‘I will not take no for an answer’: Biden plans new wind power in Gulf after Congress stalls on climate bill

The president called climate change ‘a clear and present danger’ and lambasted Congress for failing to pass climate legislation

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent, New York
Wednesday 20 July 2022 21:23 BST
Democrats stalled on climate change legislation as millions deal with heat advisories
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President Joe Biden announced more measures to tackle the climate crisis on Wednesday, including new offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico – but he stopped short of declaring a national emergency amid growing calls from Democrats.

The president called climate change “a clear and present danger” and lambasted Congress for failing to pass climate legislation, adding that “not a single Republican” had supported the bill.

“This is an emergency and I will look at it that way,” Mr Biden said during remarks in Somerset, Massachusetts as temperatures soared into the 90s.

“When it comes to fighting climate change, I will not take no for an answer,” the president continued.

The president spoke in the shadow of Brayton Point, an old, coal-fired power plant that is being transformed into a manufacturing hub for undersea cables to support New England’s growing offshore wind industry.

In the absence of congressional action, Mr Biden said that he would use presidential executive powers to tackle the climate crisis, and will announce additional actions in the coming weeks.

Among the plans was $2.3bn to deal with the impacts of extreme heat. The funding will be funnelled to states to create cooling centers, and help vulnerable residents gain access to efficient air conditioning units.

Mr Biden also announced plans to expand offshore wind in the Gulf fo Mexico which has the potential to power over three million homes, according to the White House.

The announcements come as calls grow within Democratic ranks for the president to declare a national climate emergency.

As president, Mr Biden has the power to invoke an emergency, creating an alternative path to cut planet-heating carbon emissions and produce more clean energy without input from Congress.

“If ever there is an emergency that demands ambitious action, climate chaos is it,” read a letter sent to Mr Biden from eight Democratic senators and Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator of Vermont, this week.

We ask that you start by declaring a climate emergency to unlock the broad powers of the National Emergency Act (NEA) and immediately pursue an array of regulatory and administrative actions to slash emissions, protect public health, support national and energy security, and improve our air and water quality,” the senators wrote.

Last week, Mr Biden’s bid to create ambitous climate legislation stalled once again when West Virginia Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin, pulled out of negotiations.

“We cannot allow a single Senator to stall our progress,” the senators’ letter read.

While a climate emergency declaration is a possibility, a potential timeline remains unclear.

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that a declaration would not happen on Wednesday in Massachusetts but that it was part of ongoing discussions.

“Everything is on the table,” Ms Jean-Pierre added.

New York Congresswoman Alexandrio Ocasio-Cortez told The Independent on Tuesday that declaring a climate emergency would be an “essential step” and slammed Senator Manchin’s actions.

“Manchin has paused all action for the United States to act on climate for the last four years,” Rep Ocasio-Cortez said. “So I don’t think he has any authority to speak on climate for the rest of our term here.””

Mr Manchin told senior Democrats last week that he would not support their attempt to push through an economic package this month, which included billions of dollars to fight the climate crisis.

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