President Joe Biden spent much of his Monday on his first West Coast trip as president speaking with fire officials in Idaho and California and pushing his $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan. The video above includes clips from both stops.
He started his trip in Boise at the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates the government’s wildfire response. There, he noted wildfires start earlier every year and that this year they have scorched 5.4 million acres.
“The reality is we have a global warming problem, a serious global warming problem, and it’s consequential, and what’s going to happen is, things are not going to go back,” President Biden said.
In California, Biden took an aerial tour of land charred by the Caldor Fire after getting a briefing from officials at the state emergency services office.
“The extreme weather cost America last year, 99 billion dollars,” Biden said. “And this year, unfortunately, we’re going to break that record. It’s a devastating loss to our economy and for so many communities.”
During the trip, Biden tried to frame his infrastructure plan as something that could help with the increasing frequency of wildfires, drought, floods and other extreme weather events.
“It literally provides for billions of dollars for wildfire, for wildfire preparedness, resilience and response force management and public water sources,” Biden said in Idaho. “We have a chance to build back in a way that not only gets us back to where we were yesterday, but gets us to a place where we are going to be able to sustain that,” he said in California.
The president argued for spending now to make the future effects of climate change less costly. We heard similar arguments during Biden’s recent stops in Louisiana, New York and New Jersey. The three states suffered millions of dollars in flood and other damage after Hurricane Ida. Louisiana could suffer more damage from Nicholas, which had the chance to become a hurricane as of early Monday evening.
Biden was expected to conclude his two-day western trip in Denver Tuesday. It comes at a critical juncture for his infrastructure plan. Lawmakers are working to assemble details of the plan as well as how to pay for it. On Monday, House Democrats unveiled a plan to increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations in order to raise the $3.5 trillion.
President Joe Biden: “You have the full support of my government, my administration, I should say. And all those who have major roles in the government from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior just across the board.”
“5.4 million acres burned (land), that’s larger than the entire state of New Jersey. When I say that back east, we’re used to floods and storms, when I say that back east, it’s just unfathomable.”
“Both my Republican colleagues in the state and Democratic colleagues from Oregon, and we’re going to try to be here. All will support this bill that I put together an infrastructure. So, we can build back better than it was before. And it it literally provides for billions of dollars for wildfire, for wildfire preparedness, resilience and response force management and public water sources.”
“Well, you know, the reality is we have a global warming problem. It’s serious global warming and it’s consequential. And what’s going to happen is things are going to go back to where they were. It’s not like you can go back to what it was before. It’s not going to get any better than it is today. It can only get worse, not better. It’s not like we’re going to not have more problems. We can do this, in my view.”
“So, I guess, to state the obvious, you all are incredible what you’re doing, but also think about the jobs you’re losing due to the impact supply chains and the industries that are being held up. I’m looking forward to this briefing. My message to you is when we build back, we have to build back better. It’s not a Democrat thing, it’s not a Republican thing. It’s a weather thing. It’s a reality. It’s serious. We can do this. We can do this. In the process of build back, we can create jobs.”
“We’ve got to change. We got to get this bill back, we got to build back better than before. I know everyone around the world was using that that that expression now. But it’s literally. We’re the only country in the world that has gone through crises throughout its career, throughout our history. And we’ve come out stronger than we went in. We’ve got to do that now. We have a chance to build back in a way that not only gets us back to where we were yesterday, but gets us to a place where we are going to be able to sustain that.”
“It’s real and what I couldn’t get done in terms of climate there, I was able to put in the thing called Recovery Act to build back better portion of it. Weather that passes are not exactly how much I don’t know, but we’re going to get it passed, and it has money in there for resilience.”
“But we all know if we had an extensive battery technology and storage, it would be a different world. We all know that if we invest in being able to run power lines underground, it cost a hell of a lot more money. But if we made the investment. For every dollar we invest now, we save six dollars. That’s not hyperbole. That is not hyperbole. We spent over 97 billion dollars because of climate change.”
We have a chance because of the work you’re doing to make some significant change and literally I know sounds like hyperbole, to save a generation. Not a joke, not a joke. If we don’t stay below 1.5 degrees centigrade of Earth warming, we’re in deep trouble.”
“The extreme weather cost America last year, 99 billion dollars. Billion. Let me say it again. Extreme weather in the United States costs the United States of America a total of 99 billion dollars. And this year, unfortunately, we’re going to break that record. It’s a devastating loss to our economy and for so many communities.”