The reaction from environmental groups and climate policy experts to the unveiling of President Biden’s new infrastructure plan was mostly positive, but some advocates say the plan does not meet the urgency of the current climate crisis.
Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University who studies energy systems and policy, told CNN the plan has the potential to have a transformative impact on accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy.
The transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the US economy, according to EPA data. Jenkins said the $174 billion investment in the plan to advance electric vehicle technology, offer rebates and tax incentives to EV buyers and built out a network of 500,000 charging stations could go a long way towards reducing emissions in the US and creating jobs.
“In the near term, it looks like there’s sufficient funding here to subsidize the purchase price [of a new electric vehicle] so that when you go to the dealership, it’s just a better, cheaper car. And that can, along with investments in manufacturing, drive a revitalization of US automaking,” Jenkins said.
The nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) also pointed to the transportation investments as a significant step towards decarbonizing the economy and protecting American jobs.
“President Biden’s bold action to invest in clean transportation is one of the biggest steps we can take to move America forward,” said EDF president Fred Krupp in a statement. “With this plan, President Biden is standing up for U.S. workers by making the investments we need to win the jobs of the future.”
Others green groups, who had viewed this infrastructure plan as the biggest and best opportunity to pass climate legislation in a Senate with a razor-thin Democratic majority, expressed disappointment at the scope of the plan.
The youth-led climate advocacy group Sunrise Movement, which helped to create the Green New Deal and has called for an investment of at least $1 trillion each year for the next decade to address climate change, said Biden’s plan is a “start.”
“The priorities and approach are right — this contains the frameworks of the Green New Deal — but as of now this plan could only be considered a beginning of that truly transformative vision,” said Varshini Prakash, the Sunrise Movement’s executive director
And the Center for Biological Diversity – a nonprofit focused on conservation issues – said Biden’s plan “squanders one of our last, best chances to stop the climate emergency.”
“Instead of a Marshall Plan approach that moves our economy to renewable energy, it includes gimmicky subsidies for carbon capture, fantastically wishes the free market will save us, and fails to take crucial and ambitious steps toward phasing out fossil fuels,” said Brett Hartl, the center’s government affairs director, in a statement.
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