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Biden is expected to lay out climate strategies when he visits a wind turbine plant


As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden promised to get America in line with the rest of the world when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the effects of climate change. In an evenly divided Senate, those promises are being put to the test. His climate agenda fell apart last week after West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said that he's not going to support that part of the Democratic budget package. Where does the administration go now? We're going to put that question to White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy. Welcome back to the program.

GINA MCCARTHY: Thanks, Rachel. It's great to be here with you.

MARTIN: President Biden travels to Massachusetts today. He's going to visit a former coal plant now used to make parts for wind turbines. That's going to be the backdrop of a message about climate. What's he going to say?

MCCARTHY: Well, it sure is. I think it's a fitting message because the president is going to make it clear that climate change is an emergency, and he's going to make it clear that in the face of the inability of the Senate to move forward, he's going to take action, and he's going to make sure that people know that he's not interested in backing down. He's interested in moving forward. So he is going to announce that in the coming weeks, we're going to be putting new actions on the table. He's going to use all the powers available to him. And we're going to make our climate goals. You know, there is just no choice.

MARTIN: Well, let's talk about the specifics, if we could.


MARTIN: You said the president's going to say that climate is an emergency. Does that mean he's actually going to declare a national emergency to unlock federal funds to fight climate change?

MCCARTHY: Well, it does mean that he's going to be very clear that this is an emergency, and he's going to tee up a number of actions, Rachel, because when we're at Brayton Point, which is an old, dilapidated, now-defunct power plant, it's going to be transformed into a clean energy manufacturing operation that's going to support our wind turbines that are being constructed all along the Atlantic coast at this point. And we're excited about these opportunities.

MARTIN: But just to be specific, Democrats have been pushing the administration to declare a national emergency, to invoke, say, the Defense Production Act to...


MARTIN: ...Get some more money in the system to do these things. Is that going to happen?

MCCARTHY: Well, the president's been clear. He's used the Defense Production Act two times already. So he's going to make it clear today that it's an emergency. He is going to make it clear, under the sweltering heat in Massachusetts today that's impacting 100 million people across the country, and he's going to make it clear that we're going to not just do one thing or two things, but he is going to make it clear that every authority available to him is going to tackle this climate crisis.

MARTIN: What does that mean? What are the authorities available to him that he is now going to invoke?

MCCARTHY: Well, we'll have to wait until the president actually makes these announcements, Rachel. It is today. But he's going to be making clear that it's an emergency. He's going to act. And he's also going to be making clear that there's an opportunity here in the transition to clean energy that's actually...


MCCARTHY: ...Going to be creating good-paying jobs and lower costs for families. So we're excited about the change.

MARTIN: We look forward to those details. Let me ask you this.


MARTIN: The White House tried to get Joe Manchin on board with the climate bill by opening the door to more offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters, specifically off the Gulf of Mexico, the coast of Alaska. Is that still on the table?

MCCARTHY: Well, actually, Senator Manchin was negotiating with Congress on those issues. The White House was not directly negotiating with him.

MARTIN: So does that mean the administration would go so far as to ban new oil drilling on federal lands and waters?

MCCARTHY: Rachel, I think everything's on the table in terms of how we make this transition to clean energy. And the president will make those issues and those decisions clear over time.

MARTIN: The administration, as you know, has a tough time when it comes to trying to pursue other countries to uphold their climate agreements. I mean, does this hurt America's credibility abroad?

MCCARTHY: I think the president is going to make very clear that he has broad executive authorities that he intends to use. We've already taken strong action here in the U.S. to start making a concerted effort to shift to clean energy, and it's being successful in offshore wind, in transportation and electric vehicles. We're moving forward with this transition. We've set some tough goals. We intend to - this to be another step forward, to show the world that we can do this. And it's not a sacrifice. It's moving to great jobs, lower costs for our families in terms of energy costs. And it will help us be more secure and more economically viable.

MARTIN: It's still a big loss for the administration. I mean, the legislation before Congress had $50 billion in there, much of it for American-made green tech. Without that kind of investment, where do those technologies go? Where do those jobs go?

MCCARTHY: Well, the president was very clear that he wanted the investment. We received investment in the bipartisan infrastructure law, which the president shepherded and got over the finish line. We were hoping to have that investment. But, Rachel, there's a lot of paths to the future that we need to bring on the table, and the president's going to do that. So it's too soon to say that we can't meet our goals. We're going to meet them.

MARTIN: Gina McCarthy, the White House national climate adviser. Thanks for your time.

MCCARTHY: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.