Biden’s Budget Pledges $36B for Climate, Nearly Doubling Federal Spending On It


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The Biden administration released its detailed budget proposal on Friday and it contained $36 billion in total for climate, a huge increase in climate-related spending.  According to the budget justification, the increase of more than $14 billion compared over current spending invests “in resilience and clean energy, enhancing U.S. competitiveness, and putting America on a path to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050—all while supporting communities that have been left behind and ensuring that 40 percent of the benefits from tackling the climate crisis are targeted toward addressing the disproportionately high cumulative impacts on disadvantaged communities.” The spending falls into three buckets:  Building Clean Energy Projects and Investing in Resilience, Helping Communities Left Behind, and Increasing Competitiveness through Investments in Innovation and Science.

Why This Matters:  Biden is making good on campaign promises, with a government-wide mobilization, creating good-paying union jobs building clean energy projects, buying electric vehicles that are made in the U.S.A., remediating abandoned wells and mines and rebuilding aging water pipes, expanding climate observation and forecasting, and putting more than $2 billion toward supporting emissions reductions abroad.  And he proposes to pay for it by keeping another promise and ending subsidies to fossil fuels that would have cost billions.

What the $14 Billion Will Do

DOI: The Department’s request “includes more than $1.9 billion in new climate-related investments to conserve and adaptively manage natural resources, increase understanding of how natural resources are changing and what that means, build resilience to protect communities and lands from significant impacts, and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. The proposal includes funding to help advance the America the Beautiful initiative – the Administration’s effort to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 – and includes more than $900 million in funding for Interior and the Department of Agriculture for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The budget proposal also contains funding for wildland fire management, drought mitigation, and science-based investments that will help the Department and communities prepare for and address the aftermath of natural hazard events.”

EPA: The agency’s overall request of $11.8 billion contains “an increase of $1.8 billion in programs to tackle the climate crisis while also delivering environmental justice to marginalized and over-burdened communities, investing in local economies, and creating good-paying jobs.”  It appears the increases are spread across all its programs — air, water, solid waste, and toxics.

NOAA: The agency’s budget includes an “increase of $1.5 billion from its enacted FY 2021 budget. NOAA provides 24×7 actionable information about climate change through a complex suite of oceanic, atmospheric, and space-based observing tools, using ships, planes, satellites and autonomous aerial and undersea vehicles. This budget increase will accelerate NOAA’s efforts to research, adapt to, and mitigate the impacts of climate change, in support of the Administration’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad, through $855.1 million in targeted investments” in research, observations and forecasting, restoration and resilience, wind and equity.

USDA: The “USDA approach to tackling the climate crisis will focus on science-driven technological climate science advancement, creating or maintaining resilient landscapes on all lands, implementing climate change hubs, and innovative science and evidence-driven programs by investing over $914 million of new FY 2022 discretionary investments in climate-smart agriculture and climate-smart forestry activities, as well as $564 million of new FY 2022 discretionary investments for clean energy activities across USDA.”

DOE:  The agency’s budget request “supports the President’s vision of achieving carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 while creating good-paying jobs by investing over $2.2 billion in a Building Clean Energy Projects and Workforce Initiative at DOE. This investment will support efficient implementation of American Jobs Plan programs – including programmatic infrastructure for a new energy efficiency and clean electricity standard –weatherizing 50,000 low-income homes, increasing the efficiency of federal buildings through performance contracts, and establishing a new Build Back Better Challenge Grant competition to support novel State-, local-, and Tribal-level approaches to clean energy deployment that provides benefits to marginalized and overburdened communities and streamlined transmission investment. These investments will develop and deploy technologies that will deliver a clean energy revolution resulting in affordable, abundant clean power delivered on a modern energy grid that is resilient and reliable.”

Tax Incentives Gained and Lost

The fossil fuel industry would lose tax credits for enhanced oil recovery, a method of extraction that allows companies to extract from hard-to-reach areas and for oil and gas from marginal wells, as well as tax credits for “intangible” costs like wages, repairs, supplies, and other expenses. It also eliminates a provision that allows oil and gas companies to deduct as much as 15 percent of the revenue they get from a well from their taxable income.  It extends tax credits for wind and solar and other renewable sources, as well as for energy-efficient homes and buildings.  And it adds new tax credits for heavy and medium-sized electric vehicles, for the use of sustainable aviation fuels, and enhances credits for carbon sequestration.

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