Back from UN climate conference, Neguse and Hickenlooper talk up environmental and economic benefits of Biden agenda

· Nov. 12, 2021, 4:34 pm
Colorado U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper speaks to reporters on Friday, November 12, 2021, outside the Edgewater Public Library’s electric vehicle charging station, near Denver. The senator highlighted economic benefits of an infrastructure bill recently passed by Congress that supporters say will provide a boost in jobs while also combating climate change.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse on Friday stressed the need to pass the climate policies in the proposed $1.75-trillion budget bill after returning from the U.N. climate summit in Scotland.

Neguse, who sits on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the House Natural Resources Committee, was picked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to attend the conference as part of the Congressional delegation. Nearly 200 countries were still negotiating a global climate accord after the official end of the conference, according to national news reports.

“There is no question the international community recognizes that the climate emergency is here,” Neguse said in a virtual press conference with other members of the House climate committee Friday.

The committee members also championed the Build Back Better Act, the budget bill proposed by President Joe Biden that would fund a suite of programs promoting clean energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting climate adaptation. Neguse said the bill would help the country “meet the moment” and reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

“The time to do something is right now, and the solution is a clear one: it is passing the Build Back Better Act,” he said.

With the infrastructure bill about to be signed, and their social spending bill still in process, Democratic members of Congress have been working to sell the president’s agenda to their voters. 

Sen. John Hickenlooper, who also attended the COP26 climate conference, held a separate press conference Friday to promise movement on Build Back Better, while praising the passage of the infrastructure package.

“Everywhere throughout this bill, it’s jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Hickenlooper, who spoke next to an EV charging station in Jefferson County, with representatives from environmental groups and construction’ unions lined up behind him.

Colorado U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper speaks to reporters on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, outside the Edgewater Public Library’s electric vehicle charging station, near Denver.

“We’re going to be looking to the pipefitters to help get rid of lead in our drinking water pipes. The carpenters are going to help us fix our roads and our bridges,” he said. “We’re going to need union jobs to build the clean energy transmission lines and rebuild our grid in a smart way.”

The bill includes Hickenlooper’s RECHARGE Act, which asks states to look at lowering the utility rates for EV charging stations.

“I think we’re going to look back 50 years from now and say, ‘This is the beginning, really the beginning, of the great transition’ (to electric vehicles),” Hickenlooper said.

The act, which also includes funding to create the 21st-century Climate Conservation Corps proposed by Neguse, faces unflinching opposition from Republicans. The House is expected to vote on the budget bill next week.

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