Biden to announce patchwork of climate actions as calls grow for national emergency

Biden to announce patchwork of climate actions as calls grow for national emergency
The president will speak on the climate crisis on Wednesday in Massachusetts following collapse of negotiations over legislation in Congress

President Joe Biden will announce new measures to tackle the climate crisis on Wednesday – but stop short of the national emergency declaration being called for by a growing number of Democrats and climate activists.

As dangerous heat impacts one in three Americans, and Europe burns, the president will reportedly announce plans to combat extreme heat and boost offshore US wind production during his visit to Somerset, Massachusetts. He will speak at a former coal plant that has been converted as part of operations for the offshore wind industry.

The Independent has contacted the White House for comment.

Calls are growing within Democratic ranks for Mr Biden to declare a national emergency which would open up a range of executive powers to cut planet-heating emissions and boost resilience to climate impacts.

“If ever there is an emergency that demands ambitious action, climate chaos is it,” reads a letter sent to the president this week from nine Democratic senators, including Jeff Merkeley of Oregon and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

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 added.

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 noted.

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.

The bill only has Democratic support, making the West Virginian’s vote critical in passing the 50-50 split Senate. Manchin, who has taken more campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry than any other senator according to The New York Times, doomed President Joe Biden’s expansive Build Back Better bill last year.

The Independent has contacted the senator’s office for comment.

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.

“The president made clear that if the Senate doesn’t act to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, he will,” an anonymous White House official told The Washington Post on Monday. “We are considering all options and no decision has been made.”

Following Mr Manchin’s latest move, President Biden said that he would deploy executive action to tackle the climate change which is driving deadly heatwaves, massive wildfires and destructive storms across the country.

Some environmental groups heralded the possibility of a climate emergency declaration.

“A historic climate emergency declaration is exactly what we need from Biden to match the scale and urgency of this crisis,” Jean Su, from non-profit Center for Biological Diversity, told The Independent via a statement.

“By unlocking crucial climate powers, Biden can put Manchin’s gaslighting behind us and get busy getting us off fossil fuels and building the renewable-energy powerhouse we desperately need.”

Climate activists, along with progressive members of his own party, have been amping up the pressure on Mr Biden to take bold action after Mr Manchin walked away.

“Climate chaos is destroying communities. In my home state, entire towns have been burned to the ground by catastrophic wildfires fueled by climate chaos. I’ve talked to families who lost everything and who are struggling to rebuild. This is an emergency,’ Senator Jeff Merkeley, of Oregon, tweeted on Tuesday.

“POTUS needs to go big on climate—starting by declaring a climate emergency so we can take bold action NOW on the disastrous impacts climate chaos has on our health, environment, and economy.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island tweeted on Thursday: “With legislative climate options now closed, it’s now time for executive Beast Mode.”