This year alone, 90 communities set records for their highest temperatures, including the Arctic and Antarctic, while 100 million Americans are under extreme heat advisories this week, President Joe Biden said in a speech on Wednesday.
The president stood in front of what used to be the coal-powered Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, and announced executive action that will attempt to curb climate change.
‘Code red’ for humanity
Although the president did not declare a federal state of emergency, he remarked that the state of the country is an emergency, and that he is going to treat it as one.
The United Nations’ leading international climate scientist stated that the most recent climate report was a “code red for humanity,” Biden said.
He added that climate change related issues cost the country $145 billion in damage last year. “Ravaging” droughts that used to occur every 100 years are now happening every few years, and wildfires are burning millions of acres across the West, spanning areas larger than the size of New Jersey, he said.
“Our national security is at stake as well. Extreme weather is already damaging our military installations here in the states and our economy is at risk,” Biden stated. “So we have to act before extreme weather disrupts supply chains, causing delays and shortages for consumers and businesses. Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world.”
Manchin splits an evenly divided Senate
These remarks come after Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., refused to back a Democratic economic package that includes spending to curb climate change and taxing wealthy individuals and corporations to fund the legislation, The Washington Post originally reported.
Manchin stated that his decision was made because he believes Americans are more concerned about inflation. “Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1 percent,” according to a spokesperson for Manchin.
On a West Virginia radio show, Manchin said last week that he would be open to supporting climate spending only if the economy indicates improvement within the next month, the Post reported.
The Biden administration reacts
In response to Manchin’s decision, and in an attempt to fulfill his campaign promises to take action against climate change, the president addressed the nation on Wednesday.
“Today, President Biden will reiterate that climate change is a clear and present danger to the United States. Since Congress is not acting on this emergency, President Biden will,” the White House said in a statement.
During Wednesday’s address, Biden detailed what his administration plans to do as a result of this proposed executive action.
FEMA climate spending package: As a part of this executive action, the president announced a $2.3 billion FEMA funding plan for the “Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities” program for the 2022 fiscal year.
- The funding is intended to set up communities across the U.S. with proper infrastructure to combat and adapt to climate-related changes.
- “This funding will help communities increase resilience to heat waves, drought, wildfires, flood, hurricanes, and other hazards by preparing before disaster strikes,” the White House said.
Curb cooling costs: As temperatures rise, another section of the executive action would lower cooling costs for areas of the U.S. experiencing extreme heat.
- The Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance that expands on how the Low Income Energy Assistance Program can deliver air conditioning equipment to homes and community cooling centers across the country.
- These efforts will be supported by $385 million the administration released through LIHEAP in April, as a part of the president’s $8 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Renewable energy: Biden also plans to expand wind energy efforts and create jobs as a result of those projects near the Gulf of Mexico and in the Southeast.
- These efforts are an attempt to meet a goal set by the president to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.