Joe Biden unveils $2 trillion green infrastructure and jobs plan


Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the U.S. economy during a campaign event at McGregor Industries, a metal works plant that manufactures stairs and stair railings, in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, July 9, 2020.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

Former Vice President Joe Biden released a sprawling plan Tuesday to revamp American infrastructure and energy to both curb climate change and spur economic growth. 

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s proposal aims to achieve carbon-free power generation by 2035. As the coronavirus pandemic leaves the U.S. mired in an economic crisis, Biden will set out to create “millions” of union jobs that pay at least $15 per hour as the U.S. overhauls its roads, bridges, trains, auto industry and broadband system. 

The plan, which comes days after a joint task force formed by the Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns outlined a climate change agenda, sets out a more ambitious approach to developing clean energy than the Biden campaign did during the Democratic primary. It calls for $2 trillion in spending over four years, more than the $1.7 trillion the campaign previously proposed to spend over a decade. 

“Even if we weren’t facing a pandemic and an economic crisis, we should be making these investments anyway,” Biden said of the plan during remarks in Delaware, calling the investments “critical” for the economy and public health.

At the same time, the Democratic presidential hopeful aims to use the federal government to reverse years of Trump administration efforts to ease environmental rules, including by setting up an environmental and climate justice division within the Justice Department. The campaign said it would also create tools to better monitor and root out pollution that disproportionately leaves communities of color with chronic health issues. 

The Biden campaign did not say how it would pay for the investments. The former vice president supports increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans. 

The plan will face opposition from Republicans who generally back a slower transition away from fossil fuels than Democrats. Biden’s ability to pass any climate plan will depend on Democrats’ ability to flip a net four Senate seats in November to win a majority in the chamber. 

Biden’s proposal, which earned the support of climate change activist and former primary rival Tom Steyer, notably did not mention whether the campaign wants to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Biden during the primary called for limited restrictions on the practice for extracting natural gas.

The industry thrives in the swing state of Pennsylvania. Sanders, among others, called for a blanket ban on fracking.

The senator and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the climate change panel on the Biden-Sanders task force, have supported a sweeping Green New Deal energy and jobs plan. Biden has not embraced the proposal. 

The Trump campaign criticized Biden’s plan on Tuesday, contending “union jobs related to oil, natural gas, fracking, and energy infrastructure will be on the chopping block in Joe Biden’s America.” The president has generally aimed to remove impediments to production of coal, oil and natural gas in the U.S. 

Biden also criticized Trump for failing to pass an infrastructure overhaul after promising to during his 2016 campaign and at various points during his presidency. The Democrat said the president “has never delivered. He’s never even tried.” 

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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