Apr 24, 2022
President Biden Delivers Remarks on Earth Day 4/22/22 Transcript
President Biden Delivers Remarks on Earth Day Making the Case for his Bold Agenda to Tackle the Climate Crisis, Safeguard Our Nation’s Forests, and Bolster Our Resilience in the Face of Threats like Wildfire 4/22/22. Read the transcript here.
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Joe Biden: (00:13)
… celebrate Earth Day, this magnificent park. I’ve only been here once before. I came to speak years ago. And on my own, I came up here to take a look. And it’s really quite beautiful. Governor Inslee, who is known, where I’m from, as the environmental governor and I’m Mayor Harley Senator Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, you got everybody here. You got representative Smith, Larson, DelBene, Schrier, and it’s an honor of being this beautiful park with y’all.
Joe Biden: (00:50)
[Everett Abbey 00:00:50], the writer who once worked as a park ranger, I didn’t know he had been right, a park ranger, tell you the truth, wrote the following: “Every man, every woman carries in heart and mind an image of an ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.” For many Saddle families, I think were in that place right now, here in this park, and places like this. There’re not that many like this, unfortunately. And all around this country, there used to be a hell of a lot more forests like this. But we’re doing everything we can, everybody behind me. And all of you want desperately to protect what we have and increase what we have.
Joe Biden: (01:35)
Our natural wonders, the reflection inspires to take action.
Joe Biden: (01:45)
My mother had an expression and I apologize to my colleagues. They’ve heard me do two things my whole career. Quote my Mother and Father. And quote Irish poets. But I’m not going to quote the Irish poet today. Okay? But she said, “Out of everything difficult, something good will come if you look hard enough for it.” And I think that we’re in one of those moments in world history and in American History, where we’ve reached the point that the crisis on the environment has become so obvious with the notable exception of the former president, that we really have an opportunity to do things we couldn’t have done two, five, 10 years ago.
Joe Biden: (02:24)
And I want to talk about that today with leaders who understand that to their core, the folks standing behind me. I wish you didn’t have to stand. Don’t you guys have any chairs or…
Joe Biden: (02:35)
I’m not used to them standing for me.
Joe Biden: (02:37)
Anyway, but here’s the deal. As I said, Governor Inslee is the climate governor. I’ve gone to him throughout asking him for advice and counsel. And thanks for welcoming me back to Washington State, Gov and to Mayor [Harrell 00:02:53] the passport to the city is very much appreciated. I hope I don’t do anything to have it revoked. And Congressman Smith, thank you for your commitment to the environment, including helping our armed forces transition to clean energy technologies.
Joe Biden: (03:07)
One of the things I’ve found out as the President of the United States, I get to spend a lot of that money. I get to decide where… No, I’m not joking. And we’re going to completely…
Joe Biden: (03:16)
I’m going to the process where every vehicle in the United States Military, every vehicle, is going to be climate-friendly. Every vehicle. No I’m mean it. We’re spending billions of dollars to do it. And it’s going to matter. It matters.
Joe Biden: (03:37)
In my view, this crisis is, as I said, is a genuine opportunity. An opportunity to do things we wanted to do. And only now, have become so apparent.
Joe Biden: (03:47)
On this day, 52 years ago, millions of Americans of every age and background rallied together on Earth Day. A guy I worked with as a young Senator back in those days was a guy named Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin. And the guy who helped organize Earth Day was a guy who was from Delaware, worked for me as well. And Mike McCabe. They had a vision, a vision for a healthier, more prosperous America. And over time they delivered, they delivered cleaner water, proof that sustainable environment can mean a stronger economy.
Joe Biden: (04:25)
And one of the things I’m proudest of in our Administration, before I went into detail with my, quote, “Green Agenda,” I got all the unions together. Literally got all the unions together because I said the unions view it as against their interest. And starting with the IBW Electric Workers, they endorsed it. And every union has stepped up because they figured it out. Their jobs. They’re the ones who can help us transition in ways like never before. It’s not going to cost them jobs. It’s going to increase jobs. The IBW’s going to be building 50, 000 electric charging stations all across America, for example.
Joe Biden: (05:06)
And so look, change continues today in a new generation of Americans helping us lead the way against the threat of climate change. Every time I get a little down, I don’t know about my colleagues, I suspect they’re the same, I just turn on the television or take a look at all the young people. This young generation is not going to put up with a lot of this stuff. No, they’re not. They are really, really energized. Whether it’s basic human rights or it’s the environment, they’re just not stopping. And from day one of my Administration, we’ve stood with them.
Joe Biden: (05:37)
Governor, hate to admit it, but I was part of that early Earth Day. I was only seven years old. God. Oh, my Lord. I can’t believe I said that. But anyway, it’s been a passion of mine, as long as I’ve been involved in public life. The first thing, what got me involved in politics, not that it matters to you all, but I was thinking about it on the way over here. I was a young attorney in Delaware and they wanted to, across the top of my state, they wanted to connect two highways. And it’s through what is the most beautiful part of the state. But instead of being willing to do it in an area that, in fact, had no consequence for the environment, they decided to put it through areas that were straighter but more damaging. And I got involved to try to stop the construction of that highway, which I did. That’s what got me involved. And it caused me great problems because I ended up having to run for the county council, which was the hardest job I ever had. [inaudible 00:06:43] Any rate.
Joe Biden: (06:44)
But as a matter of fact, in 1986 in the United States Senate, I introduced and we passed the first Global Climate Protection Act the first time. And it was a warming legislation in the Senate. And on Earth Day, we convened last year, over 40 leaders around the globe, reasserting America’s leadership on climate. After four years of administration denying that there was a climate crisis, denying that there was any need to do anything about the environment. And the commitments galvanized at that meeting, including our own goal of cutting emissions for 52% below 25 levels by 2030, and reaching net zero emissions by 2050, taking the steps the United States needs to limit the planet’s warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. And the rest of the world started to come along.
Joe Biden: (07:34)
We did more than set bold goals. We acted to achieve them. Last year with all the disappointments we faced, but last year, the United States deployed the most solar wind and battery storage in American history. And we made record-setting investments in clean energy in rural America. For example, we have a $1 billion program that no one knows about except the Department of Agriculture, that grants and loans for farmers and rural co-ops to deploy solar, and storage, and power lines to carry clean energy across-
Joe Biden: (08:03)
… deploy solar and storage and power lines to carry clean energy across the country. We are investing in technology so you can heat and cool your home when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Because out here in Silicon Valley, you’re developing the battery technology. They showed me one that’s about a little bit wider than this podium, about that thick and about this wide, that in fact you can install in your home. And when the sun ain’t shining, that stored electricity runs the whole deal. And by the way, by the way, windmills don’t cause cancer. And across the country, we have enough clean energy capacity to power now 56 million homes.
Joe Biden: (08:42)
Now here’s what we’re doing with automobiles. I’m an automobile buff. I have a ’68 Corvette that does nothing but pollute the air, but I don’t drive very much. But I brought together the automobile manufacturers and Mary Barry, who runs General Motors, is a fine, fine person. At the time, she was suing the state of California, General Motors, for their increased mileage requirements that exceeded the federal standard. Exceeded yes, the federal standard and the argument General Motors was making was, you couldn’t exceed the federal standard locally.
Joe Biden: (09:23)
We had a long talk, and I didn’t suggest it, but she dropped that suit and contacted me and said, ” I’m going to make a commitment.” I brought together the American automobile industry and they agreed on an ambitious goal. 50% electric vehicles sales by year 2030. That’s the commitment that they made. I didn’t make it for them. They made it. Because they realized what the future is. I saw it when I drove Ford’s all electric 150 pickup truck, which I might add, which was disappointing, it’s faster than my Corvette. You think I’m kidding?
Joe Biden: (09:55)
It’s a four turbo. Although I did suggest if I’m out of office and they have the first electric Corvette, I want to buy it. But anyway, and when I drove the electric Jeep Wagoneer around south lawn of the White House. To date, auto makers have announced investments in more than $100 billion in EV manufacturing, $100 billion. That’s along with us setting ambitious standards to cut pollution in cars and trucks to boost fuel economy standards, which are going to be announcing very soon, upping the mileage requirement for the minimum mileage requirement. But that’s not all. The bipartisan infrastructure law, which the folks behind me are the reason why that occurred, I signed provides billions of dollars for a nationwide network of 500,000 charging stations, 500,000. And with electric school buses, by the way, down in North Carolina, you should see the factory down there.
Joe Biden: (10:52)
These buses, they have electric vehicles. It has a platform folks from me to you about that thick, weighs about six zillion pounds, no engine, nothing else, that’s it. But it’s all electric, all electric. And guess what? We’re going to eliminate tens of thousands of diesel school buses, which pollute the air and pollute the lungs. And look, this industry and union workers are all stepping up and there’s a lot more. Here in Washington state, you’re going to triple the federal commitment to your link… We’re going to triple the federal commitment to your link light rail system, speeding progress in the largest transit…
Joe Biden: (11:35)
As my colleagues in the Senate will recall, I was referred to as Mr. Amtrak. I’ve taken over 1,200,000 miles in Amtrak commuting every single day. You think I’m joking. For 36 years, every single day the Senate was in session to go home and see my kids. But the folks, it’s a simple proposition. Most people don’t realize it. Given a choice to go from point A to point B on rail, electric rail, or drive your automobile. If you can get there fast, as fast or faster on rail, you take the rail. The estimates will take millions of vehicles off the road. The largest transit construction project in the country that runs entirely on clean energy. The bipartisan infrastructure will provide $66 billion, it’s passed $66 billion for freight rail, 39 billion for public transit, 10.6 billion for clean electric buses and 2.5 billion for clean fairies on my coast of Delaware and out here for you all.
Joe Biden: (12:40)
This will take millions of cars worth of pollution off the road and get people to places quicker. Look, I think one Amtrak train carries as many passengers, I know the statistics, as six lanes of a major interstate highway. That’s how many passengers it carries. Look, it matters. We saw new standards, we set new standards. We slashed methane and brought over 100 nations together when I was at the big meeting we had in Europe, hundred nations around the globe, and there’s two things I was able to accomplish. One, I got a pledge, a pledge from a hundred, I think it was 144 of them, that they would eliminate methane and do the same thing we’re doing to keep it. It’s the most damaging of all the pollutants that are going up.
Joe Biden: (13:28)
We also set new standards for super polluting HFC emissions. Remember the big fight we had? I know because when I almost lost an election because the DuPont Company makes… Long story. Anyway, but look, we set new standards for cleaner cement. You say, “What the hell are you talking about Joey?” This is probably the only audience to understand cleaner cement. Cement is an incredible pollutant, an incredible pollutant. And it matters because cement’s responsible for 8% of the global climate emissions. Cement. I got to admit to you, as long as I’ve been involved in this, until two years ago, I didn’t know that. And we’re delivering across the country. Lots of folks have promised it but my administration is actually delivering revitalizing communities across Appalachia. Look, folks, I come from Scranton, Pennsylvania where I was raised, the reason I got to Delaware as coal died, my dad was not in the coal mines, he was in sales, but the whole economy died.
Joe Biden: (14:25)
And you can understand why in places like West Virginia and Southeastern Pennsylvania, why people were worried about doing away with coal. But it’s their jobs. They wonder what they’re going to do. But guess what? In the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the law’s going to help us cap and seal abandoned mines. There’s thousands of abandoned mines, cap and seal them. They’re no longer going to seep pollution into the air of the water. The laws putting abandoned mine workers to work at the same salary they were working digging the mines in the first place. There’s several thousand of these wells that have to be capped and they have to harvest the energy and they’re going to get paid. So we’ve provided alternatives. They’re manufacturing and installing solar panels where they once dug for coal.
Joe Biden: (15:13)
Look, out here in the west, we’re re-powering retired power plants and clean hydrogen, advanced nuclear, making them economic hubs again. And in the Heartland and the fields that feed our country, we’re planning cover crops to pull carbon out of the air and out of the atmosphere. They’re becoming carbon sinks. Look, across the country we set the first national conservation goal and protecting more land and water than any other administration and record in our first year because we can do it. And now the farmers are beginning to realize, if I put things in conservation, I get paid for putting cover crops down that absorb carbon. It makes sense to me. It keeps the land open and it makes the environment much better. And they get paid for it and they should get paid for it. It’s their land.
Joe Biden: (16:03)
… and much better and they get paid for it and they should get paid for, it’s their land. We’re protecting natural wonders and cultural treasures, national monuments. I remember a little girl came up to me with her, I don’t know where, how it happened, but I was walking outside and a woman came up with her little girl and said, she said, “Mr. President, please protect Bears Ears.” I said, “I beg your pardon, honey.” “I said please protect Bears Ears.” I said, “Bears Ears.” She said, “Yes,” and I knew what Bears Ears was because I’ve tried to take my kids in almost every national park and I said, “Okay, honey.” She said, “Promise me, promise me,” and we did. Bears Ears [inaudible 00:16:45]
Joe Biden: (16:48)
And by the way, we got some of the conservative Republicans to support it in their state. We got some support for it and now we’re working to restore the salmon runs here in the Northwest. Look, we’re putting America on the cutting edge. We’ve approved the first commercial scale offshore wind project in federal waters which is already broken ground with US workers and US steel are going to be building these facilities. By the way I was up in Colorado and looking at the facilities we have there. We now have windmills that the blades in those windmills 102 yards long. Hear me, 102 yards long. They can be placed way out in the ocean and by the way, I made it clear to my friends up in Nantucket and that area, I don’t want to hear anymore about you don’t like looking at them. They’re pretty, but seriously, it’s incredible the breakthroughs that are making. Once you tell a nation that we can do this, go do it, it’s amazing what happens. It’s amazing what happens. We’ve launched the first ever commercial flight power by 100% sustainable aviation fuel, lifted off with fuel grown here in America, grown in America. We set the first net zero commitments for US steel companies and now we’re rewarded for clean air, clean production through our first ever international carbon bays trade deal, which makes clean American steel cheaper to buy than dirty steel from other countries. We’re making it clear to the rest of the world that’s what we’re going to do. We put environmental justice to the center of what we do, addressing the disproportionate health, environmental and economic impact that have been born primarily by communities of color, places too often left behind. I grew up, when Cole died in Scranton we moved to Delaware where my dad had grown up. We moved to a little steel town called Claymont, Delaware, which was right at arch that goes up into the Pennsylvania area there.
Joe Biden: (18:56)
It’s near a place called Marcus Hook, where there were more at the time, more oil refineries than in Houston, than Houston because of 10 million people in that Delaware Valley up there. I went to a small little school that was about a mile from the apartment complex we lived in and a little school called Holy Rosary and you couldn’t walk to school because although it was a four lane access highway it was just too dangerous to cross some of the streets. My mother would get in the… And when it came spring, I mean it came the fall, this is the God’s truth, and you’d get in the car and the little frost on the window, turn on the windshield wiper there’d be an oil slick. Not a joke. I have asthma and 80% of the people who in fact we grew up with have asthma.
Joe Biden: (19:44)
That’s what you call a fence line community. I understand what it’s like. We only live there. I went to school there for 12 years, but I didn’t live there that whole time. My generic point is you take a look, my state used to be, thank God it’s no longer, had the highest cancer rate of any state in the nation because we have fence line communities going down Route 9, going down along the Delaware River, major facilities, oil plants and the like. The people that get hurt are the people who live on the other side of those fences. I made a commitment, they’re the people who are going to get helped as we move this. They’re the people where the money’s going to go to help their neighborhoods and this Bipartisan Infrastructure Law gives communities the money they need to get forever chemicals, PFAS off out of the water.
Joe Biden: (20:31)
They’re deadly, deadly, and a lot of its responsible because we, the government and the military has engaged in activities that we didn’t realize how it danger over the years, but we’re going to get rid of it all. We started replacing 100%, 100% of all the lead pipes and poison that poison our water in America. 400,000 schools and daycare centers, the kids can’t turn on that water without getting we’re worried about whether there’s lead in that water, 10 million homes in America, and here in this city, in this state, because every American and every child should be able to turn on a faucet and drink clean water, which will also create thousands of good paying jobs for plumbers and pipe fitters and others. Look, all I got to do is look around, cities and states are acting. Businesses are acting. I’m acting.
Joe Biden: (21:22)
We need Congress to act as well and the people behind me are pushing Congress hard. They’re pushing Congress hard. Fallen in the past new investments and tax credits aimed directly at lowering costs for families. Look, you talk about, a couple, there’s only two senators who occasionally don’t vote with me. That’s right. Literally 48, they talk about the split in the Democratic Party. There’s virtually no split in the Democratic Party. We just happen to have 50 presidents, you have 50 senators and 50 Democrats, 50 Republicans. I mean anyone can change the dynamic, but all kidding aside, 48% of my Democratic colleagues in the Senate vote with me 94% of the time. So it’s not like we have a split, but we don’t have, we have virtually no Republicans. There’s some we get up to as many as seven or eight will vote.
Joe Biden: (22:17)
This ain’t your father’s Republican party. Not a joke. All you got to do is look what that is being played on, played this morning about the tape that was released anyway, but all kidding aside, this is a mega party now. You got the senator from Texas and others, these guys are a different breed of cat. They’re not like what I served with for so many years. The people who know better are afraid to act correctly because they know they’ll be primary. I’ve had, I won’t mention any, I promised I never would and I won’t, but up to six come to me and say, Joe, I want to be with you on such and such, but I can’t, I’ll be primary. I’ll lose my race. I’ll lose my race. So folks we got, this is going to start to change.
Joe Biden: (23:10)
Look, that bill that we talked about that is the Infrastructure Bill, there were two pieces of it. It was one bill initially. And that bill had about $800 million in it for environmental related issues. Well, the one that didn’t pass, the part that didn’t pass yet is one that has $531 million for environmental related issue. We got a lot done though in the bill that passed, called the Infrastructure Bill that has to do with the environment, including tax credits for purchase of electric and fuel cell vehicles. Now no are used, but you’re going to save typical driving about $80 a month from not having to pay gas at the pump, tax credits for folks to buy solar panels that heat pumps, more efficient windows, saving each an average of $500 a year to do this.
Joe Biden: (24:03)
…an average of $500 a year to do this, just making your home tighter so you don’t leak the heat and leak the air conditioning you’re going out. And my pen’s ready. My pen’s ready to sign. I’m anxious to sign this. Get some of these bills to my desk. And we can’t forget… We can’t forget that achieving our ambitious climate goals are going to require nature itself to play a role. If you compare the map of North America in 1620, and we have some of these maps, with America today, you’ll see how much we’ve devastated our forest. I mean, it used to be if you’d look, from the Atlantic Coast almost to the Mississippi River was heavy forest. And we took it all down over those years. That’s why, today, I’m signing an executive order to conserve our forest that do so much to protect us. Our forest are our planet’s lungs. They literally are recycling and cycling CO2 out of the atmosphere. That’s what they do. By the way, more the… I spent time down in the Amazon, and in Columbia, and in Brazil. And guess what? More carbon is taken out of the air in the Amazon, that carbon sink, than every bit of carbon that is generated on a daily basis in the entire United States from every source.
Joe Biden: (25:31)
So what we should be doing, and I’m trying to get done, they’re not going to maybe like this, we should be paying the Brazilians not to cut down their forest. We got to cut ours down. We got to cut ours down. We got the benefit of it, because we’ve got these third-world countries, not third-world, some are, in Africa and in South America, we got to… The industrial countries have to help. Sciences estimate that the protection and restoration of our natural lands and waters can provide more than one third of the solution to climate change. Just that, if we did nothing else.
Joe Biden: (26:07)
So today, I’m about to sign an executive order to strengthen our forest on federal lands, and make them and the local economies they support more resilient in the face of wildfires. I’ve flown over every major wildfire in this country with FEMA, since… Not every. A couple, I didn’t, but the vast majority of them, and it’s devastating. I’ve seen it from helicopters with FEMA, just flying over here and Idaho. I didn’t get to go to Oregon, but California. It’s absolutely devastating. So we’re going to work with state and local and tribal governments to map, catalog, and then conserve old-growth forest on our public lands. These are the forests… We’re going to do this. These are the forests that store, sequester incredible amounts of carbon and help us fight climate change. The forest that are home to majestic trees, like the ones here in this park’s magnificent forest.
Joe Biden: (27:06)
The executive order I’m going to sign is going to make good on the international forest protection commitments from the proposal I made in Scotland at Glasgow 26. I got 140 countries to sign up and say, that together… And we represent 90% of the world’s forest, and this includes our own effort to crack down on trafficking of illegal logged wood and products like the ones illegally deforesting areas around the world. In addition to that, I put in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that we’re going to plant 1.2 billion trees, 1.2 billion trees across this country to begin the vital work of reforesting America. It makes sense and it also makes a big difference, including in our cities and on our city streets.
Joe Biden: (27:56)
The executive order also recognizing when it comes to protecting our communities from floods and storms, nature can help us as well. For example, when it comes to stopping flooding, sometimes a wetland is more effective than a sea wall. I live along a state where it’s only the average three feet above sea level, the state of Delaware, the Delaware River, the Delaware Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. Well, you saw what happened, by the way, down in the Gulf. You saw what happened in Louisiana, when they had that… It matters whether or not there’s a wetlands. They’re significantly more consequential than sea walls. In order to help bring more of those nature-based solutions into our planning, we have to move quickly.
Joe Biden: (28:33)
And with this executive order on Earth Day, we’re also showing this moment of maximum threat and urgency can also be a moment of enormous hope and enormous opportunity, that we carry in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, action or visionary. I know you all feel it. You wouldn’t be sitting here in the cold with your coats you’ve got on not if you didn’t. So I’m now going to sign this executive order, and I think we’re going to make… I just think this is the beginning of a new day, and we’re going to just have to overtake the opposition on this. I really mean it. So thank you all for being here. I’m going to sign this executive order.
Joe Biden: (29:15)
Strengthening the nation’s forest communities and local economies, and it’s all about planting about a billion and 200 million trees, so. And by the way, anybody bring their shovels? All right. Is this a state park or is this a city park?
Speaker 2: (29:52)
Speaker 1: (29:52)
Joe Biden: (29:53)
Mayor Bruce Harrell: (29:54)
Speaker 1: (29:54)
It’s my tribal land.
Joe Biden: (29:55)
Let me give this over [crosstalk 00:29:57].
Mayor Bruce Harrell: (29:57)
Right here, right here.
Speaker 2: (29:58)
Right here. He’s right behind you.
Mayor Bruce Harrell: (29:58)
Joe Biden: (29:58)
There you go.
Speaker 2: (29:59)
All right. Nice job, Bruce.
Mayor Bruce Harrell: (30:00)