Biden pitches renewable energy tech as key to tackling climate crisis in Colorado visit

President Joe Biden on Tuesday touted technology emerging from a renewable energy lab in a Denver suburb as a central component of his plan to combat climate change while modernizing infrastructure and creating good-paying jobs.

"Yes, we face a crisis, but we face a crisis with an unprecedented opportunity to create jobs for the future," Biden said after touring the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Flatirons Campus in Arvada, the last stop on a two-day tour of western states.

Accompanied by Gov. Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Democratic members of Colorado's House delegation, Biden linked massive domestic spending proposals working their way through Congress with what he called the "code red" climate crisis confronting Americans across the country.

"The bottom line is, it's everywhere. It's everywhere. Communities that nearly one in three Americans call home have been struck by weather disasters in just last the last three months," Biden said.

"Here's the good news: something that is caused by humans can be solved by humans," he added. "We can do all of this in a way that creates good jobs and makes us global leaders in an entirely new industry."

Biden received briefings on the devastating wildfire season Monday in Boise, Idaho, and Sacramento, Calif., where the Caldor Fire has threatened the Lake Tahoe region.

At each stop — also including a campaign rally Monday night in Long Beach, Calif., in support of California Gov. Gavin Newsom on the eve of the recall election he's facing — Biden argued for climate and clean energy provisions in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion package under negotiation this week in the House.

The legislation includes billions in funding for transitioning the economy from fossil fuels toward renewable energy sources including wind and solar power, as well as tax incentives for electric vehicles and the creation of a civilian climate corps.

"Colorado has seen how destructive droughts impact our important agriculture communities, the 2020 historic wildfires resulted in devastating mudslides this summer, and ongoing wildfires around the country are impacting the air we breathe," said Polis.

"In partnership with the White House, our administration took immediate steps to help our communities impacted by these climate driven disasters, but Coloradans know that bolder actions must be taken if we’re going to end the costly cycle of destruction brought on by climate change. With support from the Biden administration, I am confident that we can address this generational challenge, save consumers money, create jobs and grow our economy.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat and sponsor of the climate corps proposal, joined Biden and others at the lab, where enormous, advanced wind turbines undergo testing.

"The need for bold, urgent climate action is exactly why we’ve been working to enact the Civilian Climate Corps to put people to work restoring our lands, tackling western wildfires and the climate crisis," Neguse said in a statement released after the presidential visit.

Biden recalled touring the renewable energy lab's headquarters in Golden in 2011, when he was vice president, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter told Colorado Politics.

Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat who met with Biden on both visits, said Biden was impressed by how far the technology had advanced in a decade.

"Because of the years of work that have taken place here, these technologies aren't science fiction," Biden said in his remarks.

"Members of both parties have recognized that clean energy is an economic imperative," Biden said, adding, "It's not about red states or blue states. It doesn't give a damn which party you are."

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee sounded a sharply partisan note, however, in a statement released before Biden landed at Denver International Airport for the roughly 3 1/2-hour visit.

“Joe Biden is in Denver to promote his reckless $3.5 trillion tax and spend spree that will increase already spiking inflation and raise Coloradans' cost of living," said RNC spokesman Alex Kuehler in an email. "Instead, Biden should focus on bringing home the Americans he abandoned in Afghanistan, lowering taxes on working families, and reining in inflation.”

Content originally published by Colorado Politics on September 14, 2021.

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