ARVADA, Colorado – President Biden warned on Tuesday that the United States had only a decade to deal with a global climate crisis, using his second day of touring a wildfire-ravaged West to attempt to rallying the public, and Democrats in Congress, to support the measures his administration hopes to reduce fossil fuel consumption.
Mr. Biden’s stops this week in Colorado; Boise, Idaho; and Long Beach and the Sacramento area of California represented more than an opportunity to draw attention to the severe destruction of wildfires and other natural disasters that have been exacerbated by climate change. The visits were a final opportunity to sell the importance of measures to mitigate climate change, some of which seem increasingly threatened in its spending programs.
“A drought or a fire doesn’t see a property line,” Biden said during an address at a federal renewable energy lab. “It doesn’t matter which party you belong to. The disasters will not stop. This is the nature of the climate threat. But we know what we have to do. We just need to muster the courage and creativity to do it.
Stressing the urgency, Mr Biden added: “We’re not much over 10 years old.”
Democratic leaders drafting $ 3.5 trillion spending bill struggle to respond to the urgency of Mr Biden’s calls with hindsight from energy lobbyists and some key Democrats, who want an effort much less ambitious than what Mr. Biden has in mind.
On Monday, during a visit to the California Emergency Services office in the Sacramento area, Mr. Biden appeared to recognize him. Before receiving a briefing on the damage caused by the wildfires, he reminded dozens of rescue workers in the conference room that he was unable to include all of his proposed investments to fight climate change. in a bipartite agreement he concluded this summer on infrastructure. He said he was focusing on their inclusion in the larger $ 3.5 trillion package, but acknowledged that this may not live up to his ambitions.
“Whether it passes or not, how much exactly, I don’t know. But we’re going to get it passed, ”Biden said.
The House tax draftsmen have already made some sort of concession on the climate. A bill released earlier this week omits any tax on carbon emissions, even though those revenues could help pay for the giant package, which Democrats plan to pass along party lines and without the support of Republicans. Many Senate Democrats have pushed to include either a direct emissions tax or an indirect tax, such as a tariff on goods imported from high-emission countries like China. But the party is not aligned, and given the low majorities in the House and Senate, such a plan would likely struggle to secure the necessary 50 votes in the Senate.
Centrist concerns about the size and scope of some proposed tax increases could force party leaders to reduce incentives to deploy low-carbon energy in the plan. The same goes for influential Democrats who resisted the party’s previous climate legislation, like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III.
A moderate coal state, Manchin is the chairman of the committee tasked with drafting the Senate version of the bill’s biggest emissions reduction effort: a carrot and stick approach to pushing electric utilities. to derive more electricity from low-carbon products. sources over the next decade.
“The transition is underway,” Manchin said, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “Now they want to pay companies to do what they’re already doing. It doesn’t make sense to me that we take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they’re going to do during the market transition.
He declined to comment further on Tuesday, telling reporters he preferred to negotiate in private. Senate Democrats used a weekly caucus lunch to take stock of efforts to tinker with pieces of legislation during the annual summer recess, though it’s not clear how quickly they would reconcile the differences at the breast and between the two chambers.
Mr Biden used his Western swing to highlight what his aides hope is a call for climate action for those who haven’t embarked on a more aggressive plan. Throughout the trip, Biden heard from emergency officials and governors – including those at odds with the administration over the pandemic and other issues – about the urgent need to deal with natural disasters. Mr Biden told rescue workers in California he recently spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, about the emergency response.
“Some of my more conservative friends -” Mr. Biden said before stopping and resuming, “some of my friends who are less believing in this notion of global warming suddenly have a call for it. altar.”
“They see the Lord,” Mr. Biden said.
When Mr Biden later received his briefing on the fires from officials at the Emergency Services Office, a woman showing him a wildfire map could be overheard saying: ‘That’s why this is. is so important. “
On Tuesday, Mr Biden attended a wind turbine demonstration at the Flatirons campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Arvada, Colo., Then recounted the damage caused by hurricanes and wildfires he saw during trips across the United States this month. He called for tax credits to accelerate the deployment of solar power and electric vehicles and the creation of a civilian climate body to conserve public lands and make them more resilient to climate change.
Mr Biden’s business team did not say whether the president would adopt an emissions tax as part of the package. He refused to accept a Republican proposal to increase the federal gasoline tax to help pay for infrastructure, citing his pledge not to increase income taxes for anyone earning less than $ 400,000. But his administration did not oppose an increase in the tax on cigarettes, which the House has included in its tax plan and which would disproportionately hit those on the lowest incomes.
Administration officials have also not said how far a final deal must go on reducing emissions for Mr Biden to accept. When an Arvada reporter asked if he would sign the $ 3.5 trillion spending package if it included lean measures to tackle climate change, Biden raised his fist. “I am up for more climate measures,” he said.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the deputy senior press secretary, told reporters at Air Force One that Mr. Biden is firmly committed to the climate components of the bill. But, she said, “Biden’s climate agenda is not just about reconciliation or the infrastructure package.”
“We are looking in every sector of the economy for opportunities to create clean energy jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” she said, “especially in the decisive time – in this decisive decade “.
Emily cochrane contributed reports.