White House budget would invest billions in clean energy projects

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The Environmental Protection Agency would see its largest budget in 51 years if President Joe Biden's proposed budget is enacted.

President Joe Biden's 2023 budget request, released on Monday, calls for significant increases in funding for government agencies focused on combating climate change. The administration is requesting a $16.7 billion increase in the budget for multiple agencies when compared to the funding they received from Congress for 2021.

If enacted, Biden's budget would result in a 25% budget increase for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ($11.9 billion total), a 24% increase for the U.S. Department of the Interior ($17.5 billion total), and a 7% increase for the U.S. Department of Energy ($44.9 billion total).

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense has requested $3 billion in the budget to address the effects of climate change.

At $11.9 billion, the EPA's budget would be at the highest level in the agency's 51-year history. The Biden administration is specifically asking for $1.45 billion that would go to the EPA's Justice40 program, which seeks to invest 40% of government funds in clean energy projects in historically disadvantaged communities that are largely Black and Hispanic.

Biden created the Justice40 initiative via executive order in his first week in office in 2021.

The Biden administration has already focused the environmental agency's resources on targeted work within minority communities. In January, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan announced he would use his authority to make unannounced inspections of facilities suspected of creating pollution in those areas. The agency also said it would use EPA-owned airplanes and mobile inspection units to monitor pollution levels in those communities.

Responding to the budget request, the Natural Resources Defense Council described the plan as "a robust blueprint for international climate investments that can spur much-needed emissions reductions and help the most vulnerable adapt to the mounting impacts of the climate crisis." The group called on Congress to enact Biden's budget, noting the "limited window" left to deal with climate change.

The budget follows other Biden administration actions focused on climate.

In February, the Department of Defense announced it would invest millions in domestic production of rare-earth minerals, which are key components in electric vehicles. China currently produces most of these types of minerals.

That same month, an auction for offshore wind development rights off the coasts of New York and New Jersey broke records, bringing in $4.37 billion in revenue that will go back to taxpayers. When fully developed, the lease area is expected to power as many as 2 million homes while employing 80,000 Americans in new jobs by 2030.

Additionally, as part of his stated goal to "buy American," Biden has authorized billions of dollars in clean energy investments since the beginning of his presidency.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Biden signed into law, is funding the construction of electric vehicle charging stations along the 46,876-mile Interstate Highway System. The act is also going to be used to build charging stations in rural and underserved regions.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.