Bi­den’s cli­mate plan would re­vamp en­ergy sec­tor


Joe Bi­den re­leased a plan Tues­day aimed at com­bat­ing cli­mate change and spurring eco­nomic growth in part by over­haul­ing Amer­ica’s en­ergy in­dus­try, with a pro­posal to achieve en­tirely car­bon pol­lu­tion­free power by 2035.

The pre­sump­tive Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee planned to dis­cuss the pro­posal later Tues­day near his home in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware. It marks his lat­est ef­fort to build out a leg­isla­tive agenda with mea­sures that could an­i­mate pro­gres­sives who may be skep­ti­cal of Bi­den, who waged a more cen­trist cam­paign dur­ing the Demo­cratic pri­mary.

The plan re­flects ideas em­braced by some of Bi­den’s more pro­gres­sive al­lies dur­ing the pri­mary, like Jay Inslee, whose cam­paign cen­tered on the is­sue of cli­mate change. The Wash­ing­ton gov­er­nor first pro­posed achiev­ing en­tirely car­bon-free elec­tric­ity by 2035. But it doesn’t go as far as the Green New Deal, the sweep­ing pro­posal from pro­gres­sives in Congress that calls for achiev­ing net-zero green­house gas emis­sions across the econ­omy by 2030.

Bi­den’s plan does align with a cli­mate bill spear­headed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in re­duc­ing emis­sions to zero by

2050, how­ever. And it goes far­ther than that bill on achiev­ing a car­bon­neu­tral power sec­tor. House Democrats’ pro­posal sets a 2040 dead­line for that goal, while Bi­den’s aims to achieve it five years faster.

Cli­mate change, Bi­den said, “is the ex­is­ten­tial threat to hu­man­ity, and it is real. It is real. And it is ur­gent, and the pub­lic is be­com­ing aware of it. And it may be the very an­swer to get us out of this eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion we’re in.”

In the plan, Bi­den pledges to spend $2 tril­lion over four years to pro­mote his en­ergy pro­pos­als, a sig­nif­i­cant ac­cel­er­a­tion of the $1.7 tril­lion over 10 years he pro­posed spend­ing in his cli­mate plan dur­ing the pri­mary.

The pro­posal doesn’t in­clude specifics on how it would be paid for. Se­nior cam­paign of­fi­cials who re­quested anonymity to dis­cuss strat­egy said it would re­quire a mix of tax in­creases on cor­po­ra­tions and the wealthy and deficit spend­ing aimed at stim­u­lat­ing the econ­omy.

Un­like sev­eral of his Demo­cratic ri­vals in the pri­mary, Bi­den makes no men­tion of ban­ning dirt­ier-burn­ing coal or pro­hibit­ing frack­ing, a method of ex­tract­ing oil and gas that trig­gered a nat­u­ral gas boom in the United States over the last decade. The is­sue is po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive in some key bat­tle­ground states such as Penn­syl­va­nia, and dur­ing the pri­mary Bi­den lim­ited his op­po­si­tion to new frack­ing per­mits.

Bi­den’s new plan in­stead de­scribes an eas­ing out of burn­ing of oil and gas and coal, through more ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cles and pub­lic trans­port and build­ings and power plants.

In­stead of an all-out ban on cli­mate-dam­ag­ing fos­sil fu­els, he talks about car­bon cap­ture tech­nolo­gies to catch coal and pe­tro­leum pol­lu­tion from power plant smoke­stacks. Bi­den also em­braces nu­clear power, un­like some other Demo­cratic op­po­nents ear­lier. He calls for pump­ing up re­search on de­vel­op­ing power tech­nolo­gies like hy­dro­gen power and grid-size stor­age to stash power from so­lar and wind, over­com­ing a key draw­back of those car­bon-free en­ergy sources now.

Ear­lier Demo­cratic ri­vals found them­selves tar­geted by ad cam­paigns from the pe­tro­leum in­dus­try af­ter call­ing for ag­gres­sive ramp downs of fos­sil fuel use. Bi­den avoids even men­tion­ing fos­sil fu­els in his plan, re­fer­ring sim­ply to “clean en­ergy” from al­ter­nate or cleaned-up sources.


Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Joe Bi­den on Tues­day re­leased the de­tails of his plan for fight­ing cli­mate change.

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