President Joe Biden took a victory lap on his climate record during last night’s State of the Union, touting his administration’s major investments in clean energy and resilient infrastructure.
He celebrated the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as the Cut Inflation Act, “the largest investment ever made to tackle the climate crisis “Biden said in front of a packed house. “(It’s) lowering utility bills, creating American jobs, and leading the world toward a clean energy future.”
Biden pointed to efforts to remove lead pipes from approximately 10 million homes, schools and health centers where they are still used for drinking water, an epidemic that disproportionately harms black, Latino and low-income children. He also reiterated his administration’s commitment to install hundreds of thousands of electric vehicle charging stations, introduced new family tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances, and called the record profits made by oil and gas companies last year as Americans struggled with high gas prices.
“The climate crisis doesn’t care if you’re in a red or blue state,” Biden said. “It’s an existential threat. We have an obligation, not to ourselves, but to our children and grandchildren, to confront it. I’m proud of how America is finally rising to the challenge… But there is so much more to do. We have to finish the job.”
But Biden’s speech did not spell out exactly how he plans to do so beyond rolling out those acts already passed, especially as he faces a newly elected Republican majority in the House.
Contrary to its calls for tax reform and protections for Medicaid and Social Security, the State of the Union lacked a clear vision of how its administration hopes to tackle the many climate deadlines looming in the future. last two years of his tenure, from new emissions limits on coal – from power plants and vehicles to efficiency standards for appliances and industry. There is also the issue of delays and staff shortages at the Environmental Protection Agency, and the fear of blocking climate action in federal courts, spurred by a deep bench of conservative justices appointed under the Trump administration.
Jamal Reed is the executive director of Evergreen Action, a Washington state-based climate change policy advocacy organization. Ahead of Tuesday’s speech, Reed told Grist that Biden’s investment had been monumental for the transition to a clean economy, but he agreed there was a lot left on the climate to-do list. DC.
“The IRA and the current baseline don’t get us where we need to meet climate commitments,” Reed said, referring to how the law is expected to cut emissions by 42% by 2030, or 8 % less than what the United States has committed to internationally. Agreements. “We need to push states to move faster than they ever have with these investments. We need to quickly, fairly and effectively implement the Cut Inflation Act and make sure we get those dollars.
Similar to past speeches, Biden has aligned his climate agenda with a goal of returning the country to its former manufacturing glory. He announced his commitment to ensure that all federally funded infrastructure projects use products made in the United States. This Made in America campaign, however, has drawn criticism both in the United States and abroad, with some experts saying it could slow the transition to renewable energy as the country seeks domestic supplies, such as minerals, and manufacturing facilities to support demand.
Opponents of the Biden administration’s emphasis on clean energy have not been so supportive of this vision. In response to last night’s speech, Cathy Rodgers, a Republican representative from Washington who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the president’s “radical green rush agenda” has hurt US energy production and US pocketbooks.
In what looked like a first, Biden slammed the record profits big oil companies made last year, generated amid a global energy crisis spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He lambasted the companies for boosting profits for investors instead of investing in domestic power generation, but made no mention of demanding investments in renewable energy sources or a commitment to reduce the oil production. He also avoided blaming the fossil fuel industry for causing and covering up the crisis.
Ad-libbing the official speech, Biden made it clear that “we’re going to need oil for at least another decade.”