On climate change, Biden $3.5T plan making up for lost time

Sep 28, 2021, 1:11 AM | Updated: 10:23 pm
FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden tours a neighborhood impacted by Hurri...

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden tours a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Ida in Manville, N.J. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., looks on at right. Surveying damage from California wildfires to hurricane-induced flooding in Louisiana and New York Biden said America must get serious about the “code red” danger posed by global warming. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Joe Biden visited one disaster site after another this summer — from California wildfires to hurricane-induced flooding in Louisiana and New York — he said climate change is “everybody’s crisis” and America must get serious about the “code red” danger posed by global warming.

In many ways, the president is making up for lost time.

Biden and Democrats are pursuing a sweeping $3.5 trillion federal overhaul that includes landmark measures to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in what would be the most consequential environmental policies ever enacted, after years of fits and starts.

Sidelined after the former administration withdrew from the landmark Paris climate accord — the 2015 global effort to confront climate change — the U.S. has returned to the arena, with Biden promising world leaders in April that the U.S. would cut carbon pollution in half by 2030.

But following through on Biden’s climate goals depends in large part on passage of the Democratic package, and it will take the White House’s heft to close the deal between centrist and progressive lawmakers, including disputes over its climate provisions.

“That’s where he earns his legacy,” Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said of Biden.

As Democrats rush to finish a package that touches almost all aspects of American life, the proposals related to climate change are proving to be a sticking point, particularly among key centrist lawmakers.

The president met separately Tuesday with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona as Democrats chip away at the package’s overall price tag and marshal support. With Republicans in lockstep against the plan, Democrats have few votes to spare as they try to pass it on their own.

“This is Speaker Pelosi’s grand socialist agenda to destroy freedom and embolden our enemies on the backs of American families,´´ said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers of Washington state, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce panel.

Yet, for many Democrats, and voters who elected them — the climate provisions are among the most important elements of the sweeping bill. A poll last month by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows 83% of Democrats are very concerned about climate change, compared with just 21% of Republicans.

“This is a ‘code red’ moment, but Democrats are answering the call,” said Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Florida, chairwoman of a special House committee on climate change.

“Our only hope to avoid catastrophe is to act with urgency — to act now,” Castor said Tuesday at the Capitol. She called climate change “a clear and present danger to American families who are facing brutal heat waves, devastating floods, failed electric grids and historic wildfires.”

The Democratic plan will make historic investments in clean energy, climate resilience and environmental justice, she said. “We have to get this right.”

Included in the massive legislation is a nationwide clean-electricity program that is intended to eliminate climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035 — catching up to requirements already set in some states.

The proposal would spend billions to install 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and upgrade the power grid to make it more resilient during hurricanes and other extreme weather events that are increasing and intensifying as a result of climate change.

The measure also would create a New Deal-style Civilian Climate Corps to unleash an army of young people to work in public lands and restoration projects.

“The climate crisis is here, and the cost of inaction is already staggering,” said Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone, D-N.J. The U.S. had 22 climate and weather disasters in 2020 with losses exceeding $1 billion each. Hurricane Ida and other recent disasters are likely to cost tens of billions more.

A slimmer $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill the House is set to consider Thursday addresses some of these priorities, with money for climate resiliency, water system upgrades and other provisions.

But progressive Democrats say a far more comprehensive approach is needed if the U.S is to have a chance to achieve Biden’s goal of cutting the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in half, leaving both packages at a standstill as talks continue behind the scenes.

“It’s about the livability of this planet,´´ said Huffman, a progressive caucus member who said Democrats were “unwilling to just be steamrolled on that.”

But Manchin has said he will not support a number of clean energy and climate provisions. As the powerful chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin has vowed to protect jobs in his coal and gas-producing state and said the price tag for the Democratic bill is too high. Manchin said after the White House meeting he did not give Biden a new topline figure.

Manchin and Sinema are not alone in raising objections. Seven House Democrats from Texas said provisions in the Democratic plan could cost thousands of jobs in the energy industry and increase energy costs for Americans.

“These taxes and fees, as well as the exclusion of natural gas production from clean energy initiatives, constitute punitive practices,´´ the Texas lawmakers said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The letter was signed by Reps. Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez, Lizzie Fletcher, Sylvia Garcia, Marc Veasey, Filemon Vela and Colin Allred.

Overall, the Biden package aims to provide more than $600 billion to tackle climate change and lower greenhouse gas emissions, funded in large part by taxes on corporations, the wealthy and other fees, keeping to Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000 a year.

One alternative for raising revenues would be to impose a carbon tax. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Monday he is developing legislation “that would make polluters pay for the costs of the climate crisis.”

But Wyden and others are mindful of Biden’s pledge not to hit pocketbooks of Americans and the senator said the carbon tax is being developed as part of a menu of options for consideration.

Environmental groups have hailed the overall package, calling it a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

“Investing in new clean energy technologies is one of the best things we can do to create good jobs for regular people right now while reaping long-term benefits and a healthier planet for decades to come,” said Matthew Davis of the League of Conservation Voters.

The clean-energy standard alone could create millions of jobs, while driving the U.S. electricity sector toward zero-carbon emissions, Davis and other advocates said.

With elections around the corner, approval of the bill is crucial, Democrats say.

“If we miss this moment,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D- R.I., referring to Democratic control of Congress and the White House, “it is not clear when we will have a second chance.”

___

Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this story.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

UN Security Council mission visits Mali, urges February vote

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A U.N. Security Council mission that is visiting Mali this weekend to assess the security situation is urging the country’s authorities to set elections for February to meet agreements reached with a West African regional bloc after a coup last year. The mission led by Kenya’s ambassador to the U.N., Martin […]
13 hours ago
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Timothee Chalamet, left, and Charlotte Rampling ...
Associated Press

Despite hybrid release, ‘Dune’ draws well on the big screen

NEW YORK (AP) — Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” debuted with $40.1 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend in North America, drawing a large number of moviegoers to see the thundering sci-fi epic on the big screen despite it also being available to stream in homes. Warner Bros. launched the Legendary Entertainment production simultaneously in […]
2 days ago
The Bonanza Creek Film Ranch is seen in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.  An assistant dire...
Associated Press

Crew member who gave Baldwin gun subject of prior complaint

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A crew member says she has raised safety concerns in the past about the assistant director who authorities say unwittingly handed actor Alec Baldwin the prop gun that killed a cinematographer on a film set. Crew member Maggie Goll said in a statement that she filed an internal complaint with the […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Philadelphia-area transit union authorized to call strike

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Workers for the Philadelphia-area transit system have voted to authorize a strike next month if an agreement isn’t reached on a new contract. The Transport Workers Union Local 234 said a voice vote at a Sunday morning meeting in south Philadelphia approved a motion to allow union leaders to call a strike […]
2 days ago
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 file photo, British singer Ed Sheeran attends the first ever E...
Associated Press

Ed Sheeran has COVID, will do performances from home

British pop star Ed Sheeran said Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will do interviews and performances from his house while he self-isolates. Sheeran, 30, broke the news on social media days before his new studio album is due out. “Quick note to tell you that I’ve sadly tested positive for Covid, so […]
2 days ago
Migrants, mostly from Central America heading north, sleep on the ground in the Alvaro Obregon comm...
Associated Press

2,000 migrants continue walk through southern Mexico

HUEHUETAN, Mexico (AP) — A group of about 2,000 mainly Central American migrants continued their mass exodus from the southern Mexico city of Tapachula Sunday, reaching a town about 16 miles (26 kms) away. Migrants walked in the early morning, starting out before dawn, to avoid the burning heat. Mostly from Honduras and El Salvador, […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
On climate change, Biden $3.5T plan making up for lost time