Wed. Sep 28th, 2022

President Biden announced new executive actions to address climate change during a visit to a former coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts on Wednesday, but stopped short of declaring a national emergency on climate, as some Democrats have urged as prospects for new legislation in Congress appear increasingly dim.

“My message today is this — since Congress is not acting as it should … this is an emergency,” the president said. “And I will look at it that way. I said last week and I’ll say it again loud and clear. As president, I’ll use my executive powers to combat the climate crisis in the absence of congressional action.” 

The president spoke from the Brayton Point Power Station, now a manufacturing hub for cables supporting Massachusetts’ offshore wind industry. The location was strategic, as the president made the case that shifting away from fossil fuels does not need to mean leaving jobs behind. 

“Many of these fossil fuel plants are becoming sites for new, clean energy construction,” Mr. Biden said. “Others are switching to new clean technologies. Look at Brayton Point. Today, Brayton is one of the frontiers, on the frontier of clean energy in America. On this site, they’ll manufacture 248 miles of high-tech, heavy-duty cables. Those specialized cables are necessary to tie offshore wind farms to the existing grid. Manufacturing these cables will mean good-paying jobs for 250 workers, as many workers as the old power plant had at its peak.” 

The president added, “when I think about climate change, and I’ve been saying this for three years, I think jobs.”

Mr. Biden announced $2.3 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s program to help communities be more resistant to disasters; new guidance to expand the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; and plans to expand offshore wind opportunities in the Gulf Of Mexico, among other initiatives. 

But the president announcement fell short of some progressives’ hope that he would declare a national emergency, particularly following Sen. Joe Manchin’s decision to oppose climate, energy and tax provisions in a Democratic legislative package, effectively dooming the president’s climate agenda in Congress.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had had already said the president wouldn’t be declaring a national emergency on climate this week. 

“He’s not going to just stop with the actions of tomorrow,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. “But I would not plan a announcement this week on national climate emergency. Again, everything is on the table. It’s just not going to be this week on that decision.”

The White House insists the president is exploring everything within his power to address climate change.

“The president ran on fighting the unprecedented economic and national security threat of climate change,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. “He has been taking decisive action to do so since taking office. Tomorrow’s action will be a continuation of that work.”

The White House says the president will announce additional executive actions to address climate change in the days and weeks ahead. 

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