BY ZACK BUDRYK
President Biden touted the historic climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act, the environmental and infrastructure spending he signed into law last year, in his second State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is … the most significant investment ever to tackle the climate crisis, lowering utility bills, creating American jobs, and leading the world to a clean energy future,” Biden said in his prepared remarks.
The president presented the law as an investment in resilience to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.
“I’ve visited the devastating aftermaths of record floods and droughts, storms and wildfires,” Biden said. “In addition to emergency recovery from Puerto Rico to Florida to Idaho, we are rebuilding for the long term: new electric grids able to weather the next major storm, roads and water systems to withstand the next big flood, clean energy to cut pollution and create jobs in communities too often left behind.”
“We’re still going to need oil and gas for a while, but there’s more to do,” Biden said, with the reference to fossil fuels drawing some applause.
Biden presented action on the climate crisis as a moral obligation on the part of older generations and the wealthy, saying “we pay for these investments in our future by finally making the wealthiest and the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share.”
The Inflation Reduction Act marked the most significant climate bill in U.S. history, putting about $369 billion toward climate action. The Biden administration has set a target of reducing carbon emissions by half from 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
Biden also hailed steps taken outside of the IRA, including plans to replace all lead pipes in the U.S., which were included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“We’re replacing poisonous lead pipes that go into 10 million homes and 400,000 schools and childcare centers, so every child in America can drink clean water,” he said, referencing cases of delayed development and brain damage detected in cases like the water supply contamination in Flint, Mich.