Biden tackles America’s crying environmental problems. Can he succeed?
President Biden’s speech to the House and Senate on Wednesday night generally garnered praise from the expert class.
But instead of the few traditional disposable lines – even Asset spoke of joining a global effort to plant “trillions of trees” – Biden laid out an ambitious agenda for the climate, clean energy, toxic cleanups, and more.
But will any of them survive the political deadlock?
It is quite possible that the GOP will take over both the House and the Senate in 22nd, giving the Biden program only two years, not four, to win.
And even that assumes the fleeting loyalty of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and others.
Speech by President Biden to Congress
But give Biden credit for bringing climate change back to the national stage in a way that finally has a chance to bridge the ideological chasm.
In an hour-long speech, he proposed a complete overhaul of our view of climate: not as an impending disaster, but as an impending opportunity, tied in with the restart of our infrastructure. Better-constructed buildings, cars, power grids and more that can create millions of new jobs and convert doomed sectors, including fossil fuels, into cleaner and better roads.
It has also tackled admirably one of the glaring problems of environmental racism in the United States: the thousands of towns and cities with dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water.
Related: A Tale of Two Joes
The toxic risks of lead in drinking water are most keenly felt by children, and they are more common in poor and minority neighborhoods.
The solution is to replace millions of service lines that carry water from the network to single-family homes. In other words, it would take a massive public works project to do what Biden wants: fix all of them.
Often, such promises are fleeting and are rarely kept.
Biden identified lead pipes as “a clear and present danger to the health of our children.” I count this as a promise to fix the problem. The environmental justice movement has been around since Ronald Reagan was president. The Biden administration cannot afford to be the seventh president to drop them.
So we can look at Biden’s speech in either of two ways: he’s the first president to put environmental goals into his big picture; or, he’s about to not just drop the Big Green ball on one problem, but just about all of them.
One more thing
After writing a few weeks ago about reporters whose pioneering work revealed great environmental stories, I heard from seasoned reporter Rae Tyson. He told some of the biggest stories about Love Canal’s toxic waste disaster for the Niagara Gazette. Tyson wanted to make sure two of his Niagara Falls predecessors got credit for shattering early stories, David Pollak and David Russell.
Rae Tyson became the first environmental reporter to United States today. When I build the Environmental Journalist Hall of Fame someday, it will receive its own plaque.
Its views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or the publisher Environmental Health Sciences.
Banner photo: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at Arthur James Cancer Hospital and the Richard Solove Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo credit: White House / Adam Schultz)