Trying to salvage his climate agenda, Biden weighs a national emergency

President Joe Biden will travel Wednesday to a shuttered coal-fired power plant that is now part of an offshore wind project in Massachusetts, where he is expected to deliver remarks on clean energy as his administration scrambles to salvage its climate agenda.

Biden and his advisers have been debating whether he should declare a national climate emergency, an extraordinary step that would give Biden the ability to halt new oil drilling on federal lands and waters and spend federal funds on wind, solar and other clean energy projects. He is not expected to take that step Wednesday but may at another point, said two administration officials familiar with his plans.

The president is under great pressure from other Democrats and climate activists to take decisive action. His administration has spent the past year and a half trying to pass robust climate change legislation, only to see it collapse last week because it failed to win support from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the swing Democratic vote in the evenly divided Senate.

That setback followed a Supreme Court decision in June that sharply limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

On Wednesday, he will tour the former Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, which, by the time it closed in 2017, was the last coal plant in the state, administration officials said. The plant is being transformed into an offshore wind facility that will make undersea transmission cables. Those lines will bring power generated by wind turbines, under construction now in the Atlantic, to the New England electrical grid.

Democratic lawmakers have been urging Biden to move quickly to try to cut pollution generated by the United States, which historically has added more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than any other country.

Biden has been smarting from accusations from some Democrats that his response to the Supreme Court’s recent abortion ruling was slow and tepid, and has been eager to make an aggressive announcement, said the two officials, who asked to remain anonymous.

Even before Manchin pulled the plug on the climate legislation, the White House had been working on executive action to fight global warming, which experts say could still take slices out of the nation’s carbon footprint, although not by enough to meet the targets Biden has pledged to the rest of the world.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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