WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden plans to announce new federal measures aimed at the climate crisis on Wednesday during a trip to Massachusetts, but will stop short of declaring a climate emergency, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups have been calling for the White House to take aggressive measures on climate change after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said last week he was not ready to support key climate provisions in Congress.
Biden has been under pressure to declare an emergency, which would enable the use of the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of a wide range of renewable energy products and systems, but the president is unlikely to take that step at this time.
The president will use his trip to underscore the historic clean energy investments his administration has made and “announce additional actions he will take to tackle the climate crisis and secure a clean energy future,” Jean-Pierre said.
The comments confirmed a Reuters report that the visit included new announcements on climate.
A White House official said earlier on Tuesday that Biden has made it clear that if the Senate did not act, he will. “We are considering all options and no decision has been made,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Biden campaigned on tough action on climate change in his presidential campaign and pledged in international climate negotiations to cut climate pollution by 50% by 2030 and reach 100% clean electricity by 2035.
But his climate agenda has been derailed by several major setbacks, including clinching enough congressional support to pass crucial climate and clean energy measures in a federal budget bill, record-setting gasoline prices and global energy market disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Supreme Court, in a decision issued earlier this month, also signaled that federal agencies cannot undertake major policy action on climate and other areas without express consent from Congress.
Despite those constraints, environmental policy group Evergreen Action said the Environmental Protection Agency can still use its authority to tighten curbs on carbon dioxide and other major pollutants at power plants and industrial facilities and the Interior Department can phase out fossil fuel leases and block major projects.
Democrats are discussing the path forward for major climate action on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, said US Senator Tom Carper, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Carper dodged a question about Biden declaring a climate emergency but said he thinks there are other issues the Senate could move forward on, including methane emission reduction and tax provisions for nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration.
During his trip to Somerset, Massachusetts, Biden will visit a former coal plant, which has been converted into a manufacturing facility for undersea cables used for offshore wind production.