SOMERSET, Mass. — President Joe Biden modestly announced new steps on Wednesday to fight climate change and pledged to take stronger action, saying, “This is an emergency situation and I will view it that way.”
However, the president stopped declaring a formal climate emergency, which Democrats and environmental groups were seeking after an influential Democratic senator rejected hopes for sweeping legislation to tackle global warming. Biden hinted that such a move could be coming.
“Let me be clear,” Biden said. “Climate change is an emergency and in the coming weeks I will be using the power I have as president to translate these words into formal, official government action through the proper proclamations, executive orders and regulatory power that a president possesses.”
Biden made his promise at a former coal-fired power station in Massachusetts. The former Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, is shifting into offshore wind power production, and Biden chose it as the epitome of the clean energy transition he’s been seeking, but struggled with in the first 18 months of his presidency. has been able to realize.
Executive actions announced Wednesday will strengthen the domestic offshore wind industry in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast, as well as expand efforts to help communities cope with rising temperatures through programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the ministry said. of Health and Human Services and other agencies.
The journey comes as historic temperatures bake Europe and the United States. Temperatures reached 115 degrees in Portugal as wildfires raged in Spain and France, and Britain on Tuesday shattered its record for the highest temperature ever recorded. At least 60 million Americans could experience triple-digit temperatures in the coming days, as cities across the US sweat from more intense and prolonged heatwaves that scientists blame for global warming.
Calls for a national emergency declaration to tackle the climate crisis have increased among activists and Democratic lawmakers after Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., last week sank talks over a long-delayed legislative package.
White House officials have said the option remains under consideration. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to outline a timetable for a decision on Tuesday, aside from saying no such order would be issued this week.
Gina McCarthy, Biden’s climate adviser, said Biden is not shy about treating the climate as an emergency.
“The president wants to make sure we do it right, we explain it and we have the time we need to work this out,” she told reporters on Air Force One.
sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said he was “confident that the president is ultimately ready to do whatever it takes to deal with this crisis.”
“I think he made that clear in his statement last Friday, and I think coming to Massachusetts is a further articulation of that purpose,” Markey told reporters on Tuesday.
A climate emergency would allow the president to redirect federal resources to support renewable energy programs that would help accelerate the transition from fossil fuels. The statement could also be used as a legal basis to block oil and gas drilling or other projects, though such actions would likely be challenged in court by energy companies or Republican-led states.
Such a statement would be similar to that of Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who declared a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border when lawmakers refused to allocate funds for that effort.
Biden pledged last week to take major climate executive action after months of discussions between Manchin and Senate leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., ground to a halt. The West Virginia senator cited stubbornly high inflation as the reason for his hesitation, though he has long been protecting energy interests in his coal and gas-producing state.
For now, Manchin has said he will only agree to a legislative package that will support grants to help people buy insurance under the 2010 health law and allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices that will ultimately reduce the cost of drugs to consumers. to lower.
The White House has said it wants Congress to accept that deal, and Biden will tackle the climate problem alone.
The former Brayton Point power station closed in 2017 after burning coal for more than five decades. The plant will now be an offshore wind energy site.
A new report says the US and other major carbon-polluting countries are failing to deliver on their promises to fight climate change. Of the top 10 carbon emitters, only the European Union has adopted policies close to or in line with international targets to limit warming to just a few tenths of a degree, according to scientists and experts leading climate action in countries to follow.
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