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Joe Biden launches climate and jobs programs — but no new pollution-cutting goals

by Jessica
Joe Biden

The Biden administration launched new climate funding and jobs programs today as world leaders — minus Joe Biden — gather for the Climate Ambition Summit in New York.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $4.6 billion in new funding for state, local, and tribal clean energy programs. Plus, details have finally emerged for a long-awaited American Climate Corps.

But Biden is expected to skip the United Nations climate summit today, a conspicuous absence since UN Secretary-General António Guterres stipulated that leaders present “credible, serious and new climate action” in order to participate.

Biden, who came to New York this week for the UN General Assembly, is reportedly sending climate envoy John Kerry to attend the summit in his place.

Today, the EPA announced two new grant competitions for “programs and policies that cut climate pollution, advance environmental justice, and deploy clean energy solutions across the country.” One will be for Indigenous tribes and territories. The other is to fund state and local governments.

Taken together, the $4.6 in competitive grants are less than the $7.5 billion the Biden administration is spending on deploying EV chargers. The Supreme Court hampered the EPA’s efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions from power plants last year, which had been a major pillar of the Biden administration’s efforts to hit climate goals. Under the Paris Climate Accord, Biden has pledged to slash US greenhouse gas emissions in half from 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

But the Supreme Court decided the EPA, as a regulatory body, doesn’t have the authority to determine whether the US gets its electricity from clean or dirty sources of energy — that would require new legislation.

With a divided Congress and a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, the Biden administration is leaning more on state and local actors to help the US hit its climate goals. “Tackling the global climate crisis requires partnerships and action across the country,” EPA administrator Michael Regan said in a press release. “By investing in America, we’re investing in communities so they can chart their own paths toward the clean energy future.”

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