DENVER – Climate change is driving the increase in extreme weather and is caused by humans, and America has to act now to turn the tide, President Joe Biden said Tuesday at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Jefferson County.
“We’ve got to get real about what’s going on. I really mean it – think about it. The only debate is around what we do to confront this crisis, and that shouldn’t even be a debate. We have to invest in being more resilient because of the impacts of climate,” the president said as he pushed his infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan.
“The climate change is occurring today, not 10 years from now. And we have to make the investments that slow our contributions to climate change today, not tomorrow. And here’s the good news,” Biden added. “Something that is caused by humans can be solved by humans.”
Biden toured the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, home to the National Wind Technology Center, and got a look at some of the cutting-edge wind, solar, and other renewable energy technologies being developed there.
The Biden administration’s Build Back Better agenda contains plans to move the U.S. to use 100% carbon-free power generation by 2035 and to quickly cut greenhouse gas emissions – two things Colorado officials have also been working to do over the past several years.
The president said the plans would help Denver reach its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. Colorado’s goal is to move to 100% renewable energy by 2040.
Along with the agenda, Biden was in Colorado as part of a tour of western states to tout the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill backed by his administration, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars that would go toward Colorado’s expansion of its electric vehicle infrastructure and public transportation systems, but which is still awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.
Biden said the goals set during his vice-presidential tenure for dates to meet in order to slow climate change were out of date and that the real action needed to happen today.
“We don’t have much time. We don’t have much more than 10 years, for real. And this is a decisive decade,” Biden said.
He said that passage of the infrastructure bill would help create 800,000 jobs across the country for skilled and unskilled workers, including union jobs, and that the Build Back Better plan would bolster tax credits for solar farm construction and shorten the time by which solar panels on homes would pay for themselves. He also touted the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps and a push to get half of new cars that are manufactured by 2030 to be electric.
Biden also spoke about the flooding at the burn scar from the Grizzly Creek Fire and ongoing threats to Colorado and western states because of climate change. He was in California and Idaho Monday, at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, to discuss wildfire mitigation.
“It’s not about red state or blue states. A drought or a fire doesn’t see a property line. It doesn’t give a damn which party you belong to. Disasters aren’t going to stop. That’s the nature of the climate threat. But we know what we have to do. We just need to summon the courage and the creativity to do it,” Biden said.
Several people showed up to protest Biden’s visit Tuesday afternoon, and Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown said Biden’s administration was spending trillions in “unnecessary” money as it continues to try move its reconciliation spending package and the other plans forward through Congress.
“If he [Biden] wants to visit with the people of Colorado, he should talk to the consumers who are paying more at the gas pump right now – and who don’t understand why he is asking OPEC to increase production, while he and his liberal friends are hurting production and reducing production, here in the United States,” said Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., in a statement.
Biden was greeted at Denver International Airport by Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and joined along the way by Democratic Reps. Joe Neguse, Ed Perlmutter and Jason Crow.
“Coloradans know that bolder actions must be taken if we’re going to end the costly cycle of destruction brought on by climate change,” Polis said in a statement. “With support from the Biden administration, I am confident that we can address this generational challenge, save consumers money, create jobs, and grow our economy.”
Neguse, who has pushed for the Civilian Climate Corps to be included in the Build Back Better Plan, said he was honored by Biden's visit and support for the program.
“The need for bold, urgent climate action is exactly why we’ve been working to enact the Civilian Climate Corps to put people to work restoring our lands, tackling western wildfires and the climate crisis,” Neguse said in a statement. “I’m grateful to President Biden for renewing his commitment for the program today and look forward to partnering as we ensure this bold idea becomes a reality through the Build Back Better Act.”
Crow has been working with Sen. Michael Bennet to push forward the Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act to create jobs in forest management and watershed protection.
“The science is clear: there is a short window to drastically reduce our emissions and avoid the worst impacts of this crisis,” he said in a statement. “The alternative would be devastating to our planet, and to Colorado. We stand with President Biden and people across Colorado to tackle our climate goals and create a sustainable and inclusive future.”