impact communities of color. These investments have already begun flowing to resilience projects in underserved and overburdened communities, including a $163 million investment to restore the Cano Martin Pena urban tidal channel and surrounding areas of the San Juan Bay National Estuary – an urban waterway project that will significantly improve the health and welfare of the surrounding communities in San Juan. In the coming year, the Army Corps will also engage with environmental justice communities in the development of a strategy to allocate $130 million for two pilot programs that target the needs of economically-disadvantaged communities.
Building a Coordinated Federal Response to Climate Impacts. To address the multi-faceted nature of climate change and its impact on frontline communities, the Biden-Harris Administration launched five cabinet secretary level Resilience Interagency Working Groups under the National Climate Task Force focused on coastal resilience, drought, extreme heat, flood, and wildfire. These Working Groups are tasked with recommending and coordinating actions, programs, and resources to mitigate climate impacts and subsequent recovery challenges that are often felt most heavily by underserved and overburdened communities. For example, the Extreme Heat Working Group was responsible for launching a coordinated, interagency effort to address extreme heat – including the first-ever employer mandates on heat risk – to respond to extreme heat that threatens the lives and livelihoods of Americans, especially frontline and essential workers, pregnant workers, children, seniors, economically disadvantaged groups and those with underlying health conditions.
Advancing Equitable Outcomes for Disaster Survivors. Pursuant to Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) evaluated the equity of its programs and processes to reduce barriers to access experienced by underserved populations through programs that provide individual assistance to disaster survivors. Based on this review, FEMA has begun to amend its policies to provide greater flexibility and increase access to assistance for disaster survivors. The policy changes that FEMA is implementing include: expanding the types of documentation that homeowners and renters can use to prove ownership or occupancy; expanding financial assistance for home cleaning and sanitizing as well as for disaster-caused disability; and changing how the threshold for property losses are calculated to qualify for direct housing assistance, which helps ensure that damage evaluations are done in an equitable manner regardless of the size of the damaged home. As of mid-January 2021, these changes have resulted in the delivery of more than $120 million in financial assistance for mold remediation; $22 million for the cleaning and sanitization of homes; and more than 100,000 survivors receiving home repair and rental assistance as a result of expanded ownership and occupancy documentation requirements.
Bolstering Tribal Community Resilience. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes historic investments in Indigenous communities’ efforts to tackle the climate crisis and boost the resilience of physical and natural systems. Enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Administration recently committed $40 million to the Espanola Valley, Rio Grande and Tributaries, New Mexico to restore and protect 958 acres of aquatic and riparian habitats that are an integral part of constructing social identity and transmission and retention of traditional knowledge for both the Pueblo of Santa Clara and Ohkay Owingeh. As part of this broader commitment to Tribal community resilience, DOI also recently awarded nearly $14 million to dozens of American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations and organizations to support their climate adaptation planning, ocean and coastal management planning, capacity building, and relocation, managed retreat, and protect-in-place planning for climate risks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has invited Tribal leaders to consult on the agency’s implementation of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, including $400 million to enhance fish passage (of which up to 15 percent will go directly to Tribes), $492 million to improve and restore natural infrastructure through the National Coastal Resilience Fund, and $172 million to support recovery of Pacific coastal salmon. Further, the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget includes an increase of more than $450 million to facilitate climate mitigation, resilience, adaptation, and environmental justice projects in Indian Country. This includes investments to begin the process of transitioning Tribal colleges to renewable energy through DOE, and a new Indian Land Consolidation Program through DOI that will enhance the ability of Tribal Nations to plan for and adapt to climate change and promote economic development on lands restored to Tribal ownership.
Empowering Communities with Actionable Climate Data. The Biden-Harris Administration launched a whole-of-government initiative to deliver accessible and actionable information to individuals and communities that are being hit by flooding, drought, wildfires, extreme heat, coastal erosion, and other intensifying climate impacts. This effort is designed to put authoritative and useful information into the hands of more Americans—from broadcast meteorologists sharing climate information with communities, to farmers checking drought outlooks, to businesses planning for extreme weather, to families making decisions about their homes and neighborhoods. By continuing to strengthen partnerships with community stakeholders, state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, and businesses, the Biden-Harris Administration will ensure that Federal information services respond to evolving needs, particularly those of disadvantaged communities.
Delivering Clean, Affordable Energy
Lowering Energy Burdens. The Biden-Harris Administration has provided $8.2 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to States, Territories, Tribes, and Tribal Organizations, including $4.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). Combined, these funds more than doubled the typical annual appropriations—the largest increase in the program’s history—to assist low-income households with meeting their home energy needs. HHS followed this with guidance providing flexible options for states, territories, Tribes, and Tribal organizations to adjust their LIHEAP programs to address extreme heat. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law doubles down on the Administration’s commitment to lowering energy burdens by investing: an additional $500 million in LIHEAP, which will prioritize eligible households with young children, the elderly, and people with disabilities; and a historic $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring health and safety and creating jobs.
Increasing Access to Clean Energy. The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized the deployment of distributed and community scale energy resources in the underserved and overburdened communities that need them most. The Department of Agriculture launched the Rural Energy Pilot Program with $10 million in available grants for rural communities that are particularly underserved to deploy community-scale clean energy technologies, innovations, and solutions. DOE launched the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+) tool, an online platform that enables jurisdictions to rapidly approve residential solar installation permits. EPA launched new residential sector partnerships to accelerate efficiency and electrification retrofits with a focus on underserved residential households through its ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade Program. To coordinate these interagency actions, the Biden-Harris Administration launched a Distributed Energy Resources Working Group under the National Climate Task Force focused specifically on accelerating deployment of distributed energy resources in disadvantaged communities.
Modernizing the Grid. FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working collaboratively with the government of Puerto Rico to administer over $12 billion of Federal recovery funds earmarked for rebuilding and improving Puerto Rico’s grid. These funds are being used to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and support initiatives in Puerto Rico that focus on mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. DOE and FEMA have also launched a comprehensive study to evaluate pathways to meeting Puerto Rico’s 100 percent renewable energy targets in a way that achieves both short-term recovery goals and long-term energy resilience. The study, titled PR100, will be grounded in a commitment to environmental and energy justice and informed by extensive engagement with Puerto Rico stakeholders to reflect the island’s diverse priorities.
Enabling Equitable and Sustainable Communities
Increasing Affordable Transportation Options. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law expands access to public transit and makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak – a major investment in transit equity. The law will invest $66 billion to provide healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding rail networks across the country. The law also provides $1.2 billion annually through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program to fund Vision Zero plans and construct projects that will prevent transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries, which disproportionately impact rural communities and communities of color. To ensure these funds facilitate equitable outcomes, DOT has solicited input from stakeholders on the data and assessment tools available to assess transportation equity. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes investments for a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic transportation investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access. DOT also requested $110 million in its Fiscal Year 22 budget to create a new Thriving Communities program that would establish a new office to support communities with eliminating persistent transportation barriers and increasing access to jobs, school, and businesses.
Tackling Segregation, Discrimination, and Exclusion. The Biden-Harris Administration has restored the implementation of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” requirement, which requires HUD and its funding recipients, such as local communities, to take affirmative steps to remedy fair housing issues such as racially segregated neighborhoods, lack of housing choice, and unequal access to housing-related opportunities. HUD anticipates issuing a proposed rule that would help recipients of HUD funding identify needs and take meaningful actions to overcome patterns of residential segregation. To increase access to affordable housing, DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of approximately $10 million in competitive grant funds for FTA’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning. The funds will support comprehensive planning efforts that help connect communities, and improve access to public transportation and affordable housing.
Investing in Healthy Housing and Buildings. The American Rescue Plan provided State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that dozens of states and cities have used to develop and preserve affordable housing, as well as support for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions that provide housing finance. Last week, the President launched the National Building Performance Standards Coalition to work with stakeholders, especially frontline communities, to address health, energy affordability, and emissions reductions goals across the buildings sector. Coalition members have agreed to ground their climate work in equity and justice through community-driven processes providing a voice for communities that were previously not invited to the table. These efforts will be bolstered by the more than $1.8 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support building sector policies, including $500 million for DOE’s State Energy Program, which provides funding and technical assistance to state, local, and Tribal governments to advance state-led energy initiatives; $550 million for DOE’s Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program to assist eligible governments to develop, promote, implement, and manage energy efficiency and conservation policy and projects in their jurisdiction; $250 million for grants to capitalize state-level revolving loan funds for energy efficiency; and $500 million for competitive grants to fund efficiency and renewable improvements in public school facilities.
The Biden Administration issued a progress report highlighting land and water projects underway as the nation pursues its first-ever National Conservation Goal:
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration issued its first annual progress report on the America the Beautiful initiative, highlighting steps the Administration has taken over the past year to support locally-led and voluntary efforts to conserve, connect, and restore lands and waters across the nation that sustain the health of our communities, power local economies, and help combat climate change.
Released by the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the report outlines the collective work to pursue the first-ever national conservation goal established by a President – a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The federal actions and activities described in the progress report align with the America the Beautiful initiative’s guiding principles, which include commitments to honor the nation’s conservation traditions, private property rights, the sovereignty of Tribal Nations, and the values and priorities of local communities.
In particular, the report centers on work that federal agencies are undertaking around six areas of focus: creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities; building connectivity and corridors for fish and wildlife; supporting Tribally-led conservation and restoration; increasing access for outdoor recreation; incentivizing voluntary conservation; creating jobs and growing local economies; and deploying nature to increase climate resilience and remove carbon from the atmosphere. The report also includes a brief review of land-cover changes and the status of fish and wildlife habitats and populations.
The report also reviews steps the Administration took this year to restore protections for important natural and cultural resources; to deepen partnerships and leverage resources with Tribes, states, private landowners, and other stakeholders; to restore science and incorporate Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge into decision-making; and to take an inclusive and collaborative approach to the stewardship of the land and water resources that sustain the nation’s communities and economies.
Notably, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a major boost to the America the Beautiful initiative. The new law provides the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history and will help communities be more prepared for drought and wildfire; address the legacy of pollution from orphan wells and abandoned mines; invest in clean drinking water; fund watershed rehabilitation and flood prevention projects; and improve coastal resilience efforts.
ADDITIONAL AGENCY ACTION
In addition to the progress report, the Biden-Harris Administration is also announcing today several steps to ensure that the America the Beautiful initiative is both guided by and reflective of the priorities, needs, and inputs of local communities, Tribes, States, landowners, hunters and fishers, and other important stakeholders. These steps are:
Gathering Public Input on the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas. As initially described in the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful May 2021 report, the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas will be a tool to provide a more accessible and comprehensive picture of conservation and restoration work nationwide. The co-lead agencies are initiating a formal comment period to collect input specific to the development of the Atlas, recognizing that many uses of lands and waters can be consistent with the long-term health of natural systems and contribute to addressing climate change and environmental injustices. This period will include a 60-day public comment period and public listening sessions in the first quarter of 2022. More details will be available in the coming weeks in the Federal Register and on federal agencies’ America the Beautiful webpages.
Engaging the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will re-engage an advisory council that will provide recommendations to the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to help advance wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing. This effort builds on the Wildlife Hunting and Heritage Conservation Council, first established in 2010. This contemporary group of subject matter experts will focus on policies that benefit wildlife resources; encourage partnership among the public, sporting conservation organizations, and Federal, State, Tribal, and territorial governments; and benefit fair chase recreational hunting and safe recreational shooting sports. Information on how to submit formal nominations for the advisory council will be forthcoming.
Improving the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program(CREP). USDA is improving CREP to bring in new partners who will work with producers on voluntary conservation practices and ultimately increase benefits for the nation’s agricultural producers and private landowners. The Conservation Reserve Program enables the USDA Farm Service Agency and partners to invest in partner-led projects. In direct response to feedback from State agencies, Tribes, non-profit organizations and other groups, USDA has updated matching fund requirements to include any desired combination of cash, in-kind contributions, or technical assistance; expanded its outreach efforts; and expanded the CREP team to increase capacity to work directly with existing and potential new partners. This effort is in line with the America the Beautiful initiative’s focus on incentivizing and rewarding voluntary conservation on private lands.
Establishing the Marine and Coastal Area-Based Management Federal Advisory Committee. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will establish an advisory committee that will provide advice to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA Administrator) on science-based approaches to area-based protection, conservation, restoration, and management in marine and coastal areas, including the Great Lakes. The committee would be composed of representatives of diverse interests and perspectives, providing a forum for discussion and advice on opportunities to advance key priorities through NOAA programs and authorities: conservation of biodiversity, climate resilience, and expanding access to nature for underserved communities. Information on how to submit formal nominations for the advisory committee will be forthcoming.
Investing in Coastal Wetlands Restoration. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will award more than $20 million to support 25 projects in 13 coastal states to protect, restore, or enhance more than 61,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. State, local and Tribal governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute more than $17.6 million in additional funds to these projects. These grants will have wide-reaching benefits for local economies, people, and wildlife – boosting coastal resilience, reducing flood risk, stabilizing shorelines and protecting natural ecosystems.
CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP BY STATES, TRIBES, AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES
Since President Biden announced the first-ever national goal to conserve at least 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030, states, Tribes, local governments, and private sector leaders across the country have advanced the effort, forging their own paths to conserve, connect, and restore more lands and waters. More than 50 Tribal leaders and organizations and hundreds of locally elected officials across the country have expressed support for the national conservation goal, recommendations, and guiding principles of the America the Beautiful initiative.
Many Governors are pursuing their own related goals and efforts in alignment with the America the Beautiful initiative. These efforts will support local economies, communities, and wildlife populations and habitats. Activities of note this year include:
California: The State convened advisory panels and held listening sessions over the course of 2021 to inform its draft plan and mapping tool in support of the Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal to conserve and restore 30 percent of its land and coastal waters by 2030.
Florida: In July 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, allocating $300 million to conserve interconnected natural areas in the state. This act aligns with the America the Beautiful early focus areas, specifically collaborative conservation to expand fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
Hawaii: The Division of Aquatic Resources continued developing its strategy for management of nearshore resources, consistent with its 2016 commitment, and the State also worked to support its ongoing 30×30 Watershed Forest Initiative over the past year.
Maine: Governor Janet Mills included a proposal in the state’s Climate Action Plan to conserve at least 30 percent of Maine’s lands by 2030.
Michigan: Lawmakers introduced a bipartisan resolution urging a statewide goal of conserving at least 30 percent of land and water as part of the nationwide effort.
Nevada: Lawmakers became the first in the nation to pass a resolution supporting the national conservation goal and urging State and local agencies to work cooperatively.
New Mexico: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order establishing a statewide goal of protecting 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030.
New York: Lawmakers passed State legislation setting a goal that would conserve at least 30 percent of the State’s land by 2030.
Leaders in the private sector also recognize that thriving ecosystems support successful businesses and communities and that world class natural areas can coexist alongside economic growth. For example, 342 organizations and businesses have already formally voiced their support for the President’s national conservation goal.
This fact sheet provided by the White House spells out how the bipartisan infrastructure package just passed will arm the government in battling the climate crisis:
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding access to clean drinking water, building up a clean power grid, and more.“
President Biden has made combatting the climate crisis a central priority of his Administration, including throughout his legislative agenda. Climate change is already impacting almost every aspect of life in the United States. Extreme heat waves, catastrophic wildfires, and severe drought are taking American lives and livelihoods. In the last year alone, extreme weather has cost America more than $100 billion – often hitting historically underserved groups the hardest, particularly low-income communities, communities of color, and people with disabilities. In just the last few months, nearly 1 in 3 Americans have been hit by a severe weather disaster and 2 in 3 Americans have suffered through dangerous heat waves. Delayed action on climate also sets us back in the global race on manufacturing and innovation, preventing us from harnessing the economic opportunity that this moment represents.
As President Biden emphasized at COP26 in Glasgow, climate change poses an existential threat to people, economies, and countries across the world – and it requires swift and bold action to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience. President Biden has been clear: the climate crisis is a blinking code red for our nation. We must take decisive action to tackle the climate crisis in a way that strengthens our nation’s resilience, cuts consumer costs, and ensures the U.S. can compete and win in the race for the 21st century. This moment demands urgent investments the American people want and our nation needs – investments that will bolster America’s competitiveness, resilience, and economy all while creating good-paying jobs, saving people money, and building an equitable clean energy economy of the future.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding access to clean drinking water, building up a clean power grid, and more. When coupled with the Build Back Better Framework, these historic investments will help reduce our emissions by well over one gigaton this decade – ensuring we meet President Biden’s commitment to reduce U.S. emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels in 2030, create a 100% carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. Together, these once-in-a-generation investments will unlock the full potential of a clean energy economy that combats climate change, advances environmental justice, and creates good-paying, union jobs.
President Biden promised to work across the aisle and unify the country to deliver results for working families. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a critical step towards reaching President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, and is paired with the Build Back Better Framework to realize his full vision to grow our economy, lower consumer costs, create jobs, reduce climate pollution, and ensure more Americans can participate fully and equally in our economy.
BIPARTISIAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL
Public Transit The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak – helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repairing, upgrading, and modernizing the nation’s transit infrastructure. The deal will invest $66 billion to provide healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks across the country. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles. And, it will benefit communities of color who are twice as likely to take public transportation and often lack sufficient public transit options. In addition, it will help transit workers who are disproportionally workers of color.
Electric Vehicle Infrastructure The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States. The deal is also a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The deal will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop – and funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.
Clean School Buses The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, to help school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The deal invests in zero- and low-emission school buses, in addition to more than $5 billion in funding for public transit agencies to adopt low- and no-emissions buses. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.
Modern Infrastructure The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.
Resilience The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The deal makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion to protect against droughts, heat, and floods – in addition to a major investment in the weatherization of American homes.
Clean Drinking Water The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will expand access to clean drinking water to all American families, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and help to clean up the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack access to safe drinking water. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers all across the country. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal will invest in water infrastructure and eliminate lead service pipes, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.
Legacy Pollution The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. Millions of Americans also live within a mile of the tens of thousands of abandoned mines and oil and gas wells – a large, continuing course of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is a major cause of climate change. The bill will invest $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. These projects will remediate environmental harms, address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities, create good-paying, union jobs, and advance long overdue environmental justice This investment will benefit communities of color like the 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans who live within three miles of a Superfund site – a higher percentage than for Americans overall.
Clean Energy Transmission The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal’s more than $65 billion investment is the largestinvestment in clean energy transmission and the electric grid in American history. It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It also invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.
The Interior Department acted immediately upon President Joe Biden’s executive orders to restore public lands and waters:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Immediately following his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed Executive Orders that take critical first steps to address the climate crisis, create good union jobs, and advance environmental justice, while reversing the previous administration’s harmful policies.
One of President Biden’s Executive Orders requires the Interior Department to conduct a review of the monument boundaries and conditions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears, Northeast Canyons, and Seamounts Marine National Monuments. The order directs Interior, in consultation with other agencies and Tribal governments, to determine whether restoration of the monument boundaries and conditions would be appropriate.
The Executive Order also places a temporary moratorium on activities related to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending legal and policy review. Pursuant to section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Executive Order also restores the original withdrawal of certain offshore areas in Arctic waters and the Bering Sea from oil and gas drilling.
The Interior Department will immediately begin to implement the orders, and make recommendations to the President as directed.
The Interior Department has issued a Secretarial Order that temporarily elevates review of relevant agency decisions, including final agency actions, regulatory actions, and energy development. During the 60-day window that the Order may be in effect, decision-making over these matters will be reserved for Department leadership for the purposes of reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy they raise. The Order does not impact existing ongoing operations under valid leases and does not preclude the issuance of leases, permits and other authorizations by those specified. In addition, any actions necessary in the event of an incident that might pose a threat to human health, welfare, or safety will continue.
The President also took swift action to begin an urgent, robust, and professional response to the growing public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak. An additional Executive Order will help slow the spread of the virus by asking all of us to do our part and requiring masks and physical distancing. The Interior Department will have additional department-specific guidance in the days and weeks to come.
Each one a person of remarkable achievement, who lifted themselves up, sometimes from abject poverty; several were the first in their family to go to college, several were immigrants or children of immigrants, and one is a 35th generation Pueblo Indian, the first Native American to lead the Interior Department which historically ruled over Indian lands and routinely violated treaties. The nominees and appointees to key climate and environmental positions are the incarnation of President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign promises, specifically, the first administration to elevating climate and environmental protection to this level and priority.
As Biden said, like his other cabinet picks, these climate, energy and environment nominees and appointees are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting, precedent-breaking, historic, “a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America.”
The contrast to Trump, who declared climate change a “hoax” and whose priorities – to overturn the climate action and environmental protection initiatives of the Obama-Biden administration and elevate to top positions lobbyists and executives from gas, oil, and mining industries, people of privilege and wealth – could not be more stark.
Clean energy, resilient infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and development, are the building blocks to Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan that will employ millions in new jobs and enterprises and keep the United States competitive with the rest of the world. “When we think about climate change, we think jobs.”
Electric cars – incentivized with purchase for the federal fleet – will mean one million auto industry jobs; transforming the electricity sector to being carbon-free “will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.”
He added, “And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice.
“These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions. And this team will get them done.”
Biden introduced his nominees:
Secretary of the Interior, Congresswoman Deb Haaland. Secretary of Energy, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan
Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory
National Climate Advisor and head of the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
Deputy National Climate Advisor, Ali Zaidi.
These nominees – as throughout Biden’s cabinet – are notable for their story and the values their background forged.
Here are their remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Remarks by President-elect Joe Biden
Today I am pleased to announce the team that will lead my Administration’s ambitious plan to address an existential threat of our time — climate change.
Like their fellow-Cabinet nominees and appointments, members of our environment and energy team are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting.
With today’s announcements there will be six African American members of our Cabinet.
After today, our Cabinet won’t just have one or two precedent-breaking appointments, but 12 —including today’s long-overdue appointment of the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.
Already there are more people of color in this Cabinet than any Cabinet ever. More women than ever.
The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be an historic Cabinet.
A Cabinet that looks like America.
That taps into the best of America.
That opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation.
And like the rest of the team, today’s nominees are ready on Day One, which is essential because we literally have no time to lose.
Just this year, wildfires burned more than 5 million acres in California, Washington, and across the West — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.
Intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and across the Gulf and along the East Coast.
Record floods, hurricane-speed windstorms, and severe droughts ravaged the Midwest.
And more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities and small towns, on coastlines and farmlands, in red states and blue states.
Billions of dollars in damage. Homes and memories washed away. Small businesses closed up for good. Crops and farmlands destroyed for the next generation family farmer.
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
And so many climate and health calamities are colliding at once.
It’s not just a pandemic that keeps people inside — it’s poor air quality.
Multiple studies have shown air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from Covid-19.
Folks, we’re in a crisis.
Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change.
We need to meet this moment with the urgency it demands as we would during any national emergency.
And from the crisis, we need to seize the opportunity to build back better than we were before. That’s what this Administration will do.
When we think about climate change, we think “jobs.” Good-paying union jobs.
A key plank of our Build Back Better economic plan is building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and clean energy future.
We can put millions of Americans to work modernizing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather.
When we think about renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers, racing to lead the global market.
We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.
We see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing innovative, energy-conserving buildings and homes. This will reduce electricity consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
And we will challenge everyone to step up.
We will bring America back into the Paris Agreement and put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change.
The current Administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked Big Oil companies over the American workers. Our Administration will not only bring those standards back — we will set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.
We see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country.
We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
Not only that — the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles.
And we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying clean, electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.
But we need to get to work right away.
We’ll need scientists at national labs, land-grant universities, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.
We’ll need ironworkers and welders to install them.
That’s how we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
We know how to do this.
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy and weatherized more than a million homes.
The Recovery Act made record clean energy investments — $90 Billion — on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.
We will do it again — bigger, and faster, and better than before.
We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to homeownership.
We’ll create more than a quarter-million jobs right away, to do things like working toward plugging the 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells that the EPA says pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.
We’ll launch a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.
And I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right. No, we haven’t fulfilled that right for a generation or more in places like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans, especially in low-income white, Black, Brown, and Native American communities who too often don’t have clean air and clean water is not going to be easy.
But it is necessary. And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice.
These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions.
And this team will get them done.
For Secretary of the Interior, I nominate Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
She’s of the Pueblo people. A 35th-generation New Mexican.
She’s from a military family. Her mom, also Pueblo, served in the United States Navy. Her dad, Norwegian American, a Marine now buried in Arlington.
A single mom, she raised her child while running a small business.
When times were tough, they relied on food stamps.
Congresswoman Haaland graduated from law school and got involved in politics.
Two years ago, she became one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress.
She serves on the Armed Services Committee, and Committee on Natural Resources, and Chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, where she’s earned the respect of a broad coalition of people — from tribal leaders to environmental groups to labor.
As the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in the history of the United States of America, she will be a true steward of our national parks, natural resources, and all of our lands.
The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial.
With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship, and I am honored she accepted this critical role.
For Secretary of Energy, I nominate Jennifer Granholm.
The first woman to ever serve as Governor of Michigan.
In 2009, she faced the collapse of a defining industry of her state and our nation.
But I saw firsthand how she responded. She bet on the autoworkers. She bet on the promise of a clean energy future.
Her leadership helped rescue the American auto industry, helped save one million American jobs, and helped bring Detroit back.
Governor Granholm is just like the state she led so effectively for eight years: hard-working, resilient, and forward-thinking.
Someone not only capable of solving urgent problems, but someone who sees the opportunities of the future always with her eyes on the needs and aspirations of working people.
Throughout her career, she’s worked with states, cities, business, and labor to promote a clean energy future with new jobs, new industries, cleaner and more affordable energy.
Now, I’m asking her to bring that vision and faith in America to the Department of Energy.
For Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I nominate Michael Regan.
A proud son of North Carolina, he turned a passion for exploring the woods and waters of the Inner Coastal Plain into a deep expertise in environmental science.
He got his start at the EPA serving in both Democratic and Republican Administrations, working on everything from reducing air pollution to improving energy efficiency.
He currently serves as Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, where he’s brought people together across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help build a new clean energy economy, creating quality jobs, and confronting climate change.
He led the charge to clean up the Cape Fear River, contaminated for years by dangerous toxic chemicals.
And he created North Carolina’s first board of its kind to address environmental justice and equity.
It helps lift up frontline and fenceline communities who had carried the burdens of industrial progress for too long, without sharing in the benefits.
Michael would be the second African American official and first African American man to serve in this position.
He shares my belief in forging consensus and finding common purpose.
He is the leader who will reassert the EPA’s place as the world’s premier environmental protection agency that safeguards our planet, protects our lives, and strengthens our economy for all Americans.
For Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I nominate Brenda Mallory.
An accomplished public servant. A brilliant environmental lawyer.
A daughter of a working-class family who has dedicated her life to solving the most complex environmental challenges facing America.
She has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, helping safeguard our public lands and helping communities manage their natural resources responsibly.
As Chair of CEQ, I’m asking her to coordinate our environmental efforts across the entire federal government to solve some of the most persistent environmental problems America faces today.
Brenda would be the first African American official to hold this critical position.
We are fortunate that one of the most widely respected environmental leaders in the country accepted the call to serve again.
To serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor and lead the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, I appoint Gina McCarthy.
The fact I’ve asked a former EPA Administrator to take this role and lead this new office shows how serious I am.
Gina’s got more than 30 years of experience.
She’s a policy wonk and a people person.
A problem-solver and coalition builder.
As EPA Administrator, she was instrumental in carrying out the Obama-Biden Climate Action Plan.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Getting toxins out of the air we breathe. Conserving critical water sources.
She led our effort to help lower carbon emissions of existing power plants and power plants of the future.
And by doing the necessary work here at home, she helped us rally the world around the Paris Climate Accords.
Today, I’m asking her to take a singular focus on carrying out our ambitious climate agenda here at home, while my Special Envoy John Kerry leads our climate efforts around the world.
I’m grateful to work alongside her again.
And to serve as Deputy National Climate Advisor, I appoint Ali Zaidi.
He served as a top climate advisor to President Obama and me at the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.
He helped draft and implement our Climate Action Plan and secure the Paris Climate Agreement.
He currently serves as New York’s Deputy Secretary of Energy and Environment and the State’s Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance.
He’s helping to create jobs generating solar and wind power, jobs building electric charging stations and a more modern grid, bold climate action grounded in science, economics, and public health.
And, he’s an immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in the Rust Belt, outside Erie, Pennsylvania.
Ali knows we can beat the climate crisis with jobs.
He knows we can deliver environmental justice and revitalize communities too often overlooked and forgotten.
And every day he’ll walk into the White House, knowing the world is looking for America to lead.
To each of you, thank you for answering the call to serve.
To your families, thank you.
We could not do this without you or them.
To the career civil servants at these agencies, we look forward to working with you to once again carry out your department’s mission with honor and integrity.
And to the American people — yes, the goals I’ve laid today are bold.
The challenges ahead are daunting.
But I want you to know that we can do this.
We must do this.
And we will do this.
We are America.
And there’s nothing we can’t do when we work together.
May God bless you all.
May God protect our troops.
Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland
I’m proud to stand here — on the ancestral homelands of the Lenape Tribal Nation.
The president-elect and vice president-elect are committed to a diverse cabinet, and I’m honored and humbled to accept their nomination for Secretary of the Interior.
Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. My life has not been easy — I struggled with homelessness, relied on food stamps, and raised my child as a single mom.
These struggles give me perspective to help people succeed.
My grandparents — who were taken away from their families as children and sent to boarding school, in an effort to destroy their traditions and identities — maintained our culture.
This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former Secretary of the Interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ us. I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.
I also stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, and all the people who have sacrificed so that I can be here.
My dad was a US Marine, and no matter where we were stationed, he made sure we spent time outdoors.
Time with my dad in the mountains or on the beach and time with my grandparents in the cornfield at Laguna taught me to respect the Earth and to value our resources. I carry those values with me everywhere. I’m a product of their resilience.
As our country faces the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice, the Interior Department has a role to address these challenges.
The president-elect’s goals are driven by justice and empowering communities who have shouldered the burdens of environmental negligence.
And we will ensure that the decisions at Interior will once again be driven by science.
We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community coming together in common purpose — this country can and will tackle this challenge.
The president-elect and vice president-elect know that issues under Interior’s jurisdiction aren’t simply about conservation — they’re woven in with justice, good jobs, and closing the racial, wealth, and health gaps.
This historic moment will not go by without the acknowledgment of the many people who have believed in me over the years and had the confidence in me for this position.
I’ll be fierce for all of us, for our planet, and all of our protected land.
I am honored and ready to serve.
Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm
Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect — thank you for your confidence.
I bring my gratitude, and that of the loves of my life: My best friend and husband Dan Mulhern, my glorious children and their equally magnificent spouses — Connor and Alexis, Cece and Damián, and Jack.
My commitment to clean energy was forged in the fire.
I was the Governor of Michigan when the Great Recession struck, pushing the auto industry — the lifeblood of our state — to the brink of collapse.
Workers were losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
Banks wouldn’t lend; families lost their homes; our unemployment rate shot up to 15 percent.
But then, thankfully, as now, “help was on the way.”
Joe Biden and the Obama administration worked with us to rescue the auto industry, save a million jobs, retool and electrify Detroit for the future, and diversify Michigan’s economy on the strength of a new sector: clean energy.
Today, in the midst of another harrowing crisis, clean energy remains one of the most promising economic growth sectors in the world.
Over the next two decades, countries will invest trillions of dollars in electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and energy-efficient appliances and buildings.
They’ll upgrade their electric grids using smart technology.
Millions of good-paying jobs will be created — but where will those jobs be?
In China, or other countries fighting tooth-and-nail to corner the clean energy market? Or here in America?
The path to building back better starts with building and deploying those products here, stamping them Made in America, and exporting them around the world.
We can win those jobs for American workers.
I know what those jobs will mean for families.
Though I’m proud to have been a U.S. citizen for 40 years, I arrived here as a Canadian immigrant at age four, brought by parents seeking opportunity.
My mom is a funny and fierce Irish/Welsh “Newfie” from Newfoundland, Canada — an island fishing province they call “The Rock.”
Like many women in her generation, she never went to college.
My dad died earlier this year of a cerebral hemorrhage.
He was born into extreme poverty, in a cabin in rural Canada with no running water.
My grandfather had immigrated from Sweden during the depression; unable to find a job to provide for his young family, he shot himself in desperation when my dad was three years old.
My grandmother became a single mom, with three young children, living in dire poverty.
My dad found work at a sawmill at 11. And after he married my mom, they came to America for better jobs.
Despite not having a college degree, my hard-working, gentle dad got the fair chance he was looking for in America — he started out as a bank teller, and retired as head of the bank.
It is because of my family’s journey — and my experience fighting for hardworking Michigan families — that I have become obsessed.
Obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America — obsessed with seizing the opportunities of a clean energy future.
We can let other countries beat us to those opportunities, or we can get in the game.
I’m so ready, and honored, Coach, that you are putting me on the field with this amazing team — to help create those jobs in every pocket of this country, and especially in the hardest-hit places, for the people still waiting on the fair chance they need.
Thank you for tapping me to work on their behalf.
Remarks by Nominee for Administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan
Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect: Thank you for this opportunity.
Growing up as a child, hunting and fishing with my father and grandfather in eastern North Carolina — I developed a deep love and respect for the outdoors and our natural resources.
But I also experienced respiratory issues that required me to use an inhaler on days when pollutants and allergens were especially bad.
I’ve always been curious about the connections between our environment and our health — how the world around us contributes to, or detracts from, our enjoyment of life.
So after completing my education in environmental science, there was one place in particular I wanted to work: the EPA.
When I started that first summer internship, I never imagined I would one day be nominated to lead the agency as its Administrator.
So this opportunity is a dream come true.
Since the start of my career, my goals have been the same: To safeguard our natural resources; to improve the quality of our air and water; to protect families and communities and help them seize the opportunities of a cleaner, healthier world.
Now, I’m honored to pursue those goals alongside leaders who understand what’s at stake.
When President-elect Biden called out the plight of fenceline communities during the campaign, he made it clear that we would no longer just deal with issues up to the fencelines of facilities — we would actually see the people on the other side of those fences.
He has already backed up that commitment by assembling a team that reflects America — and I’m proud to join the vice president-elect as a fellow HBCU graduate in this administration.
Together, this team will ensure that environmental justice and human impacts are top of mind as we tackle the tough issues.
After nearly a decade at the EPA, I know firsthand the remarkable dedication and talent of the career staff.
And as a state official, I understand how the actions of the EPA can help or hurt local efforts.
We are going to ensure that the EPA is once again a strong partner for the states — not a roadblock.
We will be driven by our conviction that every person in our great country has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthier life no matter how much money they have in their pocket, the color of their skin, or what community they live in.
We will move with urgency on climate change, protecting our drinking water, and enacting an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities.
But we also know that these challenges can’t be solved by regulation alone.
And we know that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive — they go hand in hand.
We need an all-hands-on-deck approach from industry to individuals, finding common ground to build back better for workers, for communities, for our economy, and for our planet.
And that’s what we’ll pursue together.
I look forward to continuing that work on behalf of the American people.
Remarks by Appointee for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory
Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect —I am honored and humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me, and I look forward to getting to work with this incredible team.
I am especially grateful for this chance to return to public service at a time when agency personnel are looking for optimism, and so many communities are struggling under the weight of persistent and interwoven crises.
I know first-hand the challenges that everyday people face when one unexpected illness or expense can upend the economic stability of a family.
I grew up in the working-class community of Waterbury, Connecticut — a town not so different from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
I know the faces of the marginalized, and I appreciate the challenges of urban pollution.
While the words climate change and environmental injustice were not part of my vernacular back then, the evidence of their impacts was all around.
In that setting, there was plenty of opportunity to work to make a difference in people’s lives.
For my parents, and particularly my father, dedication to tackling community challenges was vitally important.
Service, in all its forms, was essential.
They taught me to be a problem-solver — to recognize that each of us is blessed with different talents, and we are called to bring those gifts to bear wherever we are to work with anyone and everyone to make things better in the communities we share.
This has been a driving force and a guiding principle on my journey.
I earned a high school scholarship that changed the course of my life.
I became the first in my family to go to college, I attended law school, and at each stage, I was aware of how different the world I came from was from the one I was entering.
I didn’t set out to specialize in environmental issues, but once I started, I was always mindful of the practical implications of decisions.
As a staffer at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights, I learned that environmental protection and ensuring the health and wellbeing of all communities had to be reconciled.
It is essential that we deploy smart and humane policy to help communities pull themselves back from the edge and improve the health, security, and prosperity of all their people.
The Build Back Better plan is poised to breathe new life into the Council on Environmental Quality.
CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts.
I am grateful to the President-elect and the Vice President-elect for elevating this work and lifting up the communities where it will make a world of difference.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve.
Remarks by Appointee for White House Climate Coordinator, Gina McCarthy
Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect—
Thank you for the opportunity to serve — and to work alongside this talented team.
The issues I’ll be taking on in this role are personal to me, and have been for as long as I can remember.
As keen listeners may have already guessed, I grew up in and around Boston.
My Dad was a teacher in the Boston Schools for more than 40 years; my Mom waitressed in local doughnut shops.
Looking back, I guess we were a lower-middle-class family. Instead of expensive vacations, my sisters and I did our adventuring in our backyard, playing in the woods and around ponds in our hometown.
A beach day for our family was a swim in Boston Harbor.
That meant coming out of the water with oil and other things stuck to our skin — so we’d have to dry and clean ourselves at the same time.
That was back in the 60s, before the first Earth Day — not the Boston Harbor of today.
I can remember jumping up to close the windows in my classroom when the chemical stench from the nearby rubber factory would start wafting in.
That smell kept us from outside recess on more days than I cared to remember.
So I figured out early on that there was a connection between our environment and our health.
And that understanding drew me into a long career of public service helping families and communities like mine, and those facing much steeper and more insidious legacies of environmental harm to overcome the challenges that were holding them back.
Environmental protection is part of my moral fiber.
And I am proud of the progress we’ve made and the work I did in local and state governments as well as at EPA to make air and water cleaner, make communities safer and more livable, and begin to confront climate change.
I’m here today because climate change isn’t only a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of people, and the precious natural resources we depend on.
Defeating that threat is the fight of our lifetimes.
And our success will require the engagement of every community and every sector in our nation, and every country across our world.
But the opportunities to act on climate right now fill me with hope, energy, and excitement.
We not only have the responsibility to meet this moment together, we have the capacity to meet this moment together.
The President-elect has put together the strongest climate plan ever raised to this level of leadership.
It rises to this incredible moment of opportunity to build back better for our health, for jobs, and for communities that have been systemically disadvantaged for years.
It will be my honor to help turn this plan into promises kept by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science — and the values of environmental justice — to build a better future for my two—soon to be three—little grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come.
Thank you for this opportunity to help put Americans back to work in innovative, good-paying jobs to improve the health of our communities and to help clear the path for people in every hometown in America to live brighter, cleaner, more vibrant lives.
Remarks by Appointee for Deputy White House Climate Coordinator, Ali Zaidi
Thank you President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.
I am deeply honored to answer your call to serve this nation that I love, especially at this moment of consequence.
For our planet and the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident.
But we can also see the promise in the jobs — casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations and building new industries.
And in the possibility of repairing communities hurt places where the pollution has been heavy, and opportunity has never quite reached.
Mr. President-elect & Madam Vice President-elect, you campaigned on delivering that promise by mounting a response equal to this existential threat, not only by listening to the science, but also by invigorating the economy. Revving up manufacturing and innovation, spurring good-paying union jobs and advancing justice — long overdue.
Leading by the example of America at its best.
When my parents moved from Pakistan to Pennsylvania, they brought two little kids — and a few suitcases of dreams.
Dreams their kids are living today:
Danish, my brother: a doctor on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, and me: moving to frontlines of the fight against climate change.
To be healthy, to have purpose, and to be able to give back — that is how our parents taught us to define the American Dream.
I am so grateful to be serving alongside the team you have assembled.
Grateful for Gina McCarthy, my guide and good friend, for the incredible and inspiring leaders on this stage, and for those with whom we’ll partner all across your administration.
This has been a trying year for all Americans — marked by so much loss. But throughout, you have been there for us.
And when the pandemic hit closer to home, you were there for me.
Mr. President-elect, that is who you are. A person of faith and family, decency and goodness.
Your leadership gives me hope.
My students, scientists imagining and inventing, give me hope
Young organizers, mobilizing and advocating, give me hope
And together, I know: We will meet this moment.
Remarks Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
A few months ago, as wildfires raged across the West, I traveled home to California.
What I saw on that trip — and so many others in recent years — was heartbreaking.
Homes and neighborhoods in ashes.
Firefighters battling fires, while their own homes burned to the ground.
Some of the most toxic air, anywhere in the world.
Two years ago, in 2018, when I visited communities like Paradise that had been devastated by wildfires, that year’s fire season was considered the worst in California’s history.
This fire season was even worse. The worst in California’s history — and America’s history.
And of course, fires are only one symptom of our growing climate crisis.
In recent years, families across the Midwest have experienced historic flooding, while families along our coasts have endured some of the most active hurricane seasons on record.
They only name a storm if it’s particularly dangerous. This year, we had more named storms than ever before.
Our climate crisis is not a partisan issue.
And it is not a hoax.
It is an existential threat to all of us, particularly poor communities and communities of color who bear the greatest risks from polluted air, polluted water, and a failing infrastructure.
Years ago, when I was District Attorney in San Francisco, I created the first environmental justice unit in the city — and one of the first in our country.
Because I believe that everyone has a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
So does the president-elect.
Part of the reason I was so proud to join him as his running mate was because he was proposing one of the most ambitious climate plans in history.
A plan to secure carbon-pollution free electricity by 2035.
A plan to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050.
A plan to invest in a clean energy future, and create millions of good-paying, union jobs, along the way.
And the team that President-elect Biden and I are announcing today will help make that plan a reality.
They are some of our country’s most seasoned public servants and climate experts.
They have experience mastering the most effective ways to get things done when it comes to climate change.
They recognize the importance of bringing the private sector and organized labor together with government to meet this challenge, and confront this crisis head-on with our allies and partners around the world.
And they are compassionate leaders who understand that, ultimately, addressing climate change is about building safer communities, and healthier communities, and thriving communities, for all Americans.
These public servants reflect the very best of America.And they are the team we need to meet this urgent challenge.
In his 2015 encyclical, the Holy Father Pope Francis wrote — quote: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”
Starting on January 20th, we will work to heed those words and come together, here in our country and around the world, to build and protect our common home for generations to come.
While Trump continues to deny climate change as a “hoax” (one perpetrated by China to hurt US business), minimize the destruction to life and livehood of the wildfires setting the West ablaze that he blamed on California’s “failure” to adequately rake the forest floor, actively denigrate public health experts while promoting conditions for the super-spread of coronavirus, and call for Obama to be jailed for treason, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out on the urgency to address the existential climate crisis and how he would address it.
“The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us…It requires action, not denial. It requires leadership, not scapegoating…
“Our response should be grounded in science. Acting together. All of us. But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions…
“But if Trump gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.
“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? ..
“And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.
“Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
“It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.”
Here is a highlighted transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks as prepared for delivery in Delaware:
As a nation, we face one of the most difficult moments in our history. Four historic crises. All at the same time.
The worst pandemic in over 100 years, that’s killed nearly 200,000 Americans and counting.
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that’s cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting.
Emboldened white supremacy unseen since the 1960s and a reckoning on race long overdue.
And the undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change and its impact on our planet and our people — on lives and livelihoods — which I’d like to talk about today.
Jill and I continue to pray for everyone in California, Oregon, Washington, and across the West as the devastating wildfires rage on — just as we’ve held in our hearts those who’ve faced hurricanes and tropical storms on our coasts, in Florida, in North Carolina, or like in parts of New Orleans where they just issued an emergency evacuation for Hurricane Sally, that’s approaching and intensifying; Floods and droughts across the Midwest, the fury of climate change everywhere — all this year, all right now.
We stand with our families who have lost everything, the firefighters and first responders risking everything to save others, and the millions of Americans caught between relocating during a pandemic or staying put as ash and smoke pollute the air they breathe.
Think about that.
People are not just worried about raging fires. They are worried about breathing air. About damage to their lungs.
Parents, already worried about Covid-19 for their kids when they’re indoors, are now worried about asthma attacks for their kids when they’re outside.
Over the past two years, the total damage from wildfires has reached nearly $50 Billion in California alone.
This year alone, nearly 5 million acres have burned across 10 states — more acres than the entire state of Connecticut.
And it’s only September. California’s wildfire season typically runs through October.
Fires are blazing so bright and smoke reaching so far, NASA satellites can see them a million miles away in space.
The cost of this year’s damage will again be astronomically high.
But think of the view from the ground, in the smoldering ashes.
Loved ones lost, along with the photos and keepsakes of their memory. Spouses and kids praying each night that their firefighting husband, wife, father, and mother will come home. Entire communities destroyed.
We have to act as a nation. It shouldn’t be so bad that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking if doomsday is here.
I know this feeling of dread and anxiety extends beyond just the fires. We’ve seen a record hurricane season costing billions of dollars. Last month, Hurricane Laura intensified at a near-record rate just before its landfall along Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
It’s a troubling marker not just for an increased frequency of hurricanes, but more powerful and destructive storms. They’re causing record damage after record damage to people’s homes and livelihoods.
And before it intensified and hit the Gulf Coast, Laura ravaged Puerto Rico — where, three years after Hurricane Maria — our fellow Americans are still recovering from its damage and devastation.
Think about that reality.
Our fellow Americans are still putting things back together from the last big storm as they face the next one.
We’ve also seen historic flooding in the Midwest — often compounding the damages delivered by last year’s floods that cost billions dollars in damage.
This past spring Midland, Michigan experienced a flood so devastating — with deadly flash flooding, overrunning dams and roadways, and the displacement of 10,000 residents — that it was considered a once-in-500-year weather event.
But those once-in-many-generations events? They happen every year now.
The past ten years were the hottest decade ever recorded. The Arctic is literally melting. Parts are on fire.
What we’re seeing in America — in our communities — is connected to that.
With every bout with nature’s fury, caused by our own inaction on climate change, more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, on coastlines and farmlands.
It is happening everywhere. It is happening now. It affects us all.
Nearly two hundred cities are experiencing the longest stretches of deadly heat waves in fifty years. It requires them to help their poor and elderly residents adapt to extreme heat to simply stay alive, especially in homes without air conditioning.
Our family farmers in the Midwest are facing historic droughts.
These follow record floods and hurricane-speed windstorms all this year.
It’s ravaged millions of acres of corn, soybeans, and other crops. Their very livelihood which sustained their families and our economy for generations is now in jeopardy. How will they pay their bills this year? What will be left to pass on to their kids?
And none of this happens in a vacuum.
A recent study showed air pollution is linked with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.
Our economy can’t recover if we don’t build back with more resiliency to withstand extreme weather — extreme weather that will only come with more frequency.
The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us. But too often the brunt falls disproportionately on communities of color, exacerbating the need for environmental justice.
These are the interlocking crises of our time.
It requires action, not denial.
It requires leadership, not scapegoating.
It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.
Because here’s the deal.
Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid “blue states.” Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way.
The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon.
And our response should be the same. Grounded in science. Acting together. All of us.
But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions.
I’m speaking from Delaware, the lowest-lying state in the nation, where just last week the state’s Attorney General sued 31 big fossil fuel companies alleging that they knowingly wreaked damage on the climate.
Damage that is plain to everyone but the president.
As he flies to California today, we know he has no interest in meeting this moment.
We know he won’t listen to the experts or treat this disaster with the urgency it demands, as any president should do during a national emergency.
He’s already said he wanted to withhold aid to California — to punish the people of California — because they didn’t vote for him.
This is yet another crisis he won’t take responsibility for.
The West is literally on fire and he blames the people whose homes and communities are burning.
He says, “You gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests.”
This is the same president who threw paper towels to the people of Puerto Rico instead of truly helping them recover and rebuild.
We know his disdain for his own military leaders and our veterans.
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of our military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused the record fires, record floods, and record hurricanes.
But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump warns that integration is threatening our suburbs. That’s ridiculous.
But you know what’s actually threatening our suburbs?
Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest. And hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coasts.
If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze?
If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?
We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here, and, unless we take urgent action, will soon be more catastrophic.
A president who recognizes, understands, and cares that Americans are dying.
Which makes President Trump’s climate denialism — his disdain of science and facts — all the more unconscionable.
Once again, he fails the most basic duty to this nation.
He fails to protect us.
And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.
What he doesn’t get is that even in crisis, there is nothing beyond our capacity as a country.
And while so many of you are hurting right now, I want you to know that if you give me the honor of serving as your President, we can, and we will, meet this moment with urgency and purpose.
We can and we will solve the climate crisis, and build back better than we were before.
When Donald Trump thinks about climate change he thinks: “hoax.”
I think: “jobs.”
Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work building a stronger, more climate resilient nation.
A nation with modernized water, transportation and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather and a changing climate.
When Donald Trump thinks about renewable energy, he sees windmills somehow causing cancer.
I see American manufacturing — and American workers — racing to lead the global market. I also see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and gaining new sources of income in the process.
When Donald Trump thinks about LED bulbs, he says he doesn’t like them because: “the light’s no good. I always look orange.”
I see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing award-winning energy conservation measures.
This will reduce the electricity consumption and save businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
While he turns us against our allies, I will bring us back into the Paris Agreement. I will put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change. And I will challenge everyone to up the ante on their climate commitments.
Where he reverses the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards, he picks Big Oil companies over the American workers.
I will not only bring the standards back, I will set new, ambitious ones — that our workers are ready to meet.
And I also see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country and American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
Not only that, the United States owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles — and we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in the United States of America.
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century. Not to mention the positive benefits to our health and our environment.
We need to get to work right away.
We’ll need scientists at national labs and land-grant universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to improve and innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them. We’ll need iron workers and welders to install them.
And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
We know how to do this.
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, and weatherized more than a million homes.
We will do it again — bigger and faster and better than before.
We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over — by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.
There are thousands of oil and natural gas wells that the oil and gas companies have just abandoned, many of which are leaking toxins.
We can create 250,000 jobs plugging those wells right away — good union jobs for energy workers. This will help sustain communities and protect the environment as well.
We’ll also create new markets for our family farmers and ranchers.
We’ll launch a new, modern day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.
I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right.
That’s true of the millions of families struggling with the smoke created by these devastating wildfires right now.
But it’s also been true for a generation or more in places — like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans — especially Black, Brown, and Native American communities, who too often don’t have clean air and clean water — is not going to be easy.
But it is necessary. And I am committed to doing it.
These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable policies that create jobs, mitigate climate change, and put our nation on the road to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
Some say that we can’t afford to fix this.
But here’s the thing.
Look around at the crushing consequences of the extreme weather events I’ve been describing. We’ve already been paying for it. So we have a choice.
We can invest in our infrastructure to make it stronger and more resilient, while at the same time tackling the root causes of climate change.
Or, we can continue down the path of Donald Trump’s indifference, costing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild, and where the human costs — the lives and livelihoods and homes and communities destroyed — are immeasurable.
We have a choice.
We can commit to doing this together because we know that climate change is the existential challenge that will define our future as a country, for our children, grandchildren, and great-children.
Or, there’s Donald Trump’s way — to ignore the facts, to deny reality that amounts to full surrender and a failure to lead.
It’s backward-looking politics that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, and hold back economic progress while other countries race ahead.
And it’s a mindset that doesn’t have any faith in the capacity of the American people to compete, to innovate, and to win.
Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
It requires a president for all Americans.
So as the fires rage out West on this day, our prayers remain with everyone under the ash.
I know it’s hard to see the sun rise and believe today will be better than yesterday when America faces this historic inflection point.
A time of real peril, but also a time of extraordinary possibilities.
I want you to know that we can do this.
We will do this.
We are America.
We see the light through the dark smoke.
We never give up.
May God bless our firefighters and first responders.
In the latest of a series of defined programs under the “Build Back Better” banner, Biden has issued his “Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future” in which he proposes a $2 trillion accelerated investment plan to “set us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.” Biden’s plan was immediately “answered” by Trump issuing new rules to obliterate environmental review, what he terms “right-size” federal environment, to greenlight development while cutting off localities’ ability to stop or mitigate the impacts. Compare and contrast.–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future
At this moment of profound crisis, we have the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy – one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050. Joe Biden will seize that opportunity and, in the process, create millions of good-paying jobs that provide workers with the choice to join a union and bargain collectively with their employers.
President Trump has a devastating pattern of denying science and leaving our country unprepared and vulnerable. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he ignored public health experts, praised the Chinese government, and failed to take the actions needed to protect the American people. And as the crisis accelerated, Trump rolled back environmental standards that protect public health — adding to the 100 similar environmental and public health protections he has rolled back since taking office — even though early data suggests a link between exposure to pollution and serious negative health impacts from the virus.
Just as with COVID-19, Donald Trump has denied science and failed to step up in the face of the climate crisis. He has called it a hoax. He has allowed our infrastructure to deteriorate and farmers’ fields to flood. He has held back American workers from leading the world on clean energy, giving China and other countries a free pass to outcompete us in key technologies and the jobs that come with them. And instead of supporting more tax credits that keep solar and wind workers employed here at home, Trump showered tax cuts on multinational companies that encourage offshoring. His actions have not only set us back in terms of progress on environmental justice and clean energy jobs, they have made us more vulnerable – weaker and less resilient – as a nation.
Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan ensures that – coming out of this profound public health and economic crisis, and facing the persistent climate crisis – we are never caught flat-footed again. He will launch a national effort aimed at creating the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future.
The current coronavirus crisis destroyed millions of American jobs, including hundreds of thousands in clean energy. It has exacerbated historic environmental injustices. And all this comes at a moment when the science tells us there is no time for delay on climate change. Biden will immediately invest in engines of sustainable job creation – new industries and re-invigorated regional economies spurred by innovation from our national labs and universities; commercialized into new and better products that can be manufactured and built by American workers; and put together using feedstocks, materials, and parts supplied by small businesses, family farms, and job creators all across our country.
We need millions of construction, skilled trades, and engineering workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy. These jobs will create pathways for young people and for older workers shifting to new professions, and for people from all backgrounds and all communities. Their work will improve air quality for our children, increase the comfort of our homes, and make our businesses more competitive. The investments will make sure the communities who have suffered the most from pollution are first to benefit — including low-income rural and urban communities, communities of color, and Native communities. And, Biden’s plan will empower workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with their employers as they rebuild the middle class and a more sustainable future. Biden will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.
Biden will make far-reaching investments in:
Infrastructure: Create millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure – from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems to electricity grids and universal broadband – to lay a new foundation for sustainable growth, compete in the global economy, withstand the impacts of climate change, and improve public health, including access to clean air and clean water.
Auto Industry: Create 1 million new jobs in the American auto industry, domestic auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure, from parts to materials to electric vehicle charging stations, positioning American auto workers and manufacturers to win the 21st century; and invest in U.S. auto workers to ensure their jobs are good jobs with a choice to join a union.
Transit: Provide every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments with strong labor protections that create good, union jobs and meet the needs of these cities – ranging from light rail networks to improving existing transit and bus lines to installing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Power Sector: Move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This will enable us to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.
Buildings: Upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years, creating at least 1 million good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union; and also spur the building retrofit and efficient-appliance manufacturing supply chain by funding direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances and install more efficient windows, which will cut residential energy bills.
Housing: Spur the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units.
Innovation: Drive dramatic cost reductions in critical clean energy technologies, including battery storage, negative emissions technologies, the next generation of building materials, renewable hydrogen, and advanced nuclear – and rapidly commercialize them, ensuring that those new technologies are made in America.
Agriculture and Conservation: Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including 250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines – providing good work with a choice to join or continue membership in a union in hard hit communities, including rural communities, reducing leakage of toxics, and preventing local environmental damage.
Environmental Justice: Ensure that environmental justice is a key consideration in where, how, and with whom we build – creating good, union, middle-class jobs in communities left behind, righting wrongs in communities that bear the brunt of pollution, and lifting up the best ideas from across our great nation – rural, urban, and tribal.
Biden will ensure these investments create good, union jobs that expand the middle class. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the choice to join a union and collectively bargain. Biden will include in the economic recovery legislation he sends to Congress a series of policies to build worker power to raise wages and secure stronger benefits. This legislation will make it easier for workers to organize a union and collectively bargain with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. His bill will also go further than the PRO Act by holding company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts. He will also ensure that all companies benefitting from his infrastructure and clean energy investments meet the labor protections in Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, applying and strictly enforcing Davis-Bacon prevailing wage guidelines, and that those benefiting from transportation investments meet transit labor protections so that new jobs are good-paying jobs with family sustaining benefits. And, as called for in his plan to strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions, Biden will require that companies receiving procurement contracts are using taxpayer dollars to support good American jobs, including a commitment to pay at least $15 per hour, provide paid leave, maintain fair overtime and scheduling practices, and guarantee a choice to join a union and bargain collectively.
Biden will ensure these jobs are filled by diverse, local, well-trained workers – including women and people of color – by requiring federally funded projects to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements and employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs. Biden will make investments in pre-apprenticeship programs and in community-based and proven organizations that help women and people of color access high-quality training and job opportunities. Biden’s proposal will make sure national infrastructure and clean energy investments create millions of middle-class jobs that develop a diverse and local workforce and strengthen communities as we rebuild our physical infrastructure.
Biden also reaffirms his commitment to fulfill our obligation to the workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and decades of economic growth, as outlined in his original climate plan. This includes securing the benefits coal miners and their families have earned, making an unprecedented investment in coal and power plant communities, and establishing a Task Force on Coal and Power Plant Communities.
The key elements of the Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future include:
1. Build a Modern Infrastructure 2. Position the U.S. Auto Industry to Win the 21st Century with technology invented in America 3. Achieve a Carbon Pollution-Free Power Sector by 2035 4. Make Dramatic Investments in Energy Efficiency in Buildings, including Completing 4 Million Retrofits and Building 1.5 Million New Affordable Homes 5. Pursue a Historic Investment in Clean Energy Innovation 6. Advance Sustainable Agriculture and Conservation 7. Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economy Opportunity
1. BUILD A MODERN INFRASTRUCTURE
Biden will create millions of good, union jobs building and upgrading a cleaner, safer, stronger infrastructure – including smart roads, water systems, municipal transit networks, schools, airports, rail, ferries, ports, and universal broadband access – for all Americans, whether they live in rural or urban areas.
Americans deserve infrastructure they can trust: infrastructure that is resilient to floods, fires, and other climate threats, not fragile in the face of these increasing risks. We need infrastructure that supports healthy, safe communities, rather than locking in the cumulative impacts of polluted air and poisonous water. And we need infrastructure, like universal broadband, that unleashes innovation and shared economic progress and educational opportunity to every community, rather than slowing it down.
Biden will rely on American union labor and American-made materials and products to build this infrastructure. He will create jobs in planning and management, from architects to engineers to designers. And, he will invest in the pre-development, development, and construction of this new and necessary infrastructure, building it in places and with the advanced materials – like clean steel and cement – in a way that promotes the livability of our communities and the accessibility of opportunity. Biden will create good, union jobs that expand the middle class by:
Transforming our crumbling transportation infrastructure – including roads and bridges, rail, aviation, ports, and inland waterways – making the movement of goods and people faster, cheaper, cleaner, and manufactured in America while preserving and growing the union workforce. Biden will also transform the energy sources that power the transportation sector, making it easier for mobility to be powered by electricity and clean fuels, including commuter trains, school and transit buses, ferries, and passenger vehicles. The resulting reduction in air pollution will save thousands of lives and millions in medical costs burdening families.
Sparking the second great railroad revolution. Biden will make sure that America has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world — for both passengers and freight. His rail revolution will reduce pollution, connect workers to good union jobs, slash commute times, and spur investment in communities that will now be better linked to major metropolitan areas. To speed that work, Biden will tap existing federal grant and loan programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and improve and streamline the loan process. In addition, Biden will work with Amtrak and private freight rail companies to further electrify the rail system, reducing diesel fuel emissions.
Revolutionizing municipal transit networks. Most Americans do not have access to high-quality and zero-emissions options for affordable, reliable public transportation; and where transit exists, it’s often in need of repair. As a result, workers and families rely on cars and trucks, which can be a big financial burden and clog roadways. Biden will aim to provide all Americans in municipalities of more than 100,000 people with quality public transportation by 2030. He will allocate flexible federal investments with strong labor protections to help cities and towns install light rail networks and improve existing transit and bus lines. He’ll also help them invest in infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of e-scooters and other micro-mobility vehicles and integrate technologies like machine-learning optimized traffic lights. And, Biden will work to make sure that new, fast-growing areas are designed and built with clean and resilient public transit in mind. Specifically, he will create a new program that gives rapidly expanding communities the resources to build in public transit options from the start.
Ensuring clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities – rural to urban, rich and poor – investing in the repair of water pipelines and sewer systems, replacement of lead service pipes, upgrade of treatment plants, and integration of efficiency and water quality monitoring technologies. This includes protecting our watersheds and clean water infrastructure from man-made and natural disasters by conserving and restoring wetlands and developing green infrastructure and natural solutions.
Expanding broadband, or wireless broadband via 5G, to every American – recognizing that millions of households without access to broadband are locked out of an economy that is increasingly reliant on virtual collaboration. Communities without access cannot leverage the next generation of “smart” infrastructure. As the COVID-19 crisis has revealed, Americans everywhere need universal, reliable, affordable, and high-speed internet to do their jobs, participate equally in remote school learning and stay connected. This digital divide needs to be closed everywhere, from lower-income urban schools to rural America, to many older Americans as well as those living on tribal lands. Just like rural electrification several generations ago, universal broadband is long overdue and critical to broadly shared economic success.
Cleaning up and redeveloping abandoned and underused Brownfield properties, old power plants and industrial facilities, landfills, abandoned mines, and other idle community assets that will be transformed into new economic hubs for communities all across America.
Revitalizing communities in every corner of the country so that no one is left behind or cut off from economic opportunities. Biden’s plan will ensure that our infrastructure investments work to address disparities – often along lines of race and class – in access to clean air, clean water, reliable and sustainable transportation, connectivity to high-speed internet, and access to jobs and educational opportunities. This includes ensuring tribes receive the resources and support they need to invest in roads, clean water, wastewater, broadband, and other essential infrastructure needs. It also means funding investments in local and regional strategies to prevent a lack of transportation options in urban, rural, and high-poverty areas from cutting off after-school opportunities for young people and job opportunities for workers seeking better jobs and more economic security for their families.
2. POSITION THE AMERICAN AUTO INDUSTRY TO WIN THE 21ST CENTURY
Eleven years ago, Joe Biden helped save the auto industry. Today, the industry once again faces a crisis. Not only has Trump overseen a manufacturing recession on his watch, but through neglect and failed trade policies, he has allowed China to race ahead in the competition to lead the auto industry of the future. China is on track to command more than four times the global market share compared to the U.S. in electric vehicle production, even as the Chinese government’s approach threatens to slow down or set back the long-term prospects of clean vehicle innovation.
As called for in his Plan to Ensure the Future is Made in All of America by America’s Workers, Biden will use all the levers of the federal government, from purchasing power, R&D, tax, trade, and investment policies to reverse this trend and position America to be the global leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles and their input materials and parts. Biden will vigorously enforce trade rules in response to currency manipulation, overcapacity, and Chinese government abuses in this sector. Here at home, he will spur an expansion of factory floors and a re-tool of existing manufacturing capacity, and create 1 million new jobs in auto manufacturing, auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure. And he’ll ensure those workers have good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union. Between 1979 and 2018, American workers have increased their productivity by 70%, while their real wages have only grown by 12% — in large part due to the decline in union density. Biden will reverse this trend, by ensuring that auto workers have jobs with strong labor standards and working to pass the PRO Act to ensure auto workers can more easily choose to join a union and bargain collectively with their employers. Leveraging the remarkable talents of U.S. auto workers, he will position the auto industry to win the 21st century.
Use the power of federal procurement to increase demand for American-made, American-sourced clean vehicles. As part of his historic commitment to increasing procurement investments, Biden will make a major federal commitment to purchase clean vehicles for federal, state, tribal, postal, and local fleets, making sure that we retain the critical union jobs involved in running and maintaining these fleets. By providing an immediate, clear, and stable source of demand, this procurement commitment will help to dramatically accelerate American industrial capacity to produce clean vehicles and components, while accelerating the upgrade of the 3 million vehicles in these fleets.
Encourage consumers and manufacturers to go clean. Senators Schumer, Stabenow, Brown, and Merkley, alongside organizations like the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and leading environmental groups, crafted a Clean Cars For America proposal. Biden will build on their leadership by providing consumers rebates to swap old, less-efficient vehicles for these newer American vehicles built from materials and parts sourced in the United States. These rebates will be accompanied by significant new targeted incentives for manufacturers to build or retool factories to assemble zero-emission vehicles, parts, and associated infrastructure here at home.
Make major public investments in automobile infrastructure — including in 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations — to create good jobs in industries supporting vehicle electrification. These investments are a key part of Biden’s commitment to reinvent the American transportation system from the factory line to the electric vehicle charging station, while promoting strong labor, training, and installation standards. This includes ensuring the workforce is trained in high quality training programs like the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP).
Accelerate research on battery technology and support the development of domestic production capabilities. The Chinese government, along with other countries, has used state subsidies and industrial strategies to advance its interests. America must accelerate its own R&D with a focus on developing the domestic supply chain for electric vehicles. A specific focus of Biden’s historic R&D and procurement commitments will be on battery technology – for use in electric vehicles and on our grid, as a complement to technologies like solar and wind – increasing durability, reducing waste, and lowering costs, all while advancing new chemistries and approaches. And Biden will ensure that these batteries are built in the United States by American workers in good, union jobs.
Set a goal that all new American-built buses be zero-emissions by 2030, which will create significant demand for the manufacturing of new, clean American-built buses utilizing American-manufactured inputs – and accelerate the progress by converting all 500,000 school buses in our country — including diesel — to zero emissions. Biden will ensure that the existing — and future — workforce is trained and able to operate and maintain this 21st century infrastructure.
Establish ambitious fuel economy standards that save consumers money and cut air pollution. Biden will negotiate fuel economy standards with workers and their unions, environmentalists, industry, and states that achieve new ambition by integrating the most recent advances in technology. This will accelerate the adoption of zero-emissions light- and medium duty vehicles, provide long-term certainty for workers and the industry and save consumers money through avoided fuel costs. Paired with historic public investments and direct consumer rebates for American-made, American-sourced clean vehicles, these ambitious standards will position America to achieve a net-zero emissions future, and position American auto workers, manufacturers, and consumers to benefit from a clean energy revolution in transport.
3. CREATE MILLIONS OF JOBS PRODUCING CLEAN ELECTRIC POWER FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES
Transforming the U.S. electricity sector – and electrifying an increasing share of the economy – represents the biggest job creation and economic opportunity engine of the 21st century. These jobs include every kind of worker from scientists to construction workers to electricity generation workers to welders to engineers. Existing iron casting and steel fabrication plants will have new customers in the solar and wind industries. Workers with experience welding and installing complex wiring will have new job opportunities. Properties idled in communities left behind, like brownfields, will once again become critical hubs for the growth of our economy. If we move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity, while building the infrastructure to electrify major sectors of our economy, we will meet the existential threat of climate change, create millions of good union jobs; make economic growth more accessible in every state and across Indian Country, and lead the world in inventing, manufacturing, and exporting clean energy technologies. Biden will:
Marshal an historic investment in energy efficiency, clean energy, electrical systems and line infrastructure that makes it easier to electrify transportation, and new battery storage and transmission infrastructure that will address bottlenecks and unlock America’s full clean energy potential– built by American workers, using American-made materials. This revolution in the way we power our economy will leverage the breakthroughs we have already seen in distributed and large-scale renewables, onshore and offshore. And it will put welders, electricians, and other skilled labor to work in good union jobs installing the electrical systems and line infrastructure that helps the power sector – the electricity we generate at our power plants, on our roofs, and in our communities – reach a bigger market of customers and, at the same time, makes it easier for us to electrify in buildings, certain industrial processes, and transportation.
Reform and extend the tax incentives we know generate energy efficiency and clean energy jobs; develop innovative financing mechanisms that leverage private sector dollars to maximize investment in the clean energy revolution; and establish a technology-neutral Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) for utilities and grid operators. Paired with his historic, front-loaded investments in the power sector, Biden’s EECES will cut electricity bills and cut electricity pollution, increase competition in the market and incentivize higher utilization of assets – and achieve carbon-pollution free energy in electricity generation by 2035. Biden will scale up best practices from state-level clean energy standards, which are being implemented in a way that provides renewable credits to developers that follow high labor standards, including through Project Labor and Community Labor Agreements and paying prevailing wages. Together, these steps will unleash a clean energy revolution in America, create good paying union jobs that cannot be outsourced, and spur the installation of millions of solar panels – including utility-scale, rooftop, and community solar systems – and tens of thousands of wind turbines – including thousands of turbines off our coasts – in Biden’s first term. It would also mean continuing to leverage the carbon-pollution free energy provided by existing sources like nuclear and hydropower, while ensuring those facilities meet robust and rigorous standards for worker, public, environmental safety and environmental justice.
Leverage existing infrastructure and assets. To build the next generation of electric grid transmission and distribution, Biden will prioritize re-powering of lines that already exist with new technology. He will take advantage of existing rights-of-way – along roads and railways – and cut red-tape to promote faster and easier permitting. And he will leverage the breakthroughs we have secured in energy storage over the last decade with historic procurement and investments to bring the future within reach for big utilities and rural cooperatives alike. In addition, and in line with recommendations by climate experts, including a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Biden will double down on federal investments and tax incentives for technology that captures carbon and then permanently sequesters or utilizes that captured carbon, which includes lowering the cost of carbon capture retrofits for existing power plants — all while ensuring that overburdened communities are protected from increases in cumulative pollution. He’ll also ensure that the market can access green hydrogen at the same cost as conventional hydrogen within a decade – providing a new, clean fuel source for some existing power plants.
4. UPGRADE THE BUILDING SECTOR: RETROFITTING BUILDINGS, UPGRADING SCHOOLS, AND BUILDING HOMES ACROSS AMERICA
Creating 1 million jobs upgrading 4 million buildings and weatherizing 2 million homes over 4 years. Biden will make an historic investment in energy upgrades of homes, offices, warehouses, and public buildings. This will be a win on multiple levels. It will create at least 1 million construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs, make the places we live, work, and learn healthier, and reduce electricity bills for families, businesses, and local governments. It will improve indoor air quality and indoor environmental health, thus making our buildings safer in the face of future pandemics. At this moment of crisis, when many offices and municipal buildings are shuttered and millions of skilled Americans are out of work, we have a unique, once in a generation opportunity to deliver cost-efficient retrofits in communities across the country.
Biden’s plan to upgrade 4 million commercial buildings will return almost a quarter of the savings from those retrofits to cash-strapped state and local governments. This includes mobilizing a trained and skilled American workforce to manufacture, install, service and maintain high-efficiency LED lighting, electric appliances, and advanced heating and cooling systems that run cleaner and less costly – all manufactured in the United States.
For families, Biden’s plan will include direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances, install more efficient windows, and cut residential energy bills. Biden will also significantly expand weatherization efforts, reaching over 2 million homes within 4 years, including slashing the disproportionately high energy burden for low-income rural households and rural communities of color.
Biden will also repair the building code process with the goal of establishing building performance standards for existing buildings nationwide and support this effort with new funding mechanisms for states, cities, and tribes to adopt strict building codes and labor standards to ensure quality and predictability.
Paired with legislation to set a new net-zero emissions standard for all new commercial buildings by 2030, these steps and critical investments in the Build Back Better Plan will accelerate progress to Joe Biden’s target of cutting the carbon footprint of our national building stock in half by 2035.
Launching a major, multi-year national effort to modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities. For most American children, their public school is like a second home. It should be a place that makes them feel safe and healthy. Yet, American public school facilities received a grade of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers. In fact, each year the U.S. underfunds school infrastructure by $46 billion, leaving school districts responsible for the majority of construction costs and pushing long-term debt into the billions nationwide. And by not investing in the infrastructure of our public schools, too many schools are outdated, unsafe, unfit, and – in some cases – making kids and educators sick. Biden’s Build Back Better commitment includes a national effort to upgrade America’s schools and early learning facilities. In line with the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, backed by the House Education and Labor Committee, Biden will make an historic investment to improve public school buildings, with resources weighted to those lower-income rural and urban schools — all too often in communities of color — where the poor quality of school buildings is an additional barrier to equal educational opportunity. Those funds will be deployed with a set of priorities in mind: healthy kids, climate resilience, and creating greater educational equity and job creation in underserved communities. First and foremost, those funds will be used to address health risks, such as improving indoor air quality and ventilation and ensuring access to clean water, so that going to school or working at one never makes anyone sick. Second, additional funding will be used to build cutting-edge, energy-efficient, innovative, climate resilient campuses, which not only have the schools with technology and labs to prepare our students for the jobs of the future, but also become themselves the places that provide communities with green space, clean air, and places to gather, especially during emergencies. He’ll also upgrade child care and early learning facilities around the country that are not safe or developmentally appropriate for young children, who are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants like lead and mold, and to safety hazards like electrical outlets. Biden’s investments will catalyze thousands of good, union jobs, drawing those workers from the communities most in need of economic development. These investments mean work for local businesses and support for local school districts to reduce capital costs, allowing them to spend more on teaching, learning, and other essential needs to support educators and ensure students are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.
Spurring the construction of 1.5 million homes and public housing units to address the affordable housing crisis, increase energy efficiency, and reduce the racial wealth gap. Biden is building on his housing plan by further increasing the level of federal investment in new affordable, accessible housing construction — including homes for low-income Americans, minority communities, veterans, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. He will ensure these homes are energy efficient from the start – saving the families who live there up to $500 per year. Biden will also drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of affordable housing and small business creation. And, he’ll incentivize smart regional planning that connects housing, transit, and jobs, improving quality of life by cutting commute times, reducing the distance between living and leisure areas, and mitigating climate change.
5. PURSUE A HISTORIC INVESTMENT IN CLEAN ENERGY INNOVATION
A major focus of Biden’s commitment to increase federal procurement by $400 billion in his first term will be purchasing the key clean energy inputs like batteries and electric vehicles that will help position the U.S. as the world’s clean energy leader. And, as part of Biden’s historic commitment to accelerate R&D investment on a scale well beyond the Apollo-program, he will focus on strategic research areas like clean energy, clean transportation, clean industrial processes, and clean materials over the next four years. This funding will drive large-scale innovation in the industries of the future and create new partnerships to empower a generation of entrepreneurs, engineers, and skilled trade workers in all parts of the United States. Biden will invest these new dollars in a way that ensures sustained and sustainable job and small business growth in all parts of America – facilitating the formation of regional ecosystems of innovation, investing in the future of manufacturing communities, playing to each region’s strengths, and pulling in people from diverse backgrounds and skills. These investments will not only help us recover from the economic consequences of the Trump Administration’s dangerous decisions, they will help America build back better – an economy that is less vulnerable to shocks and better able to bounce back from future threats. As part of this effort, Biden will:
Create a new Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate, a new, cross-agency ARPA-C to target affordable, game-changing technologies to help America achieve our 100% clean energy target, including:
grid-scale storage at one-tenth the cost of lithium-ion batteries;
advanced nuclear reactors, that are smaller, safer, and more efficient at half the construction cost of today’s reactors;
refrigeration and air conditioning using refrigerants with no global warming potential;
zero net energy buildings at zero net cost, including through breakthroughs in smart materials, appliances, and systems management;
using renewables to produce carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen from shale gas through innovation in technologies like next generation electrolyzers;
decarbonizing industrial heat needed to make steel, concrete, and chemicals and reimagining carbon-neutral construction materials;
decarbonizing the food and agriculture sector, and leveraging research in soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground; and
capturing carbon dioxide through direct air capture systems and retrofits to existing industrial and power plant exhausts, followed by permanently sequestering it deep underground or using it to make alternative products like cement.
Accelerate innovation in supply-chain resilience by investing in research to bolster and build critical clean energy supply chains in the United States, addressing issues like reliance on rare earth minerals.
Invest in our national laboratories, high-performance computing capabilities, and the design and construction of other critical infrastructure at and around those national laboratories and the regional innovation ecosystems and economies that they support.
Strengthen land-grant universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and other minority serving institutions (MSIs), expanding facilities, targeting grants, and supporting the training of talent.
6. INVEST IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND CONSERVATION
Mobilizing the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through a Civilian Climate Corps. Biden will put a new, diverse generation of patriotic Americans to work conserving our public lands, bolstering community resilience, and addressing the changing climate, while putting good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans, including women and people of color. This initiative will be complemented by a new generation of scientists and land managers committed to ecological integrity and natural climate solutions. These workers will use sound, science-based techniques to thin and sustainably manage our forests, making them more resilient to wildfire and enhancing their carbon intake and habitat integrity; restore wetlands to protect clean water supplies and leverage greater flood protection; repair dilapidated irrigation systems to conserve water; plant millions of trees to help reduce heat stress in urban neighborhoods; protect and restore coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands, seagrasses, oyster reefs, and mangrove and kelp forests, to protect vulnerable coastlines, sequester carbon, and support biodiversity and fisheries; enhance the carbon intake of natural and working lands, wetlands, reefs, and underwater mangrove and kelp forests; remove invasive species; improve wildlife corridors; build hiking and biking trails and access to other recreational amenities; and reinvigorate landscapes and seascapes, unlocking economic and climate resilience in places like the Great Lakes, the Everglades, our nation’s great river systems including the Colorado River, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Creating more than a quarter million jobs immediately to clean up local economies from the impacts of resource extraction. Biden will direct a front-loaded investment to immediately address the backlog of remediation, reclamation, and restoration needs left behind by the CEOs whose corporations failed to meet their responsibilities to the communities where they operated. Across the country, there are several million unplugged, orphaned, and abandoned oil and gas wells that pose ongoing climate, health, and safety risks in communities. The oil, methane and brine that leaks from these wells contaminates the air and water, and the problem is only getting worse. In addition to these wells, tens of thousands of former mining sites for extraction of coal, hardrock minerals, and uranium are causing ongoing environmental damage including to local surface and groundwater supplies. By making an immediate up-front investment, Biden will create more than 250,000 good jobs with a choice to join a union to plug these oil and gas wells and to restore and reclaim these abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines. This program will create jobs for skilled technicians and operators in some of the hardest hit communities in the country, while reducing leakage of toxic chemicals, methane, and other wastes and preventing local environmental damage. Biden will also hold companies accountable for the environmental damage of their operations, including by clawing back golden parachutes and executive bonuses for companies that shift the environmental burdens of their actions onto taxpayers.
Standing up for our farms and ranches. Our family farmers and ranchers were already fighting an uphill battle because of Trump’s irresponsible trade policies and consistent siding with oil lobbyists over American growers, but COVID-19 has placed new pressures on that sector and the rural economies it sustains. Biden will bring back America’s advantage in agriculture, create jobs, and build a bright future for rural communities by investing in the next generation of agriculture and conservation; providing opportunities to new farmers and ranchers, including returning veterans and minorities, to enter the economy; and making it easier to pass farms and ranches onto the next generation, and:
Helping farmers leverage new technologies, techniques, and equipment to increase productivity and profit – including by providing low-cost finance for the transition to new equipment and methods, funding research and development in precision agriculture and new crops, and a establishing a new voluntary carbon farming market that rewards farmers for the carbon they sequester on their land and the greenhouse gas emission reductions, including from methane, that they secure. These efforts to partner with farmers will help them tap into develop new income streams as they tackle the challenge of sequestering carbon, reducing emissions, and continue their track record as global leaders in agricultural innovation. Instead of making things harder for farmers, Biden will stand with them as they fight against the threats of climate change, droughts, flooding and extreme weather, while partnering with them to make American agriculture the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.
Pursuing smarter pro-worker and pro-family-farmer trade policies – knowing the difference between strong and effective trade enforcement and the self-defeating strategy Donald Trump has pursued. Biden will help farmers compete instead of crushing them.
Bolstering the security and resilience of our food supply, including by leveraging precision agriculture through regional demonstration projects to minimize the impacts of drought.
Making sure small and medium-sized farms and producers have access to fair markets where they can compete and get fair prices for their products – and requiring large corporations play by the rules instead of writing them – by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Investing in diverse farmers to make our agriculture sector stronger and more resilient. American agriculture is strong in part because of our incredible range of farm types and sizes — and we’ve got to make sure that anyone who wants to serve our country as a farmer can get assistance from USDA. As President, Biden will ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture ends historical discrimination against Black farmers in federal farm programs and that all socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have access to programs that support their family farms.
Expanding protections for farm workers. Farm workers have always been essential to working our farms and feeding our country. As President, Biden will ensure farm workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of immigration status. He will work with Congress to provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history and ensure labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are enforced with respect to these particularly vulnerable working people.
Building on Biden’s rural plan, which includes proposals to re-invest in land grant universities’ agricultural research so the public, not private companies, owns patents to agricultural advances.
7. SECURE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND CREATE EQUITABLE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
Throughout every aspect of Biden’s plan to rebuild a resilient infrastructure and sustainable, clean energy economy, he will prioritize addressing historic, environmental injustice. Biden has a comprehensive environmental justice plan, which includes:
Setting a goal that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of overall benefits of spending in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure. In addition, Biden will directly fund historic investments across federal agencies aimed at eliminating legacy pollution — especially in communities of color, rural and urban low-income communities, and tribal communities — and addressing common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities, such as funds for replacing and remediating lead service lines and lead paint in households, child care centers, and schools in order to ensure all communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments will create good-paying jobs in frontline and fenceline communities.
Creating a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify disadvantaged communities, from urban to rural to tribal communities – including those threatened by the cumulative stresses of climate change, economic distress, racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution. With the power of data – combined with enhanced monitoring of climate emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxics – Biden will enable agencies and the private sector to make investments in the rural, suburban, and urban communities that need them most. In addition, Biden will instruct his Cabinet to prioritize climate change strategies and technologies that reduce traditional air pollution in the disadvantaged communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool.
Ensure that the Biden Administration prioritizes environmental justice issues and holds polluters accountable. Biden will overhaul and update existing programs at the White House, the Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency in order to comprehensively address the most pressing, intersectional environmental justice issues and hold polluters accountable. For example, Biden will ensure that frontline and fenceline communities are at the table when enforcement, remediation, and investment decisions affecting those communities are made. Biden will ensure working groups on these issues report directly into the White House, so that communities facing the dual threat of environmental and economic burdens have access to the highest levels of the Biden Administration. And, Biden will establish a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Justice Department, as proposed by Governor Inslee, to complement the work of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and hold polluters accountable.
In the Orwellian name of “modernizing” and throwing around terms like “right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review,” the Trump Administration is overturning and repealing regulations aimed at protecting the environment and mitigating or reversing climate change. At the same time, he is reducing local communities ability to stop or reduce the environmental impacts of development. “By streamlining infrastructure approvals, we’ll further expand America’s unprecedented economic boom,” Trump stated. On the other hand, he has obstructed approvals of vital infrastructure projects in New York and New Jersey, including the Gateway Tunnels under the Hudson River, and a rail-link from the new and improved LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan.
This is a fact sheet from the White House –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
MODERNIZING ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS: For the first time in 40 years, President Donald J. Trump is taking action to right-size the Federal Government’s environmental review process.
The Trump Administration is issuing a final rule that will modernize and accelerate environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), so that infrastructure can be built in a timely, efficient, and affordable manner.
This marks the end of a multi-year review, which produced more than 1.1 million public comments and involved a broad range of stakeholders.
The final rule modernizes Federal NEPA regulations, including by codifying certain court decisions to clarify NEPA’s application and by expanding public involvement in NEPA reviews through the use of modern technology.
The rule also improves management by incorporating President Trump’s One Federal Decision policy, establishing time limits of two years for completion of environmental impact statements, when required, and one year for completion of environmental assessments.
Together, these common sense reforms will slash unnecessary government bureaucracy and accelerate important infrastructure projects all across the Nation.
STREAMLINING INFRASTRUCTURE APPROVALS: The Federal environmental review process has historically been far too complex, costly, and time consuming.
Since NEPA’s enactment, the environmental review process has been burdensome for both Federal agencies conducting reviews and Americans seeking permits or approvals.
Environmental impact statements average over 650 pages, and it takes Federal agencies on average four and a half years to conduct required reviews.
According to the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental impact statements for highway projects take more than seven years on average and often take a decade or more.
NEPA reviews are also frequently challenged in court, making it very challenging for businesses and communities to plan, finance, and build projects in the United States.
CUTTING RED TAPE: President Trump is reversing years of burdensome overregulation and administrative abuse, simultaneously ensuring meaningful environmental reviews and spurring economic growth.
President Trump is making good on his promise to conduct historic deregulation, removing job killing regulations that have stifled economic growth for far too long.
Already the President has reversed burdensome regulations like the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States rule and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
President Trump also did away with the Obama Administration’s expensive, heavy handed, and job-killing Clean Power Plan, replacing it with the much improved Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.
The President launched his Governors’ Initiative on Regulatory Innovation to cut outdated regulations, put people over paperwork, and align Federal and State regulations.
Under President Trump, the United States has remained a world leader in protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while becoming the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world.
In the midst of economic, unemployment, and climate crises, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, rolled out the second plank of his Build Back Better economic recovery plan for working families: building a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future. In a sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s disregard for working Americans and the consequential climate emergency at hand, Vice President Biden’s plan will create millions of good paying, union jobs for Americans while building sustainable infrastructure and creating an equitable clean energy future.
Here’s what leaders from across the country are saying about Vice President Biden’s plans:
“The plan put forward today by former Vice President Biden will create and sustain the kinds of good-paying, union jobs that provide a ladder to the middle class and make America a leader in manufacturing clean technology, put our nation on a path to doing our part to tackle the climate crisis, rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, and lift up all workers and communities by prioritizing investments in communities of color that have borne the brunt of environmental injustice,” Jason Walsh, the Executive Director BlueGreen Alliance, said in a statement.
“As president of the IBEW, the largest union of electrical workers in the nation, I’m pleased that it will create so many jobs in nearly every sector of the workforce we represent, including construction, utility, telecommunications, manufacturing, and railroad. Joe Biden has made it clear that any new federal investments must support American jobs and American made products,” Lonnie R. Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), said in a statement. “These are vital jobs that our nation needs more than ever… The men and women of the IBEW have been part of American’s clean-energy revolution for years now. We look forward to working with a Biden administration in building a clean and sustainable economy that can both save our planet and help rebuild the American middle class.”
“This ambitious plan is a win-win for American manufacturing, auto industry jobs, new technology and a cleaner environment. By focusing on investments in new technology, increasing demand for American-made and sourced clean vehicles; investing in our plants and our auto manufacturing facilities and creating 1 million new jobs, this all-American plan will ensure that the industry will thrive for decades to come with good paying union jobs,” the United Auto Workers (UAW) said in a statement. “This comprehensive plan will also increase investment in batteries and charging infrastructure and set fuel economy standards that involve all stakeholders. And this plan will save consumers money and cut air pollution. UAW members are looking to Washington, D.C. to invest in future jobs; new technologies; a world race to cleaner air; and to save consumers their hard-earned money. This plan checks all those boxes.”
“Joe Biden’s climate plan—by a long shot—is the most ambitious we have ever seen from any president in our nation’s history,” Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund, said in a statement. “It will get our economy humming again, and give our children a healthier, more just and more hopeful future. And he has committed to getting started on day one.”
“Vice President Joe Biden’s ambitious new commitments to a clean energy economy, environmental justice, and equitable climate solutions are more important than ever as our nation grapples with the realities of systemic racism, a global pandemic, and the ever growing climate crisis. Biden’s strong climate leadership stands in stark contrast with the Trump administration, which is continuing this week with its full scale assault on environmental and public health protections,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of LCV Action Fund, wrote in a statement. “We applaud Vice President Biden for again making clear with these plans that combatting the climate crisis, fighting for environmental justice and creating millions of good-paying, high-quality jobs in a clean energy economy will be a very top priority on day one as president and every single day.”
“Vice President Biden is right ‘that environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color,’ and his emphasis on addressing those injustices is a critical part of this plan. For too long Black, Latino, as well as low-income neighborhoods have suffered far more than their fair share of pollution and other environmental impacts, with devastating results on the health of the people living there,” said Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President, Political Affairs, EDF Action Fund in a statement. “The Biden Plan couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to four years of failure by the Trump administration. They have weakened limits on climate pollution, undermined scientists, and surrendered international leadership. America can’t afford another four years of a president who claims climate change is a hoax instead of providing leadership. We look forward to working with the Congress and a new administration to finally take real action on climate change.”
“While Donald Trump spreads lies about windmills, tries to block legislative efforts to advance electric vehicles, and ignores the millions of Americans working in clean energy, Joe Biden is presenting a vision to invest in and grow an equitable clean energy economy,” Sierra Club Political Director Ariel Hayes said in a statement. “The Sierra Club is encouraged by Biden’s proposal, which shows he is listening to the continued calls from activists and organizations across the country demanding a bold and ambitious plan that meets the size and scale of the crisis and completes the transition to a clean energy economy.”
“Today I heard from many in the environmental justice movement across the country who were overwhelmed by the Historic Ambitious speech addressing environmental, climate, social, and economic injustice by the Vice President,” said former South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell and Founder of The ReGenesis Project. “We thank you for listening, and announcing one of the boldest climate and environmental justice plans ever presented by a nominee for President.”
“Joe Biden shares DSCEJ’s commitment to build the power of Black communities, harmed by toxic pollution and vulnerable to the climate crisis, to shape the national agenda for achieving environmental justice and climate justice,” said Beverly L. Wright, Ph.D., Executive Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.
“The Biden Environmental Justice Plan is the most targeted and comprehensive plan to address the legacy of environmental racism and the continuing ambivalence regarding environmental quality in communities of color that has been proposed by a potential presidential nominee,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice based in Harlem, New York,” said Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “When I was chair of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to the EPA I witnessed the total disregard of Title 6 administrative complaints by the EPA’s Civil Rights division, and the lack of accountability or reporting on environmental justice progress by the EJ Interagency Council which was mandated to develop plans to address environmental degradation in EJ communities. The Biden plans’ initiative to mandate a report card on progress to the White House is another important proposal to establish accountability which has been absent.”
“It’s encouraging to see former Vice President Biden release an environment, climate , economic and energy plan that places justice and health at the center,” said Dr. Robert. D. Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Texas Southern University, widely regarded as the father of the environmental justice movement. “Given the converging and multiple threats faced by low-income, people of color, and vulnerable communities today, I like the fact the plan calls for an inclusive and All-of-Government approach in setting policy and legislative priorities and a framework for targeting resources to address underlying systemic conditions that create and perpetuate racial and economic inequality and unequal protection.”
“This is a truly historic moment in Presidential candidate history. Environmental Justice elders are being heard and together we can, and we will forge a new pathway for this country to live up to its ideals of justice for all!” said Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Executive Director, Center for Earth, Energy & Democracy; Inaugural Signer of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform; and Co-Chair, Biden for President Climate Engagement Advisory Council.
“We strongly applaud the Biden campaign for taking an ambitious, comprehensive approach to climate change policy that recognizes the renewable energy industry’s ability to grow America’s economy towards a cleaner environment and a more prosperous and equitable future,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association in a statement. “As our country strives to recover from the global pandemic, racial injustices, and economic recession, this is the right moment to grow the investments and good-paying American jobs associated with renewable energy development, including the significant economic benefits, lower cost electricity bills, and diverse community support that wind energy brings to rural parts of the country.”
“I think this plan out of Joe Biden is really visionary. It’s about investing in the technologies of the future and it certainly does deploy a lot of the work that the big three are already doing here in Detroit — and expands upon that and builds that out even further,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “Autonomous vehicles, vehicles of the future, electric vehicles — these are the industries we’ve got to make investments in, that we’ve got to grow, and that will make our environment cleaner and be a much longer-term type of investment for the people of this country. I was excited to hear Joe Biden’s plan today.”
”This is exactly the bold vision for the future that we need in our country,” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. “What I love about what Joe Biden is proposing is that it’s about making it here, it’s about using it here, it’s about tackling the climate crisis in a way that creates new, clean energy jobs and does it in a way that provides opportunity for everyone and addresses parts of our communities that have been hardest hit by that pollution and the inequalities involved. “
“I’ve spent my time in public service fighting for environmental justice and for workers‘ rights so people who work hard can forge a better life for themselves. I know these two issues go hand in hand. So does my friend, Joe Biden. His clean energy jobs plan, with a strong environmental justice focus, proves it,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
“VP Biden has chosen a bold path to get America to energy and environmental security and confront the existential challenge of climate change with bold and realistic solutions,” said former Senator and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
Here is the plan:
The Biden Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity in a Clean Energy Future
The current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color – allowing systemic shocks, persistent stressors, and pandemics to disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.
Joe Biden is running for President to ensure that all Americans have a fair shot at getting ahead. That means rooting out the systemic racism in our laws, policies, institutions, and hearts. Any sound energy and environmental policy must advance public health and economic opportunity for all Americans, in rural, urban, and suburban communities, and recognize that communities of color and low-income communities have faced disproportionate harm from climate change and environmental contaminants for decades. It must also hold corporate polluters responsible for rampant pollution that creates the types of underlying conditions that are contributing to the disproportionate rates of illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 among Black, Latino, and Native Americans. That means officials setting policy must be accountable to the people and communities they serve, not to polluters and corporations.
Addressing environmental and climate justice is a core tenet of Biden’s climate plan. Biden will:
Use an inclusive and empowering All-of-Government approach;
Make decisions that are driven by data and science;
Target resources in a way that is consistent with prioritization of environmental and climate justice; and
Assess and address risks to communities from the next public health emergency.
USE AN INCLUSIVE AND EMPOWERING, ALL-OF-GOVERNMENT APPROACH
Our nation’s environmental justice policy was developed more than twenty years ago and no longer addresses the needs of the present or future. In order to clean up our communities and provide new opportunities to those that have been disproportionately burdened by pollution and economic and racial inequality, Biden will revise and reinvigorate the 1994 Executive Order 12898 (EO 12898) on Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. Specifically, Biden will:
Establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department (DOJ) in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences, perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. Biden will direct his EPA and DOJ to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited. Going beyond the ambitious proposals that the Biden plan for a clean energy revolution already includes, the Biden Administration will establish a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the DOJ, as proposed by Governor Inslee, to complement the work of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. In line with the new Division’s mandate, Biden will instruct the Attorney General to: (i) implement, to the extent possible by executive action, Senator Booker’s Environmental Justice Act of 2019; (ii) increase enforcement, in line with the commitments already detailed in the Biden Plan; (iii) strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters; (iv) address legacy pollution that includes real remedies to make communities safe, healthy, and whole; and (v) work hand-in-hand with EPA’s Office of Civil Rights.
Elevate environmental justice in the federal government and modernize the all-of-government approach. Currently, the federal government has two key environmental justice groups. Biden will elevate and reestablish the groups as the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, both reporting directly to the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), who reports directly to the President. To support this work, Biden’s CEQ will also have senior and dedicated environmental justice staff. These two councils will be charged with revising EO 12898 in order to address current and historic environmental injustice, in collaboration with local environmental justice leaders. And, they will be tasked with developing clear performance metrics to ensure accountability in the implementation of the Executive Order. Once the revised EO is finalized, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council will publish an annual public performance score-card on its implementation.
Overhaul the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office. For too long, the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office has ignored its requirements under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That will end in the Biden Administration. Biden will overhaul that office and ensure that it brings justice to frontline communities that experience the worst impacts of climate change and fenceline communities that are located adjacent to pollution sources, beginning with the following actions: (i) revisit and rescind EPA’s decision in Select Steel and its Angelita C. settlement, which allowed state environmental agencies to issue dangerous permits, and to conduct its business in a way that harmed communities; (ii) conduct a rulemaking and open a public comment process to seek Americans’ input on agency guidance for investigating Title VI Administrative complaints; and (iii) work with Congress to empower communities to bring these cases themselves, by reinstituting a private right of action to sue Title VI, which was written out in the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Alexander v. Sandoval.
MAKE DECISIONS DRIVEN BY DATA AND SCIENCE
President Trump denies science and disempowers experts in the federal government. Biden will choose science over fiction, ensuring we make data-driven decisions when it comes to environmental justice.
Building on EPA’s EJSCREEN tool, developed in the Obama-Biden Administration, and lessons learned at the state level, Biden will charge the newly elevated White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, in close consultation with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, to create a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify communities threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution. To ensure that information is accessible and transparent, the Screening Tool will be used to publish annual maps in multiple languages that identify disadvantaged communities; including disproportionately burdened tribal areas. In addition, since too often low-income and communities of color lack air quality monitors and are, as a result, unaware of unsafe pollution levels that threaten their health, Biden will:
Mandate new monitoring in frontline and fenceline communities. Biden will ensure that the federal government recommends that each state adequately monitors environmental pollution, including emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxics, in frontline and fenceline communities. This will include installing new monitors where they are lacking to provide accurate and publically-available real-time data. Biden will also create a new environmental public health corps that boosts communities’ capacity to use this data meaningfully.
Establish interagency teams to address targeted issues and partner directly with communities. Biden will also establish an Interagency Climate Equity Task Force to directly work to resolve the most challenging and persistent existing pockets of climate inequity in frontline vulnerable communities and tribal nations. This work includes addressing the challenge of lack of access to credit and capital for many local governments and small businesses owned by and located in environmental justice communities. Biden will rely on the leadership of these communities to identify what they need most. The Biden Administration will let community leaders lead by investing in community self-determination, marshalling federal resources to support local leaders and organizations, and directly funding capacity building — from critical tools to talent — to arm the creativity of local leaders and help them build back better.
Biden will also:
Tackle water pollution in a science-based manner. Biden will focus on improving water quality in a comprehensive way. For example, it is estimated that up to 110 million American’s drinking water could be contaminated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a suite of chemicals that cause a host of health issues, including cancer, and are found in states from Michigan and Wisconsin to Colorado and New Hampshire. Instead of making empty promises with no follow-through, Biden will tackle PFAS pollution by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance, setting enforceable limits for PFAS in the Safe Drinking Water Act, prioritizing substitutes through procurement, and accelerating toxicity studies and research on PFAS. In addition, Biden will accelerate the process to test for and address the presence of lead in drinking water and housing, in line with the CDC’s determination and in partnership with labor, and state, local, and tribal governments. Biden will also help protect rural communities from water and air pollution and make water bills affordable for low-income communities, rural Americans, and tribes through targeted state revolving funds and Rural Utility Service funding for disadvantaged communities.
Prioritize strategies and technologies that reduce traditional air pollution in disadvantaged communities. Biden will direct his Cabinet to prioritize the climate strategies and technologies that most improve public health. He will also direct his Office of Science and Technology Policy to publish a report within 100 days identifying the climate strategies and technologies that will result in the most air and water quality improvements and update analytical tools to ensure that they accurately account for health risk and benefits. Finally, Biden will recommend that every state prioritize emission reductions within the disadvantaged communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool in their state-level air quality plans.
TARGET RESOURCES CONSISTENT WITH THE PRIORITY THAT ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE REPRESENTS
The Biden plan already commits to providing low-income and communities of color preference in competitive grant programs. Today, Biden commits to go even further and target 40% of his historic investment in a clean energy revolution to disadvantaged communities. Building on the ambitious New York State climate law, Biden will:
Target relevant investments with the goal of delivering 40% of the overall benefits from those investments to disadvantaged communities, specifically:
Targeting investments made through programs related to clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure; and
Utilizing the results of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to help identify these disadvantaged communities, which are threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution.
In addition, Biden will directly fund historic investments across federal agencies aimed at eliminating legacy pollution – especially in communities of color, rural and urban low-income communities, and indigenous communities. Biden will also address common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities, such as funds for replacing and remediating lead service lines and lead paint in households, daycares, and schools in order to ensure all communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments will create good-paying union jobs and help to build infrastructure that is resilient to the impacts of climate change in frontline and fenceline communities.
ASSESS AND ADDRESS RISKS TO COMMUNITIES FROM THE NEXT PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY
As a country, we must do a better job to prepare for and prevent public health emergencies, particularly in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental stressors. The link between climate change and health security is well-documented – climate change creates a growing threat to Americans and hits low-income and communities of color the hardest. We must heed the warning signs from the current pandemic and prepare all communities. Building on The Biden Plan to Combat Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prepare For Future Global Health Threats, Biden will take the following actions to minimize the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided:
Create a National Crisis Strategy to address climate disasters that prioritizes equitable disaster risk reduction and response. The Trump Administration’s lack of preparedness and failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced that the next President must develop a science-based, national climate crisis strategy to support states, tribes, and territories. The next President must ensure the efficient and equitable allocation of disaster risk reduction-related resources and that we build back better after climate-related disasters. Building on Senator Markey’s Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, Biden will use a whole-of-government approach to develop a national climate crisis strategy for each type of climate disaster that the National Climate Assessment warns will put Americans at risk (e.g., heat waves, sea level rise, wildfire, air pollution, infectious disease, hurricane, and floods). And, in line with recommendations from the American Lung Association, Biden will provide additional CDC grants to every state and territory to work with their local health departments to develop climate disaster mitigation plans.
Establish a Task Force to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable. The Biden Department of Health and Human Services will lead a Task Force to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable including disadvantaged and frontline communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. The Task Force will identify the health impacts of climate change that will pose the largest risk to the most vulnerable populations and work across the Department and with other agencies to use a whole-of-government approach to decrease those risks, including baseline health inequities. In addition, this Task Force will be charged with developing a ready-to-deploy recovery strategy that ensures adequate housing for individuals displaced by climate disasters.
Establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at HHS and Launch an Infectious Disease Defense Initiative. In order to fully prepare for and minimize the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided, Biden will establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity in the Office of the Secretary of HHS, modeled after the Office of AIDS Research that was created in 1983, and invest in surveillance, early-warning systems, and research to decrease climate change and health equity risks. This new HHS Office, in collaboration with the CDC, will partner with the Department of Defense to predict the infectious diseases with the highest probability of being exacerbated by climate change, evaluate their population risk, and work with additional federal agencies to accelerate the development of vaccines or other mitigation measures that reduce the risk to Americans.
Improve the resilience of the nation’s health care system and workers in the face of natural disasters. Building on guidelines published in the Obama-Biden Administration, Biden will establish a biennial Health Care System Readiness Task Force, a public-private task force to assess the current state of the nation’s health care system resilience to natural disasters and recommend strategies and investments to improve it, which will include participation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The evaluation will include an assessment of both physical health care infrastructure and the frontline health care workforce, including opportunities to provide workforce development opportunities in disadvantaged communities. In order to inform the Readiness Task Force, beginning in 2021, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in coordination with the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Security Council will publish a declassified, annual report identifying the type, likelihood of occurrence, and locations at the highest risk, and potential impacts of natural disasters in the United States.