President Joe Biden will be in Massachusetts on Wednesday to promote his efforts to address climate change but will stop short of issuing an emergency declaration that would unlock federal resources to deal with the matter.
Biden was reportedly considering issuing the emergency declaration after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) told party leaders last week that he would not support any economic package that includes funding to address climate change. With the Senate split 50-50, Manchin’s opposition to the legislation is fatal.
The potential legislation was part of Biden’s broader economic plan and was expected to include significant spending on renewable energy. Reportedly, the package would have included more than $500 billion in taxpayer funding for new programs to cut emissions and support new technologies, including electric vehicles.
Manchin, who represents the coal-heavy state of West Virginia, voiced his reason for opposing more government spending.
“No matter what spending aspirations some in Congress may have, it is clear to anyone who visits a grocery store or a gas station that we cannot add any more fuel to this inflation fire,” Manchin stated in a press release.
Following the stalling of the legislation, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) told reporters Monday that the Biden administration should use “the full powers of the executive branch” on climate.
But on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre stated that President Biden was unlikely to make an emergency declaration.
“He’s going to take, as I said, additional climate actions in that vein tomorrow, and he’s going to continue, he’s not going to just stop with the actions of tomorrow, but I would not plan [on an] announcement this week on [a] national climate emergency,” Jean-Pierre told reporters during a press briefing.
“Everything’s on the table, it’s just not going to be this week on that decision,” she added.
A climate emergency declaration would allow Biden to redirect spending to boost renewable energy such as wind and solar power and push the nation away from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.
The Biden administration could also use the declaration as a legal basis to block oil and gas drilling or other projects, though this would likely be met with challenges in court.
The focus on actions related to the climate comes as a heat wave is battering large regions of Europe, with Britain reaching the highest temperature ever recorded in the country. The scorching, dry weather across the continent has triggered wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths.
Though Democrats are pushing Biden to take executive action, some legal scholars question whether an emergency declaration relating to the climate is feasible.
“Emergency powers are designed for events such as terrorist attacks, epidemics, and natural disasters,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
Such powers “aren’t intended to address persistent problems, no matter how dire. And they aren’t meant to be an end-run around Congress,” Goitein wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post last year.