Energy & Environment

Biden hopes to boost climate spending by $14 billion

President Biden is asking the federal government to spend an additional $14 billion on tackling climate change in his budget request for fiscal 2022, according to the White House. 

The request includes funding 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 request is in stark contrast to President Trump’s budget requests for the environmental departments, which last year proposed a 26 percent cut to the EPA and an elimination of 50 of the agency’s programs. 

As the federal budget is set by Congress, presidential budget requests largely signify an administration’s policy priorities and goals. They could also give an indication as to what the president’s congressional allies could push for. 

“Responding to the climate crisis depends on helping communities transition to a cleaner future. But instead of investing in climate science and technology at the Environmental Protection Agency, we’ve cut funding by 27 percent since 2010, adjusted for inflation,” acting Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young wrote in a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

“The President believes now is the time to begin reversing this trend,” Young added. 

Parts of the budget are focused on research and development, including $4 billion across agencies like the Interior Department, NASA and the National Science Foundation for understanding climate change and informing adaptation and resilience.

The request also seeks to put the country on track to quadruple 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 at the Energy Department. 

This is an increase of 27 percent compared to the budget for this year that was passed by Congress. 

The White House also proposed the creation of a climate research agency at the department, called the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate. 

The request also indicated that the White House may be hoping to set a drinking water limit for a class of chemicals called PFAS that have been linked to health issues as the president seeks to devote $75 million to speed up toxicity studies and research to inform both designating it as a hazardous substance and setting limits for it under the Safe Drinking Water Act. 

It also aims to put more than $900 million toward an EPA environmental justice initiative that aims to create jobs and clean up pollution, which includes $100 million for developing an air quality monitoring and notification system.

The request more than doubles the enacted 2021 budget for reclaiming orphaned mines and oil wells, with a provision of more than $450 million.

The Biden administration, which has emphasized the job creation involved in its environmental efforts, said that well reclamation would build on its target of creating 250,000 union jobs as part of cleanup efforts.

The budget request also includes $4 billion, a $600 million increase from the year before, for departmental tribal programs, such as schools, law enforcement and clean energy development. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the nation’s first-ever Senate confirmed Indigenous Cabinet secretary, has frequently emphasized her commitment to issues affecting Native communities.

“These investments would also complement the substantial investments in Indian Country provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, as well as other investments in the discretionary request that support and strengthen tribal communities,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the request.

Haaland added later on Friday that the funding proposal provides “much needed” funds to tribal nations.

“As our country faces the interlocking challenges of a global pandemic, economic downturn, racial injustice, and the climate crisis, Interior is committed to an all-of-government approach to build back better,” Haaland said in a statement. “President Biden’s funding request provides much-needed resources to Tribal Nations, prioritizes racial justice and equity, and invests in healthy lands, waters, and a clean energy economy that will create good-paying jobs.”

The budget request also aims to address wildfire prevention with $340 million toward hazardous fuels management and rehabilitation of burned areas. As part of the Biden administration’s efforts to expand environmental justice and equity, it would also put $20 million to expand access to national parks highlighting the history of underrepresented communities.

The budget request also contains investments in climate change across several agencies, including 1.7 billion in energy-saving upgrades to buildings through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and $600 million for electric vehicles and charging stations at agencies such as the General Services Administration.  

In the international arena, the White House is proposing putting $1.2 billion to helping developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change through the Green Climate Fund, which was established at a United Nations climate summit, and nearly $700 million in additional funding to help developing countries with climate and clean energy through the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. 

Updated at 11:25 a.m.

Tags biden budget Budget Climate change Deb Haaland Donald Trump Energy Department EPA Fiscal 2022 Interior Department Joe Biden Patrick Leahy White House

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