Vice President Kamala Harris (2-L) and the President’s Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry (L), watch as U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders after speaking in the State Dining Room about combating climate change, Job creation and the restoration of academic integrity was spoken at at the White House in Washington, DC on January 27, 2021.
Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will table a massive infrastructure proposal on Wednesday to reshape the US economy and build clean energy infrastructure as part of broader efforts to mitigate climate change.
If signed, the proposal would be seen as one of the federal government’s biggest efforts to curb the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and fuel the president’s commitment to getting the country on a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The move, known as the American Jobs Plan, includes $ 174 billion in spending to stimulate the electric vehicle market and move away from gas-powered cars. It is proposed that all lead pipes in the country be replaced and water systems updated to ensure the safety of drinking water.
The government’s plan, which includes non-climate and infrastructure-related measures, is ambitious and could be difficult to implement, even if it passes through both chambers of Congress.
The initiatives include funding to install half a million charging stations across the country by 2030, incentives for Americans to buy electric vehicles, and money to convert factories and improve domestic supplies. Electric cars only make up about 2% of new car sales in the United States
The proposal also provides $ 100 billion in funding to upgrade the country’s power grid and make it more resilient to worsening climate catastrophes like the recent winter storm that caused widespread power outages in Texas.
As global temperatures rise, the US will update aging infrastructure like roads and bridges to be more resilient to weather events like droughts, floods and forest fires. The plan will upgrade millions of households to increase energy efficiency. Efforts are focused on low-income minority communities hardest hit by climate change.
Biden is also proposing the creation of a “Energy Efficiency and Clean Power Standard,” a mandate that requires some of US electricity to come from carbon-free sources such as wind and solar. The mandate would require the approval of Congress.
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The president calls on Congress to invest $ 35 billion in research and development on projects on technologies to help mitigate climate change and create jobs such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, offshore wind, and electric vehicles.
To help fossil fuel workers transition to new jobs, the plan also provides $ 16 billion to employ those workers to plug oil and gas wells and reclaim old coal mines to stem methane leaks. Another $ 10 billion would set up a “Civilian Climate Corps” to employ people to restore land.
Some environmentalists and Liberal Democrats criticized the proposal as insufficient to tackle climate change, citing Biden’s vow to spend $ 2 trillion over four years on transitioning the economy to net zero emissions.
“This is nowhere near enough,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., wrote in a tweet about the infrastructure plan.
Brett Hartl, director of government affairs at the Center for Biodiversity, said Biden’s plan was “industry-friendly” and failed to deliver on the president’s promise to cut emissions and decarbonise the electricity sector.
Other environmental groups praised Biden’s plan to promote clean energy and face the threats posed by worsening climate change disasters.
“President Biden is demonstrating today that he is committed to building a better society for all,” said Mitchell Bernard, President of the Defense Council for Natural Resources, in a statement.
“Congress must now work swiftly to turn this vision into reality by passing laws that invest in clean energy, safe drinking water, public transportation, affordable housing and much more,” said Bernard.
The administration would fund some of the spending by eliminating tax credits and subsidies for fossil fuel manufacturers. Biden plans to fund much of the plan by increasing the corporate tax rate to 28% after the Trump administration cut the levy from 35% to 21% under a tax bill in 2017.