ARVADA, Colorado – President Biden warned Tuesday that the United States has only a decade left to face a global climate crisis, using his second day of touring a wildfire-ravaged west to try to rally the public and Congressional Democrats. to support the measures. that his administration hopes to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
Mr. Biden stops in Colorado this week; Boise, Idaho; and Long Beach and the Sacramento area of California represented more than an opportunity to draw attention to severe destruction of forest fires and other natural disasters that have been exacerbated by climate change. The visits were a last opportunity to sell the importance of the measures aimed at mitigate climate changesome of which seem to be increasingly at risk in their spending packages.
“A drought or a fire doesn’t see a property line,” Biden said during remarks at a federal renewable energy lab. “It doesn’t matter a damn which party you belong to. Disasters will not stop. That is the nature of the climate threat. But we know what we have to do. We just need to muster the courage and creativity to do it. “
Underscoring the urgency, Biden added: “We don’t have much more than 10 years.”
Democratic leaders drafting a $ 3.5 trillion spending bill are struggling to match the urgency of Biden’s pleas with pushback from energy lobbyists and some key Democrats, who want a lot of effort. less expansive than Biden has in mind.
On Monday, during a visit to the California Office of Emergency Services in the Sacramento area, Biden seemed to acknowledge that. Before receiving a briefing on the damage caused by the wildfires, he reminded dozens of emergency workers in the conference room that he was unable to include all of his proposed investments to combat future climate change. bipartisan agreement that reached this summer in infrastructure. He said he was focused on including them in the larger $ 3.5 trillion package, but acknowledged that it might not meet his ambitions.
“If that happens or not, exactly how much, I don’t know. But we’re going to get it passed, ”Biden said.
The House tax writers have already made a kind of concession on the weather. A bill released earlier this week omits any tax on carbon emissions, even though that revenue could help pay for the giant package, which Democrats plan to pass on to parties and without Republican support. Many Democratic senators have pushed to include a direct emissions tax or an indirect one, such as a tariff on goods imported from high-emitting countries like China. But the party is not aligned, and given the slim majorities in the House and Senate, such a plan would likely have trouble getting the necessary 50 votes in the Senate.
Centrists’ concerns about the size and scope of some proposed tax increases could force party leaders to cut incentives for low-carbon energy deployment in the plan. Democrats who have resisted the party’s previous climate legislation, such as Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, could also play a role.
A moderate from the coal state, Mr. Manchin is the chairman of the committee charged with drafting the Senate version of the largest individual effort to cut emissions in the bill: a carrot-and-stick approach to lobbying power companies. so that they extract more energy from low carbon sources. sources for the next decade.
“The transition is happening,” Manchin said, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “Now they want to pay companies to do what they are already doing. It doesn’t make any sense to me that we take billions of dollars and pay for utilities for what they’re going to do as the market changes. “
He declined to comment further on Tuesday, telling reporters that he preferred to negotiate privately. Senate Democrats used a weekly caucus luncheon to provide an update on efforts to improvise parts of the legislation during the annual summer vacation, although it was unclear how quickly they would reconcile differences within and between the two houses.
Biden used his western swing to highlight what his aides hope will be a call to climate action for those who haven’t committed to a more aggressive plan. Throughout the trip, Biden heard from emergency officials and governors, including those at odds with the administration on the pandemic and other issues, about the urgent need to address natural disasters. Biden told emergency workers in California that he had recently spoken with Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, about emergency response.
“Some of my more conservatives,” Biden said before pausing and resuming, “some of my friends who are less believing in this notion of global warming are suddenly having an altar call.”
“They are seeing the Lord,” Biden said.
When Mr. Biden received his fire report later from officials at the Office of Emergency Services, a woman could be heard presenting him with a wildfire map saying, “That’s why it’s so important.”
On Tuesday, Biden watched a wind turbine demonstration at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Flatirons Campus in Arvada, Colorado, and then recounted the damage from hurricanes and wildfires he had seen on trips across the United States this month. He called for tax credits to accelerate the deployment of solar energy and electric vehicles and for the creation of a Civil Climate Corps to conserve public lands and help make them more resilient to climate change.
Biden’s economic team has not clarified whether the president would accept an emissions tax as part of the package. He refused to accept a Republican proposal to increase the federal gas tax to help pay for infrastructure, citing his promise not to raise income taxes on anyone making less than $ 400,000. But his administration has not opposed a tax hike on cigarettes, which the House included in its tax plan and which would disproportionately affect those who earn the least.
Administration officials have also not said how far a final agreement on emission reductions must go for Biden to accept it. When asked by an Arvada reporter if he would sign the $ 3.5 billion spending package if it included scaled-down measures to address climate change, Biden clenched his fist. “I am in favor of more climate measures,” he said.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the top deputy press secretary, told Air Force One reporters that Biden was strongly committed to the climate components of the bill. But, he said, “Biden’s climate agenda does not depend on reconciliation alone or the infrastructure package alone.”
“We are looking for opportunities in all sectors of the economy to create clean energy jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said, “especially in the decisive, in this decisive decade.”
Emily Cochrane contributed to reporting.