Joe Biden is proposing, if elected in November, to spend upwards of $2 trillion to remake America’s energy infrastructure so it better addresses “environmental and climate justice.”
On Tuesday, the former vice president released his long-awaited climate change plan. Biden’s proposal, heavily influenced by the recommendations of a unity task force set up earlier this year by the presumptive nominee and his vanquished primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), suggests spending $2 trillion over four years to combat climate change.
The price tag is substantially higher than the $1.7 trillion that Biden proposed to spend over ten years on climate issues during the Democrat primary last year. Most of the new spending comes from the ambitious goals laid out in the proposal the former vice president unveiled Tuesday.
For instance, Biden is now proposing to adopt a 100 percent clean-electricity standard by 2035. A similar idea was initially raised by Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) last year during his own ill-fated run for the Democrat nomination. If implemented, it would ensure that all electricity produced in the United States would be “carbon-free.” This would likely have a massive impact on the coal and natural gas industries that, according to the Energy Information Association, produce around 63 percent of all electricity in the country.
Biden’s ambitions, though, do not stop there. The former vice president proposes creating one million jobs in the audit industry by boosting the production of energy-efficient vehicles. To achieve the goal, Biden is backing legislation, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), to incentivize individuals to trade in their gas-powered vehicles for ones running on either electricity or hydrogen.
Among a bevy of other initiatives, the former vice president’s plan provides funding for more than four million homeowners to upgrade their dwellings to meet energy efficacy standards. It also creates an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Department of Justice. The division, modeled off local efforts by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, would be responsible for cracking down on polluting businesses and corporations.
To help implement the wide-reaching agenda, Biden is proposing the creation of an environmental conservation corps, based on the poverty-relief programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The corps will pay individuals to work on green energy infrastructure projects, such as plugging abandoned mines and wells.
Although Biden’s plan is only hours old it is already receiving criticism from Republicans, many of whom compare it to the Green New Deal championed by progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY).
“We know what that kind of radical energy policy looks like, and the studies show clearly it would be devastating to jobs in America,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told reporters when discussing the plan on Tuesday.