Biden to tout funding for green jobs during stop in Pueblo

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at Denver International Airport aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. He greeted Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Mike Johnston as he stepped off the aircraft, before being whisked away in a motorcade. Biden visits Pueblo on Wednesday.

Updated at 5:17 a.m.

President Joe Biden visits Pueblo today to tout the investments his administration has made in clean energy and manufacturing and to discuss how it’s “delivering” for the people there.

Biden will tour CS Wind, the largest wind turbine tower manufacturing plant in the world. The company says it has invested more than $200 million to expand its facility, and will add as many as 850 jobs in the next few years, because of the Inflation Reduction Act, Biden’s signature climate, tax, and health care law.

“As (the president) likes to say, when he thinks about clean energy and climate, he thinks jobs,” said Olivia Dalton, White House Deputy Press Secretary. “These kinds of energy technologies of the future can be produced right here in America, with good-paying, highly skilled American workers. And all that adds up to a whole lot of economic progress for our country.”

The visit will also give the president the opportunity to contrast the real-world impact the law is making with the positions taken by the congresswoman for Pueblo, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert. She has called for the IRA to be repealed and supported House Republicans’ unsuccessful efforts to undo or rescind parts of the bill.

It was something he talked about a campaign reception in Denver on Tuesday night, dinging Boebert for calling the legislation "garbage" and a "massive failure" when it is creating hundreds of jobs in the district.

"I find it pretty unbelievable," Biden told the crowd.

On the eve of Biden’s visit, Boebert, who has not visited the CS Wind plant, criticized the president.

“Families in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District are being crushed by so-called 'Bidenomics.'” said Boebert in a statement. “On Joe Biden's watch, credit card debt, inflation, groceries, and gas prices have all reached record highs. These high prices are squeezing working-class Coloradans and rural America. Rather than cutting wasteful federal spending and unleashing American energy production, Joe Biden continues to pander to radical extremists, lock up more land, and spend his time focused on campaign stunts and vacations rather than doing the job he was elected to do.”

While Biden narrowly defeated former President Trump in Pueblo County in 2020, overall the 3rd congressional district leans Republican. The seat is a top pickup target for Democrats after Boebert squeaked out the narrowest congressional victory in the country last year.

Boebert said that instead of touting the IRA, Biden should instead work with her on her Pueblo Jobs Act, a bill that would complete the decommissioning of the Pueblo Chemical Depot and transfer the remaining land to a local redevelopment authority, in this case, PuebloPlex, for economic redevelopment. Democratic Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet have introduced companion legislation, called the Pueblo Act, in the Senate.

Dalton pushed back on Boebert’s criticism, saying Biden is doing his job. “He spent the last couple of years crisscrossing America to blue districts and red districts alike talking about how these clean energy investments are attracting private sector investments in America, once again, and delivering good paying jobs to people in every community from coast to coast.”

She added that the first two years of the administration were spent passing “significant, historic investments in America,” including the IRA, the bipartisan infrastructure law, and the CHIPS and Science Act during the last Congress.

According to the White House, altogether, the laws have led private companies to invest $7 billion in Colorado, in industries from clean energy to semiconductors. It’s also led to $6 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy investment in the state. The White House also highlighted other projects that benefit the 3rd congressional district, from $160 million for the Arkansas Valley Conduit, which will bring clean water to people in southeastern Colorado, to a proposed $400 million investment in a solar field in La Plata County.

None of Colorado’s House Republicans, including Boebert, voted for any of those laws.

As for prices and inflation, “The congresswoman must not be reading the news because core inflation is down 2 percent,” Dalton said. “The United States currently has lower inflation than any advanced economy in the world. We are making progress bringing down costs, at the same time as we are delivering on the president’s promise to bring back good paying jobs and industry to American shores.”

Many voters in both parties, however, appear to disagree with the administration’s rosy assessment, viewing the economy as fair at best.

The trip was originally expected to take place in October but was delayed due to Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel and the growing humanitarian crisis.

Gov. Jared Polis will be at the plant with the president. In a message welcoming the trip, Polis said, “Colorado is leading the nation in transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy, and our wind manufacturing capabilities are helping to power our clean energy economy, create jobs, and save people money on electricity.”

On Tuesday, Biden was in Atlanta, Ga., along with First Lady Jill Biden, to pay tribute to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.  He then flew to Denver, where he participated in the campaign reception, which included Polis and Sen. John Hickenlooper, before heading to Pueblo Wednesday morning.