President Biden is expected to pledge that the U.S. will cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 at Thursday’s virtual climate summit, but Republican lawmakers counter that the aggressive target will harm struggling Americans by killing jobs and raising energy costs.
Biden plans to tackle climate legislation through his $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill, which in addition to rebuilding aging highways, bridges, and rail lines, will invest billions into boosting the electric vehicle market, building energy-efficient homes, and developing technology to mitigate climate change.
According to the Biden Administration, the bill, which has been dubbed the American Jobs Plan, is an investment into the nation that will “create millions of good jobs,” and address climate inequalities with “clean infrastructure investments” into disadvantaged communities.
The bill plans to create equity by replacing 100% of the nation’s lead pipes and modernizing clean water systems through grants to disadvantaged communities, incentivizing Americans to buy electric vehicles with sales rebates and tax incentives that make purchasing clean energy vehicles more affordable, and plugging orphan oil and gas wells in hard-hit communities.
To fund the astronomically expensive proposal, the administration plans to eliminate tax credits and subsidies for fossil fuel producers and raise the corporate tax rate to 28%.
“It’s like a Trojan horse,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said of the massive bill. “It’s called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan horse it’s going to be more borrowed money, and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.”
Critics insist that the bill is a government overreach that will reduce private infrastructure investment and replace them with politically selected proposals.
“The plan represents a huge power grab for the federal government, potentially the largest in decades,” commented David Ditch, budget and transportation associate at the Heritage Foundation. “The infrastructure portion alone would mean federal involvement in projects that are at the heart of local governance, such as school construction and water systems.”
There is also growing concern that Biden’s pledge to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050 will spike energy prices by eliminating tax breaks on fossil fuels, which will adversely affect low-income families by raising the cost of heating homes and fueling gas-powered cars.
Gregory Wrightstone, the executive director of the CO2 Coalition, said the administration’s climate agenda is designed to “get coal-fired and natural gas-fired electricity prices high enough that then solar and wind become competitive.”
Biden’s investment into electric vehicles also poses problems, by the end of 2019, there were only 7.2 million on the road, in 2030 there will be an estimated 250 million. With the growing demand for electric cars, comes increased need for the lithium-ion batteries that power them.
Lithium-ore is a rare Earth metal found predominantly in South America, which holds over half the world’s supply. Extracting a metric ton of lithium requires 500,000 gallons of water, and in Chile mining activities have already consumed 65% of the region’s available water.
The chemicals used to extract the ore have been known to cause air and soil contamination, and Lithium is notoriously difficult to recycle. In Australia, which holds the second-largest reserve, only two percent of the 3,300 metric tons of lithium-ion waste is recycled, the rest ends up in landfills.
Instead of worrying about climate equality, the Biden administration should try to avoid eco- hypocrisy before investing billions into programs and technologies that will harm Americans and the environment.