Jan 27, 2021
Joe Biden Speech on Climate Change Agenda, Public Oil & Gas Leases Transcript January 27
President Joe Biden gave remarks on his administration’s plans to combat climate change on January 27, 2021. He also discussed his executive order stopping new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore watersRead the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
President Biden: (00:01)
They let you off campus, huh?
Speaker 1: (00:05)
President Biden: (00:07)
Good afternoon, everybody. I know the press has just had a long session with the team here about what I’m talking about today and this afternoon. And let me just start by saying I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the three people standing next to me here for what they’ve agreed to do to help. Particularly my best buddy, John Kerry, asking a former secretary of state to come back and do this. And it’s been, as I know, it was a big ask on the part of myself. I was going to blame Kamala for it as well, but for both of us, but John’s been deeply involved. The secretary’s been deeply involved in climate issues as a Senator and one of the leaders of the legislators as well. And I don’t think anybody knows more about the issue and the damage that’s been done by some of the executive orders of the previous administration and Jean you’ve run everything Jean, thank you very much.
President Biden: (01:05)
Let me get to it. Today is climate day at the White House, which means that today is job’s day at the White House. We’re talking about American innovation, American products, American labor, and we’re talking about the health of our families and cleaner water, cleaner air, and cleaner communities. We’re talking about national security, America leading the world in a clean energy future. It’s a future of enormous hope and opportunity. It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that’s now facing us, climate change, with a greater sense of urgency. In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis and we can’t wait any longer. We see it with our own eyes, we feel it, we know it in our bones and it’s time to act.
President Biden: (01:59)
And I might speak parenthetically, if you notice the attitude of the American people toward greater impetus on focusing on climate change and doing something about it has increased across the board, Democrat, Republican, independent. That’s why I’m signing today an executive order to supercharge our administration’s ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change, it is an existential threat. Last year, wildfires burned more than 5,000 acres in the West, as no one knows better than the vice-president, former Senator from California. An area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey. More intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled states across the Gulf Coast and along the East coast. I can testify to that from Delaware. Historic floods, severe droughts have ravaged the Midwest. More American see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, coastlines, and in farmlands in red States and in blue States. And the defense department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two thirds of the military’s operational critical installations, two thirds.
President Biden: (03:17)
And so this could well be on the conservative side. And many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once. It’s not just the pandemic that keeps people inside, it’s poor air quality. Multiple studies have shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from COVID-19. And just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis because there is a climate crisis. We must lead global response because neither challenge can be met, as Secretary Kerry has pointed out many times, by the United States alone. We know what to do. We’ve just got to do it. When we think of climate change, we think of it, this is a case where conscious and convenience cross paths. We’re dealing with this existential threat to the planet and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one in the same.
President Biden: (04:21)
When I think of climate change and the answers to it, I think of jobs. A key plank of our build back better recovery plan is building a modern resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good paying union jobs, not seven, eight, 10, $12 an hour, but prevailing wage and benefits. We can put millions of Americans to work modernizing our water systems, transportation, our energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme climate. We’ve already reached a point where we’re going to have to live with what it is now. That’s going to require a lot of work all by itself, without it getting any worse. We think of renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers racing to lead the global market. We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.
President Biden: (05:19)
And I want to parenthetically thank the secretary of agriculture for helping to put together that program during the campaign. We see small business and master electricians designing, installing, and innovating energy conserving technologies and building homes and buildings. And we’re going to reduce electric consumption to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs in the process. And when the previous administration reversed the Obama Biden vehicle standard and picked big oil companies over American workers, the Biden Harris administration will not only bring those standards back, we’ll set new ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet. We see these workers building new buildings, installing 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across the country as we modernize our highway system to adapt to the changes that have already taken place. We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives and the residents of our cities and towns breathing cleaner air and fewer kids living with asthma and dying from it.
President Biden: (06:29)
And not only that, the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles, as you all know. With today’s executive order, combined with the Buy American executive order I signed on Monday, we’re going to harness the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean zero emission vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America. With everything I just mentioned, this’ll mean 1 million new jobs in the American automobile industry, 1 million. And we’ll do another thing. We’ll take steps towards my goal of achieving 100% carbon pollution free electric sector by 2035, transforming the American electric sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be a tremendous spur of job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century, not to mention the benefits to our health and to our environment. Already 84% of all new electric capacity planned to come onto the electric grid this year is clean energy, clean energy.
President Biden: (07:37)
Why? Because it’s affordable, because it’s clean, because in many cases it’s cheaper, and they’re keeping up. We’re going to need scientists, the national labs, land grant universities, historical black colleges and universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit clean electricity across distances and battery technology and a whole range of other things. We need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them. We need iron workers and welders to install them. Technologies they invent, design, and build will ultimately become cheaper than any other kind of energy, helping us dramatically expand our economy and create more jobs with a cleaner, cleaner environment. And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of those technologies, creating even more jobs. I’m going to build 1.5 million new energy efficient homes and public housing units that are going to benefit communities three times over. One, by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, two, by increasing energy efficiency, and three, by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.
President Biden: (08:55)
We’re also going to create more than a quarter million jobs to do things like plug the millions of abandoned oil and gas wells that pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities. There are abandoned wells. They’re open now, and we’re going to put people to work. They’re not going to lose jobs in these areas, we’re going to create jobs. They’re going to be here prevailing wage to cap those over a million wells. These aren’t pie in the sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions, and we know how to do this. The Obama Biden administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool. We need solar energy, cost competitive with traditional energy. Weatherizing more we made it become cost competitive, weatherizing more than a million homes.
President Biden: (09:48)
The recovery act of the democratic administration made record clean energy investments, $90 billion, the president had asked me to make sure how that money was spent on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing. Now the Biden Harris administration is going to do it again and go beyond. The executive order I’ll be signing to established a White House office of domestic climate policy. And it’ll be led by one of America’s most distinguished climate leaders, former EPA director, Gina McCarthy. As the head of the new office and my national climate advisor, Gina will chair the national climate task force made up of many members of our cabinet to deliver a whole government approach to the climate crisis. It’s not time for small measures. We need to be bold. So let me be clear, that includes helping revitalizing the economies of coal, oil, and gas and power plant communities. We have to start by creating new good paying jobs, capping those abandoned wells, reclaiming mines, turning old brownfield sites in the new hubs of economic growth, creating new good paying jobs in those communities where those workers live because they helped build this country.
President Biden: (11:07)
We’re never going to forget the men and women who dug the coal and built the nation. We’re going to do right by them. Make sure they have opportunities to keep building the nation in their own communities and getting paid well for it. While the whole of government approach is necessary, though, it’s not sufficient. We’re going to work with mayors and governors and tribal leaders and businesses leaders who are stepping up and the young people organizing and leading the way. My message to those young people is you have the full capacity and power of the federal government. Your government is going to work with you. Now today’s executive order also directs the secretary of the interior to stop issuing new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters, wherever possible. We’re going to review and reset the oil and gas leasing program.
President Biden: (11:57)
Like the previous administration, we’ll start to properly manage… Unlike it, we’re going to start to properly manage lands and waterways in ways that allow us to protect, preserve them, the full value that they provide for us for future generations. Let me be clear, and I know this always comes up. We’re not going to ban fracking. We’ll protect jobs and grow jobs, including through stronger standards like controls from methane leaks and union workers willing to install the changes. Unlike previous administrations, I don’t think the federal government should give handouts to big oil to the tune of $40 billion in fossil fuel subsidies. And I’m going to be going to the Congress asking them to eliminate those subsidies. We’re going to take money and invest it in clean energy jobs in America, millions of jobs in wind solar and carbon capture. In fact, today’s action is going to help us increase renewable energy production from offshore wind and meet our obligation to be good stewards of our public lands.
President Biden: (13:04)
It establishes a new modern day civilian climate corp that I called for when I was campaigning, to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods. Look, this executive order I’m signing today also makes it official that climate change will be the center of our national security and foreign policy. Secretary Kerry, as our special presidential onboard for climate, with him, the world knows how serious I am by appointing one of America’s most distinguished statesman, and one of my closest friends speaking for America, in one of the most pressing threats of our time. John was instrumental in negotiating the Paris climate agreement that this administration rejoined on day one, as I promised, and today’s executive order strengthen that commitment by working with other nations to support the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and to increase our collective resilience.
President Biden: (14:08)
That includes a summit of world leaders that I’ll convene to address this climate crisis on earth day, this year. In order to establish a new effort to integrate the security implications of climate change as part of our national security risk assessment and analysis will also so be included. With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do, addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color, so-called fence line communities, especially those communities, Brown, Black, Native American, poor whites. It’s hard, the hard hit areas like Cancer Alley in Louisiana, or the Route Nine Carter in the state of Delaware. That’s why we’re going to work to make sure that they receive 40% of the benefits of key federal investments in clean energy, clean water, and wastewater infrastructure. Lifting up these communities makes us all stronger as a nation and increases the health of everybody.
President Biden: (15:15)
Finally, as with our fight against COVID-19, we will listen to the science and protect the integrity of our federal response to the climate crisis. Earlier this month, I nominated Dr. Eric Lander, a brilliant scientist who is here today to be the director of the office of science and technology. I also nominated another brilliant scientist, Dr. Francis Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber to co-chair the president’s council of advisors on science and technology, so-called PCAST, that president Eisenhower started six weeks after the launch of Sputnik. It’s a team of America’s top scientists charged with asking the most American of questions, what next? What’s the next big breakthrough? And then helping us make the impossible possible. Today, I’m signing a presidential memorandum, making it clear that we will protect our world-class scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely and directly to me, the vice-president and the American people.
President Biden: (16:27)
To summarize this executive order, it’s about jobs, good paying union jobs. It’s about workers building our economy back better than before. It’s a whole of government approach put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy. It’s advancing conservation, revitalizing communities in cities and on the farm lands, and securing and environmental justice. Our plans are ambitious, but we are America. We’re bold, we’re unwavering in the pursuit of jobs and innovation, science, and discovery. We can do this. We must do this. And we will do this. I’m now going to sign the executive order to meet the climate crisis with American jobs and American ingenuity. And I want to thank you all. I’m going to go over and sign that now.
President Biden: (17:16)
The first order I’m signing is tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad. This next one to restoring trust in government through science and integrity and evidence-based policymaking. And this last one is the president’s council of advisors on science and technology established. Thank you all for your time.
Speaker 3: (18:43)
Sir, what sacrifices are you asking Americans to make?
Speaker 4: (18:45)
Mr. President, will you declare a national emergency on climate change?
Speaker 3: (18:50)
Sir, after the Republican vote… Do you still support impeachment trial sir? Still supporting impeachment trial sir? Thank you, sir.
Speaker 4: (18:54)
Guys, do you want to call Angela? We’re going to…