Biden touts need for bolder response to climate change

President visited NREL lab in north Jeffco on Tuesday

President Joe Biden speaks on Tuesday in Jefferson County.
President Joe Biden speaks on Tuesday in Jefferson County.
Photo courtesy of YouTube

“Folks, we've got to pick up the pace.”

That was US President Joe Biden's message as he spoke Tuesday, Sept. 14, about his plans to address climate change while creating new jobs during a visit to the National Renewable Energy Lab's Flatirons campus located just north of the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge in Jefferson County.

During his roughly 15-minute speech, Biden touted the need for the Federal government to set more ambitious goals for reducing emissions and addressing climate change then were set even by the Obama administration in which he served as Vice President.

“When those were set, (sic) we had more time,” said Biden. “We don't have that time now. The goals are different because the necessity is there … We don't have much more than 10 years, for real.”

Among the new goals set by Biden is for the nation to reach 100% carbon-free power by 2030. Biden said he also recently announced a new target for the country to reduce its carbon emissions by between 50 and 52% by 2050.

Biden said the need to take bolder, more aggressive steps to address climate change has become starkly apparent in recent months with nearly one in three Americans communities being struck by weather disasters in the past few months.

Biden said within the last two weeks he had made visits to California, New Jersey and Louisiana, where he surveyed damage from the Caldor Fire and Hurricane Ida. Coloradans, he said, are also becoming increasingly familiar with the effects of climate-change driven disasters.

“Even if it's not in your backyard, you feel the effects when you turn on the local weather and in addition to the temperature and precipitation you want to know what the local forecast is going to be…” he said. “You saw the vicious cycle this summer when heavy rains combined with the burn scar of the 2020 Grizzly Creek fire resulted in mud slides that washed out an entire section of Interstate 70.”

“The bottom line is it's everywhere,” he later said.

However, Biden also touted the benefits that an increased focus on addressing climate change would bring, including the creation of well-paid, union backed jobs.

“When I think of climate change, I think jobs,” Biden said.

He said those possibilities are already apparent in Biden's infrastructure bill, which he said would put 800,000 people to work, including a large portion in work related to addressing the climate crisis.

Biden was introduced by Julian Aguilar, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 68 union of Xcel Energy workers in Colorado.

“Being here at NREL shows the future of our industry, renewable and sustainable energy…” he said. “When you see all these new technologies you might think the future doesn't look much like the past, but one thing the past and the future will have in common is that they be built by unions.”

Xcel Energy is the first utility in the nation to set a goal of being carbon-free, Biden said.

Gov. Jared Polis also spoke at the event at NREL. He thanked Biden for visiting the facility, which he said is “powering the renewable energy revolution,” and said the state will continue to partner with the Federal government as it works to meet its own goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2030.

“President Biden's Build Back Better agenda directly helps support the work we are doing here in Colorado, one of the leading states on the clean energy revolution,” Polis said.

Biden, who completed a tour of the NREL foothills facility prior to his speech, praised NREL and said the Build Back Better plan also includes more funding for the lab and similar organizations.

“We'll be making those breakthroughs in solar wind and storage out of these facilities,” he said.

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