Fighting Climate Change and Environmental Justice Score Big Increases in Biden Budget Proposal

The Biden administration released its “skinny” post-election year budget plan for government spending next year and it included large increases for battling climate change and reversing environmental injustice, particularly as compared to the Trump administration’s drastic proposed cuts in these areas.  The increase of $14 billion for climate efforts and $1.4 billion of environmental justice includes “increases at the Energy Department, Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of 10.2 percent, 16 percent, and 21.3 percent respectively compared to what Congress appropriated for fiscal 2021,” The Hill reported.  EPA would receive $1.4 billion more for environmental justice and $3.5 billion for water infrastructure improvements, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would receive $6.9 billion, which is a $1.4 billion increase from its budget enacted for 2021.

Why This Matters: These are big increases over the Trump administration’s proposals — for NOAA it would mean 50% more.  But Congress never enacted those truly skinny budgets — they actually modestly increased or held most environmental spending steady.  The infrastructure proposed by the President will mean bulking up government spending needed to implement the American Jobs Plan well.  Things like NOAA providing the public climate forecasts and predictions and EPA doing air quality monitoring in polluted neighborhoods.  Now Congress must appropriate the bucks.

Environmental Justice Gets Its Due, Rural Communities Too

The EPA proposes $936 million dollars in new spending to create an Accelerating Environmental and Economic Justice initiative that would “make sure that all communities, regardless of their zip code, have clean air, clean water, and safe places to live and work,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement Friday.  According to the proposal, “This includes more than $300 million in new investments in the next generation of agriculture and conservation, including support for private lands conservation, renewable energy grants and loans, and the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps to create a new pathway to good-paying jobs in rural America.” It also provides $6.5 billion in lending to support additional clean energy, energy storage, and transmission projects in rural communities, including communities of color, according to The Hill, which is important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well.

Climate Change Bigger Bucks = Jobs

The Hill explains that the spending proposal would put the country on a path to “quadruple” DOE’s spending on clean energy research across the government in four years and would invest $8 billion in areas like advanced nuclear technology, electric vehicles, and green hydrogen.  It also more than doubles the amount appropriated by Congress this year for reclaiming orphaned mines and oil wells, allocating more than $450 million, which they forecast will create 250,000 new jobs.  With respect to NOAA, according to the Office of Management and Budget statement released on Friday, “These additional funds would allow NOAA to expand its climate observation and forecasting work and provide better data and information to decision-makers, support coastal resilience programs that would help protect communities from the economic and environmental impacts of climate change, and invest in modern infrastructure to enable these critical efforts.”   And it follows through on a campaign promise to create a climate research agency at the Energy Department, called the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate — or “ARPA-C” modeled on the Defense Agency with a similar mandate.

International Climate Support Grows Too

Ahead of the White House Climate Summit later this month, and on the heels of a trip to India and Bangladesh, the White House is proposing $1.2 billion to helping developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change through the Green Climate Fund, which was established in the Paris Agreement, and adding almost $700 million for assistance to developing countries with climate and clean energy through the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

To Go Deeper: See the full OMB statement here.

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