ARVADA, Colorado (AP) – President Joe Biden tried to push forward his domestic spending plans in Colorado on Tuesday by warning of the dangers of climate change while stressing how his clean energy proposals would also create jobs though paid.
The trip to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Flatirons Campus outside Denver capped the President’s two-day shift to the West and offered Biden the opportunity to continue to tie the need to pass his spending program to the urgent threat posed by climate change.
“Here’s the good news: Something that’s caused by humans can be fixed by humans,” Biden said. He said the need for a clean energy future was “an economic imperative and a national security imperative” and said there was no time to waste as the impact of climate change appeared to worsen from year to year.
Biden said extreme weather events will cost more than $ 100 billion in damage this year and stressed his goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 while using only carbon-free energy 15 years earlier.
“We can do it, we can do all of this in a way that creates good jobs, cuts costs for consumers and businesses and makes us world leaders,” said the president.
Biden spoke of “more jobs for the economy” on a previous tour as he checked out a giant wind turbine blade on the ground outside the lab and got a demonstration of the wind turbine technology.
And, keenly aware of the delicate work underway in Washington to work out the details of its infrastructure and spending program, he waved to Democratic lawmakers for the tour and said, “They’re the ones who are making it all happen. Congress.”
Biden had spent Monday in Boise, Idaho, and Sacramento, Calif., Receiving information about the devastating wildfire season and seeing the damage the Caldor fire caused to communities around Lake Tahoe.
“We cannot ignore the reality that these wildfires are supercharged by climate change,” Biden said, noting that catastrophic weather does not strike on the basis of partisan ideology. “These are not red or blue states. These are fires. Just fires.
Throughout his journey, Biden has presented the wildfires in the region as an argument for his $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and an additional spending package of $ 3.5 trillion. The president said every dollar spent on “resilience” would save $ 6 in future costs. And he argued that reconstruction must go beyond simply restoring damaged systems and instead ensuring that communities can withstand such crises.
“At the end of the day, these are not red states or blue states. A drought or a fire doesn’t see a property line, ”Biden said. “It doesn’t matter what party you belong to… yes, we are facing a crisis, but we are facing a crisis with unprecedented opportunities. “
The climate provisions of Biden’s plans include tax incentives for clean energy and electric vehicles, investments to shift the economy from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as wind and solar power, and the creation of a civilian climatic body.
Biden has set a goal of eliminating fossil fuel pollution in the electricity sector by 2035 and the U.S. economy as a whole by 2050.
The president’s two-day Western swing comes at a critical time for a central part of his legislative agenda. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are scrambling to piece together the details of the more infrastructure plan – and how to pay for it, a concern that isn’t just for Republicans.
With a unified Republican opposition in Congress, Biden must overcome the skepticism of two key centrist Democrats in the heavily divided Senate. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have expressed concerns about the size of the $ 3.5 trillion spending envelope.
In California, Biden appeared to respond to people concerned about the size of the plan, saying the cost “could” reach $ 3.5 trillion and would be spread over 10 years, a period during which the economy is expected to grow. He also insisted that when it comes to tackling climate change “we have to think big”.
“Thinking small is a prescription for disaster,” he said.
The 100-member Senate is split equally between Democrats and Republicans. Given the strong opposition from the GOP, Biden’s plan cannot pass through the Senate without the support of either Manchin or Sinema. The legislative push comes at a crucial time for Biden, who had seen his poll numbers drop after the United States’ tumultuous exit from Afghanistan and an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant.
Lemire reported from Washington. Associated Press editor Darlene Superville contributed to this report.