WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — With wildfires raging more frequently in California, an unprecedented deep-freeze that crippled Texas, and more extreme weather battering the country — President Joe Biden says it all adds up to the need for urgent action on climate change.
“There is no more consequential challenge that we must meet in the next decade than the onrushing climate crisis,” Biden said on the campaign trail on July 14, 2020, while unveiling his $2 trillion climate plan.
On his first day in office, Biden moved to bring America back to an international agreement on climate change and halt construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline — two promises his administration has kept.
“We’re going to get back into the Paris Agreement, back into the business of leading the world,” Biden said on July 14, 2020.
On Earth Day, Biden convened a climate summit with 40 other nations where he laid out his plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 50% in this decade and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade,” Biden said at the summit. “This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.”
Critics immediately slammed the pledge, citing a lack of commitment from other countries, like the world’s biggest polluter — China.
“Our colleagues could inflict as many painful policies on American workers and American industries as they want, and still not achieve a significant change in worldwide emissions or global temperatures,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Also in Republican crosshairs is Biden’s $1.9 trillion infrastructure plan.
There is bipartisan support for the traditional rebuilding of crumbling roads, bridges and airports. But Republicans have balked at the plan’s heavy investment in clean energy initiatives.
“Now their so-called infrastructure plan would aim at completely decarbonizing our electric grid, which means hurting our coal and natural gas industries and putting good-paying American jobs into the shredder,” said McConnell.
The Biden administration initially said the plan would create 19 million high-paying, middle-class jobs. It was even dubbed “The American Jobs Plan.” Many of those jobs would be in emerging clean energy industries.
But after criticism that the recovering economy would add 16 million jobs without the measure, the White House had to walk the estimate back to 2.7 million new jobs.
To pay for it, the administration wants a corporate tax hike. The proposed 28% would still be lower than it was in 2017, but Republicans, like Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), are adamant.
“When he talks about raising income taxes on corporations, he’s talking about taxing small business job creators and that’s the worst thing we could do right now,” said Wicker.
However, the bill can pass without Republican votes if there’s enough support from Democrats, like Sen. Joe Manchin, of coal-producing West Virginia.
If Biden’s infrastructure plan, billed as “The New Deal” of this generation, it would be the kind of legacy for which he’d like to be remembered.