Biden comes out swinging

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Given how quick today’s Republican Party is to impede progress with clean energy, it is hard to believe that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created under the Nixon administration. Noting that “concern with the condition of our physical environment has intensified,” Nixon informed Congress in July 1970 that “it has become increasingly clear that we need to… effectively ensure the protection, development and enhancement of the total environment itself.”

Rather than embrace this pro-environment legacy, the GOP actively counters efforts to improve the health of the planet, and therefore, its inhabitants. In 2019, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned, “The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.” Now, five years later, there remains only one major political party in the United States trying to win that race, which itself is a tragedy.

Since his inauguration, President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders have been working tirelessly to safeguard the environment despite what has become the predictable kneejerk Republican opposition. The recent announcement detailing progress with the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) is a prime example.

On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael Regan revealed the recipients of awards totaling $20 billion that will fund tens of thousands of clean energy projects across the United States. This investment is part of the GGRF, which the White House described as “a first-of-its-kind and national-scale” program “to combat the climate crisis by catalyzing public and private capital for projects that slash harmful climate pollution, improve air quality, lower energy costs, and create good-paying jobs.”

The EPA estimates that the funded projects will reduce or avoid up to 40 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year over the next seven years. It also “uses limited public capital smartly to crowd in private capital,” according to an expert in a Newsweek analysis.

Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress want to torpedo the effort. On March 22, the House passed H.R. 1023 (the “Cutting Green Corruption and Taxes Act”) to repeal the GGRF, by a vote of 209-204, nearly exclusively along party lines. In a statement urging the bill’s passing, the Republican-chaired Energy and Commerce Committee labeled the GGRF as “the slush fund for Biden’s radical rush-to-green agenda.” Biden issued a stern warning a day earlier that if this bill were to reach his desk, he “would veto it.”

Good governance means working collaboratively to address the nation’s problems while taking the lead in solving critical global issues such as the health of our planet. By contrast, Republicans keep reminding us that their top priority is to oppose the Biden administration’s efforts, no matter what progress or benefit they entail. Even Nixon wouldn’t be pleased with today’s GOP.

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