Biden to expand climate push with heat preparedness, offshore wind shifts
President Biden and White House officials announced new measures on Wednesday to help protect communities from extreme heat and boost offshore wind projects — and promised that more executive efforts would come soon.
Why is this important: The White House is seeking to show that Biden’s climate agenda remains intact even as important clean energy investment legislation looks nearly dead on Capitol Hill.
The big picture: “I have a responsibility to act with urgency and determination when our nation faces a clear and present danger. And that is what this is about,” Biden said in a speech in Somerset. , in Massachusetts, which referred to the ongoing heat waves in the United States and other weather-related damage.
- He said “Congress is not acting the way it should.”
- “This is an emergency and I will see it that way… In the coming days, my administration will announce the executive actions we have developed to address this emergency,” Biden added.
- Biden spoke at the site of a closed coal-fired power plant that is set to become a manufacturing site for undersea cables used for offshore wind power.
- The framework aims to highlight the economic benefits of transitioning from fossil fuels to climate-friendly energy sources.
Driving the news: The White House announced $2.3 billion through FEMA to help communities prepare for heat waves, wildfires, drought and other extremes made worse by climate change, aides said. of the White House.
- Other measures will include new federal guidelines that help the long-running Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) better meet cooling needs – through the purchase and delivery of air conditioning units. , community cooling centers and more – in addition to heating costs.
- A senior administration official told reporters that the LIHEAP guidelines were to “calibrate them to this new climate reality.” The move comes as more than 100 million people are subject to heat warnings and advisories in the United States.
- The Interior Department said Wednesday it had identified hundreds of thousands of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for potential wind power leasing and invited the public to comment on them.
- In addition, a White House summary indicates that Biden is also directing the Interior to “advance the development of wind energy in the waters off the central and southern Atlantic coast and the Gulf Coast of Florida – alleviating the uncertainty created by the previous administration”.
- This follows prior federal approval of two large offshore wind projects off Massachusetts and New York, and other moves to turn coastal wind from a nascent industry into a major energy source in the states. -United.
Threat level: Despite executive branch efforts, analysts say without further congressional action, the US will likely fall well short of President Biden’s Paris Agreement target to cut emissions by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.
What we are looking at: Biden is under pressure from some activists and Senate Democrats to officially declare a “climate emergency” that would unlock more executive powers.
- White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that no emergency declaration was planned this week, but confirmed that the idea was on the table.
The plot: Emergency declarations are not magic wands, but give presidents an expanded suite of tools.
- The many options include accelerating the permitting and siting of clean energy projects and curbing fossil fuel production and/or exports, research firm ClearView Energy Partners said in a statement. a rating.
- “If the president pursues a pre-election climate emergency, it may have more to do with green building than fossil fuel shutdowns (due to energy price concerns),” ClearView said.