Who cares about climate change? We do, of course. At this point, more people than ever in the history of this country are concerned about the damage of heat, fires, superstorms, deep freezes — in short, weather on steroids. This is a direct result of our pouring too much carbon and methane into the atmosphere and disrupting a system that has been stable for over 10,000 years — a period during which, not coincidentally, human civilization has been able to thrive.
But. Even those who don’t care a bit about climate change do care about these things: the creation of new jobs; the security of our country; the health and safety of our loved ones; a fair and just world where all people have a chance to thrive and all work is respected.
Jobs. Opportunity. Security. Safety. Fairness.
A smart new jobs plan announced today by President Biden will address those values we hold dear — values that make us a better country. I call it “smart” because it is alive and responsive to the dazzling array of opportunities we have to modernize and clean up the infrastructure we rely on every day.
Climate change threatens our children’s health and future just as it threatens our entire economy. The American Jobs Plan will get us on a path to climate safety by ensuring that we get much more electricity from nonpolluting sources — sources that do not release the carbon and methane that are disrupting our climate. We will harness that clean electricity to supercharge as much of our lives as possible, from the ways we heat our homes to the ways we drive to work. New jobs will flow from the investments in building out these new infrastructure systems. There’s money set aside to cap wells abandoned by companies, left to spew methane into the air. And importantly, Biden’s plan makes sure that these opportunities are distributed fairly and equitably, leaving no one out.
We used to think about “infrastructure” as simply repairing roads and fixing bridges. We still need to do that, of course. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower created a national highway system. You can bet he had the cooperation and participation of the auto industry as well as the oil industry; they understood that their customers needed to feel secure and comfortable hitting the road. That meant connecting cities and towns from coast to coast — and building thousands of “service” stations so cars could easily fuel up.
Now: SuperChargeUS! This is hardly radical; it is progress. We need a system of electric charging stations distributed throughout the country so that drivers can feel secure that they will be able to power up their electric vehicles. Electrifying our transportation system — and cleaning up our electricity — are essential actions we must take right now — and not just to fight the climate crisis. This transformation will also slash air pollution, which causes disproportionate harm to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. The American Jobs Plan is an essential first step in this long overdue transition, which will help families literally breathe easier as we cut more and more carbon and methane pollution from our economy.