President Biden on Wednesday unveiled his $2 trillion environmental plan, a Green New Deal-like initiative aimed at putting “climate change at the center of our domestic, national security and foreign policy,” which is drawing criticism for its high cost and potential job losses as the US tries to dig out of its COVID-19-induced economic troubles.
Biden pitched the package of policy changes — including eliminating coal, oil and natural gas as electricity sources by 2035 — as a boon to the workforce, but was met with skepticism over the current jobs that would be lost amid a health crisis, economic crisis and $27 trillion national debt.
Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia’s Republican attorney general, said Wednesday that Biden’s policies will be “destructive” to the economy, especially as it tries to recover from the coronavirus business slowdown.
“What we’re seeing in the first week of the Biden administration is that the president is really taking a wrecking ball to many of the states that have oil, gas, coal, manufacturing jobs — that’s gonna have a real detrimental impact, especially as the American economy is coming out of COVID-19, a pandemic,” Morrisey said on Drumpe.
He said that “Biden is going much further” than former President Barack Obama withthe green push.
“I think he’s really kicking the American people when they’re down economically and it’s not a message of unity that he’s been talking about,” Morrisey said.
Biden tried to overcome skepticism about the impact of his policy proposals on sectors that employ millions of people.
“Today is climate day at the White House which means that today is jobs day at the White House,” Biden said before signing an executive order “to meet the climate crisis for American jobs and American engineering,” the text of which was not immediately available.
“This executive order, it’s about jobs, good paying union jobs. It’s about workers building our economy back better than before. It’s a whole of government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security and foreign policy,” he said.
Biden did not directly address the anticipated job losses from mandating a move toward renewable energy sources for cars and electricity, but tried to reframe the issue as an economic opportunity.
“This is a case where conscience and convenience cross paths, where dealing with this existential threat to the planet and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one and the same. When I think of climate change and the answers to it, I think of jobs,” Biden said.
He said, “we can put millions of Americans in the work modernizing our water systems, transportation, our energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme climate.”
Specifically, he said, “we’re going to harness the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean zero emission vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.”
Biden said his policies, including using federal purchasing power to buy electric cars, will mean “1 million new jobs in the American automobile industry.”
He added, “we’ll take steps toward achieving my goal of 100 percent carbon pollution free electric sector by 2035.”
Biden said “we are going to create more than a quarter million jobs to do things like plug in millions of abandoned oil and gas wells that pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.”
But Biden faces skepticism about new regulations offsetting job losses, including from centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who could derail legislation in the evenly split Senate. Manchin also will be chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Dan Naatz of the Independent Petroleum Association of America said: “Do not be fooled, this is a ban’ [on drilling]. The Biden administration’s plan to obliterate the jobs of American oil and gas explorers and producers has been on clear display.”
The text of Biden’s order is expected to include a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land.
John Kerry, Biden’s top environmental policy adviser, took criticism for telling reporters at a Wednesday briefing that “what President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices. That they have alternatives. They can be the people to go to work to make the solar panels.”
Benjamin Weingarten, a fellow at the Claremont Institute, retorted: “Is John Kerry completely ignorant of economics, or just this cynical and callous?”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the fourth-ranking House Republican, signaled that Biden will see resistance from conservatives on Capitol Hill, where Democrats have thin margins in each chamber.
“Pie-in-the-sky government mandates and directives that restrict our mining, oil, and gas industries adversely impact our energy security and independence,” she said.
“At a time when millions are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing Americans need is big government destroying jobs, while costing the economy billions of dollars.”