Biden’s New Steps on Climate to Fall Short of ‘Emergency’ Designation

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House in Washington. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will unveil new executive steps to address climate in a visit to Massachusetts on Wednesday that are expected to fall short of declaring the federal emergency many Democrats had urged.

Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups have been calling for the White House to take aggressive measures on climate change after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said last week he was not ready to support key climate provisions in Congress, a critical loss in the evenly divided Senate.

In a visit to Somerset, Massachusetts, Biden will stress that climate change is “an existential threat to our nation and to the world” and will make clear that “since Congress is not going to act on this emergency, then he will,” said a White House official.

The steps include providing more funding for a program that helps local communities expand flood control, shore up utilities and retrofit buildings, as well as another that helps low-income families pay for heating and cooling costs, according to a White House official.

Biden will also announce new support for the domestic offshore wind industry, the official said. In Massachusetts, the President will visit a former coal-fired plant that is playing a role in supporting the state’s offshore wind industry as a manufacturing hub for undersea cables. That illustrates the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy that Biden has been promoting as critical to reducing climate emissions.

Biden has been under pressure to declare a climate emergency, which would enable the use of the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of a wide range of renewable energy products and systems.

But the President is not expected to take that step on Wednesday even as a heat wave swept across the country and threatened millions of Americans as well as the power grid.

Biden promised tough action on climate change in his presidential campaign and pledged in international climate negotiations to cut climate pollution by 50% by 2030 and reach 100% clean electricity by 2035.

But that climate agenda has been derailed by several major setbacks, including Congress failing to pass crucial climate and clean energy measures in a federal budget bill, record-setting gasoline prices, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupting global energy markets.

A Supreme Court ruling last month limiting the federal government’s authority to issue sweeping regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants also is undermining Biden’s climate plans.

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