WILMINGTON, Del. (News Nation/AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden laid out his $2 trillion clean-energy plan Tuesday at a campaign event.
“These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people,” Biden said during remarks to reporters near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The climate plan proposes to overhaul America’s energy industry, with the goal of achieving entirely carbon pollution-free power by 2035. Detailed on his campaign site, Biden says he will launch a “national effort aimed at creating the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future.”
The plan would involve spending $2 trillion over four years, an increase from the $1.7 trillion over 10 years he proposed spending on his climate plan during the primary. Since emerging as the prospective Democratic nominee, Biden has been pressed by activists in the party to adopt more expansive climate policies.
Biden acknowledged that the economy is in “crisis” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said it offers “an incredible opportunity, not just to build back to where we were before, but better, stronger, more resilient and more prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.”
The proposal does not include specifics on how it would be paid for. Senior campaign officials spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity said it would require a mix of tax increases on corporations and the wealthy and deficit spending aimed at stimulating the economy.
Biden’s plan aligns with a climate bill spearheaded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that seeks to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, but goes beyond that bill with the goal of achieving a carbon-neutral power sector by 2035 — 5 years faster than the House Democrats’ proposal deadline of 2040.
Biden did not mention banning burning coal or prohibiting fracking, an issue the AP reports is politically sensitive in key states such as Pennsylvania. Instead, Biden’s new plan describes easing out burning oil, gas and coal through more efficient vehicles, public transport, buildings and power plants.
Instead of a ban on climate-damaging fossil fuels, Biden’s plan talks about carbon capture technologies to catch coal and petroleum pollution from power plant smokestacks. Biden also embraces nuclear power, unlike some of his Democratic primary opponents. He calls for increased research on still-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.
Two Republican congressmen from energy-producing states, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, responded to Biden’s proposal in a press call held by the Trump campaign. They said Biden is pandering to the party’s liberal wing and warned that instead of boosting the economy, the plan would do away with thousands of high-paying jobs and increase electricity costs, with middle-and low-income families bearing the brunt.
The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group in Washington, suggested Biden’s plan could harm the U.S. oil and gas industry, forcing the country to look to foreign sources of energy with lower environmental standards.
“You can’t address the risks of climate change without America’s natural gas and oil industry,” said Mike Sommers, the institute’s chief executive.