Sep 14, 2021
Joe Biden Build Back Better Infrastructure Speech Transcript
President Joe Biden gave a speech on his Build Back Better infrastructure agenda in Colorado on September 14, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:01)
Thank you very much, Julian. Governor, and I want to thank you as well for all you do know. And the IBW is one of the outfits, as they say in Claymont, Delaware, [inaudible 00:00:20] brung me to the dance. And they’re the best in the world, and a really great seeing y’all working together.
President Joe Biden: (00:30)
Dr. Keller and the [inaudible 00:00:32] Team. Thanks for welcoming me here. And Governor, it’s good to see you again, and your whole team. Lieutenant Governor Primavera, Attorney General, Secretary of State, you got Mayor Hancock. I think he’s here. He was here. I thought I saw him earlier today. I want to thank you for the welcome to Denver, and for making the trip out here. And to my friends in Congress, Chairman Baker, thank you for being here. My team, we have Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who I always say, were she born in America and not Canada, she’d be standing here as president, but she’s doing a heck of a job for me, and for the country, and a proud electric car driver as well. And also a former Secretary and former Mayor of Denver, Frederica Pena, a good friend of mine whose here, there you go Fred, good to see you, pal.
President Joe Biden: (01:25)
While I couldn’t be here. I wanted to mention that the Senator and my nominee for ambassador to Mexico is Ken Salazar. And I’m glad to see Congressman [inaudible 00:01:37] and [inaudible 00:01:40]. I want to thank you all. You have other places to be, I know, and three good friends who wanted to be here in Washington today right now. And so, there’s a lot in Senator Bennett and Hickenlooper, and Congressman [inaudible 00:01:56], they’re all in Washington, doing what they have to do. When you look at who you’ve heard from, it’s clear whether you’re an engineer or at a lab bench or an IBW worker, working on a turbine. When you work for a power company or a small construction business, everyone has a role to play. And everyone is building a clean energy future, and a stronger economy, because that’s what it’s about. And we need everyone’s contributions. We need everyone’s contributions.
President Joe Biden: (02:31)
Yesterday, I saw firsthand the devastation of the Caldor fire in California, we flew over it in the helicopter. And the last two weeks I traveled Louisiana, New York and New Jersey, see the destruction from Hurricane Ida. More people killed in New York with flooding, 20 inches of rain and what’s happened up there, than were killed when 178 mile an hour winds hit Louisiana. Extreme weather as we’re seeing is only going to come more frequently, and with more ferocity, and we’re blinking code red as a nation, we really are. So far this year, nationwide there were 44,000 wildfires that have burned nearly 5.6 million acres. That’s the size of the entire state of New Jersey burned flat. They’ve caused billions of dollars in damage and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and businesses.
President Joe Biden: (03:27)
And even if it’s not in your backyard, you feel the effects, as you mentioned earlier. You turn on the local weather in addition to the tide, and what the temperature is, and what the precipitation would be, you want to know what the smoke forecast is going to be. When parents fear letting their kid out to play outside it may trigger an asthma attack. You saw the vicious cycle this summer when heavy rains combined with the burn scar of 2020 Grizzly Creek fire. It resulted in mudslides, as it was pointed out that washed out an entire section of Interstate 70, adding hours of people’s drives, and cutting off a vital commercial artery.
President Joe Biden: (04:07)
The bottom line is: it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere. Communities that nearly one in three Americans call home have been struck by weather disasters in just the past few months. Hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and up the Eastern Seaboard, wildfires threatening throughout the west and tearing it apart. Droughts and heat waves across the country, devastating farmers, and ranchers, and draining the Colorado River. In addition to the loss lives, live shattered, extreme weather cost America last year, $99 billion. $99 billion extreme weather costs last year. And it’s going to break the record this year; it’s going to be well over $100 billion.
President Joe Biden: (04:53)
We know what the driver is: climate change. We know what’s causing climate change: human activity. This is no longer subject to debate. And I might add, windmills do not cause cancer. Look, we got to get real about what’s going on. I really mean 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 climate change is current today, not next year, not 10 years from now. And we have to make investments that are going to slow our contributions to climate change today, not tomorrow. And here’s the good news; something that is caused by humans can be solved by humans. I’ve set a course for the United States to achieve 50 to 52% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2030. And for us to reach that net zero emissions in the economy, economy-wide across the board by 2050. As part of that, I set a goal of having our country produce 100% carbon pollution-free power by 2035. We can do that. We can do all of this in a way that creates good jobs, lowers cost to consumers and businesses. It makes us global leaders in an entirely new industry that other countries are really working hard to try to dominate.
President Joe Biden: (06:30)
I just toured the Renewable Energy Lab, which I hadn’t been here… Not the same lab, but I haven’t been here since 2011, which was started under President Carter, and expanded under President HW Bush leaders of both parties have recognized that clean energy future is an economic imperative, and a national security imperative, and an environmental imperative. That’s why my Build Back Better Plan calls for significant new investments and upgrading research infrastructures, laboratories all across the country. We’ll be making one of those breakthroughs in solar, wind and storage out of these facilities. Out-innovate the rest of the world, drive down the cost of renewable energy. Of course, we have to invest in the future, we need to deploy cutting edge technologies and we have to employ them today, not tomorrow.
President Joe Biden: (07:23)
I had a chance to see the state of your wind turbine testing and new battery technologies. Because of the years of work that have taken place here, and these technologies aren’t science fiction. They’re ready to be installed and scaled up across the country right now, by union members like the ones we heard from the day. And that’s what we’re going to do. As we just heard from the CEO of Excel Energy, they set a goal of producing 100% carbon emission free power. They’re the first major utility to set that goal. And today over 20 large facilities around the nation have set a similar goal. You led the way.
President Joe Biden: (08:08)
Today, one of every three Americans, those are the city or a state transitioning to clean energy, clean energy electricity. But folks, we have to pick up the pace. When I rejoined the Paris Climate Accord after we had been pulled out of it, the goal set when our last administration, the Obama-Biden administration, when that was set, they were set that we had more time. We don’t have the time now. The goals are different because the necessity is there. We don’t have a lot of time. We didn’t have much more than 10 years. For real. And this is a decisive decade. Already the price of solar generation in this country has dropped 80% over the past decade. 80%, the price of a wind turbine generation has dropped 55%. A lot is because of the investments we made in the Recovery Act back when I was Vice President. And today, renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the country.
President Joe Biden: (09:13)
Now we need to take the next step of continuing to drive prices down and job creation up, because those renewable goals create demand for more wind turbines, and more solar installations, which means good jobs for workers like Julian and his union brothers and sisters. And you can see why I think the climate change, when I think of it, I think: jobs. I had a meeting with over 140 heads of state on Zoom and we hosted in out of the White House. And one of the things by the time I finished, everyone was talking about jobs. It’s not about costing jobs. Initially, as you remember, even you guys, I spent a lot of time before I announced my plan meeting with all of you to convince you all that this is the future. These are where the jobs are. When I say, “Jobs,” I’m not talking about $15 an hour. Am I not speaking loudly enough? I can see you having trouble hearing me back there. I’m talking about union jobs, not 15, 20 bucks an hour; 45, 50 bucks an hour. Benefits. That’s going to grow the country too. I’ve never seen the wealthy do poorly when the middle class does well, that’s never happened.
President Joe Biden: (10:28)
So to accelerate that process, we need to invest and innovate. We need a modern electric grid, one that is much higher capacity, more resilient transmission wires, and has more storage capacity. Using advanced batteries, so we can hold on to surplus energy generated when the sun’s not shining, and the wind’s not blowing. Right now, it’s going to rain. No. Right now, we’ve got transmission projects that could carry enough power for millions of homes, but they need catalytic investment to move to the construction phase. Our bipartisan infrastructure bill contains the largest federal investment in power transmission in our history. So that our grid is more reliable, we can carry more renewable energy, so we can create good union jobs building that new grid. We’re also making dramatic investments in public transit, electric buses, charging stations. In Denver, we’re going to help Mayor Hancock achieve his goal of reducing greenhouse gases in the city by 80%, it’s going to create jobs.
President Joe Biden: (11:35)
We know the local 68 Apprentice Center is busy training workers to be able to perform. And by the way, I’m bringing the automakers, including the Big Three and the UAW along, so we have more electric vehicles on the road, and fewer tailpipe emissions in the air. We’re going to cap thousands of abandoned oil wells and gas wells leaking methane, threatening public health and communities, and get paid the same price for capping them as it was the dig them. We’re going to provide support to make our communities, including tribal nations, much more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Every dollar we invest to floodproof a power station, install power lines underground, winterize a power plant, or to build an advanced turbines like the ones here, every dollar we spend save $6 down the road, because the next time a disaster strikes flooding is contained, the fire doesn’t spread as widely, the power stays on.
President Joe Biden: (12:35)
And these investments can also save lives, save homes, and create good paying jobs for Americans to make our country stronger and more resilient. In fact, experts tell us that the bipartisan agreement we’ve reached in the American Infrastructure Bill will put 800,000 people to work. 800,000. Including plumbers, pipe fitters, electrical workers, steel workers. Modernizing roads, bridges, water systems, broadband systems, making high speed internet available to 85,000 Coloradoans who currently don’t have it. That’s what’s in the Infrastructure Bill. That’s already agreed to. And we’re negotiating right now from my plan to Build Back Better, which includes additional action to address climate crisis. It includes tax credits that will effectively cut the cost of building utility scale solar farms by 30%, shorten the time it takes for residential scale solar systems to pay for themselves in around eight years, and instead of eight in less than five years. Save consumers 1,250 bucks for electric vehicle like a Ford F-150. By the way, zero to 60 in 4.1, that’s a different… Help us reach the goal of half of new cars sold in America will be electric by 2030, saving billions of gallons of gasoline.
President Joe Biden: (13:50)
And I want to create a Civilian Climate Corp. I’ve been pushing that for a long time. Similar to the Conservation Corps that President Roosevelt created during the Great Depression, put a new generation of Americans to work, helping us connect and conserve our public lands, and become resilient in the process. Yesterday, I visited the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho, where we coordinate our federal fire response to the wildfires. They told me that the Civilian Climate Corp would make an enormous difference by cleaning away combustible underbrush that enable fires and spread, by planting trees to fight climate change.
President Joe Biden: (14:28)
In the end, it’s not about red states or blue states. A drought or a fire doesn’t see a property line. It doesn’t give a damn for 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 do it. Yes, we face a crisis. We face a crisis with an unprecedented opportunity; to create good jobs, to teach you to create industries of the future, to win the future, to save the planet. Ladies and gentleman, we can do this. This is the United States of America. There has never been a problem we faced, when we set our mind to deal with, that we haven’t been able to… I mean, it literally. Never have we failed to meet an objective we set. And what’s happening now with both the industry, government, unions, people around the country is that we set a goal, and the goal is achievable. And I promise you, I promise you, it’s going to create great economic growth, reduce inflation, and put people in a place where those beautiful children in the back are never going to have to worry about what we’re worrying about right now.
President Joe Biden: (15:46)
So thank you. Remember, there’s not a damn thing we’re unable to do in America when come together. Never, ever have we failed, and we’re not going to fail now because of all of you. Thank you for everything.
Speaker 2: (16:03)
President Joe Biden: (16:03)
Thanks everybody. I really mean it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.