President Biden on Wednesday announced modest new steps to combat climate change and promised more robust action to come, saying, "This is an emergency and I will look at it that way." The president stopped short, though, of declaring a formal climate emergency, which Democrats and environmental groups have been seeking after an influential Democratic senator quashed hopes for sweeping legislation to address global warming, the AP reports. Biden hinted such a step, which would allow him to redirect federal resources to bolster renewable energy programs, could be coming.
"Let me be clear: Climate change is an emergency,'" Biden said. He pledged to use his power as president "to turn these words into formal, official government actions through the appropriate proclamations, executive orders, and regulatory power that a president possesses." When it comes to action on climate change, he added, "I will not take no for an answer.'' Biden delivered his pledge at a former coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts. The former Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, is shifting to offshore wind power manufacturing, and Biden chose it as the embodiment of the transition to clean energy that he is seeking but has struggled to realize in the first 18 months of his presidency.
Executive actions announced Wednesday will bolster the domestic offshore wind industry in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast, as well as spend $2.3 billion to help communities cope with soaring temperatures through programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies. Gina McCarthy, Biden's climate adviser, said Biden is not "shying away" from treating climate as an emergency with a national declaration. "The president wants to make sure that we're doing it right, that we're laying it out, and that we have the time we need to get this worked out,'' she told reporters.
Biden's Massachusetts trip comes as historic temperatures bake Europe and the United States. Wildfires raged in Spain and France, and Britain on Tuesday shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered. At least 100 million Americans face heat advisories in the next few days as cities around the US sweat through more intense and longer-lasting heat waves that scientists blame on global warming. (Read more climate change stories.)