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Biden announces new climate change actions, stops short of declaring emergency

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - A woman use portable fan as heatwave hits London, United Kingdom on July 18, 2022. (Raşid Necati Aslım - Anadolu Agency)
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Jul 21, 2022 - 06:26 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday new executive actions to combat climate change but stopped short of declaring a climate emergency.

Speaking as Europe is in the thick of an historic heatwave, Biden said climate change is “literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger.”

“The health of our citizens and our communities is literally at stake,” he said in remarks delivered from the US state of Massachusetts. “Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world.”

Still, the president stopped short of declaring a climate emergency but hinted that such action could be in the works.

“In the coming weeks I’m going to use the power I have as president to turn these words into formal official government actions through the appropriate proclamations, executive orders, and regulatory powers that a president possesses,” he said. “When it comes to fighting climate change I will not take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The set of executive actions unveiled by Biden include $2.3 billion to allow communities to improve their infrastructure to better prepare for extreme weather events such as flooding, hurricanes and excessive heat.

The president also directed the Interior Department to open new parts of the Gulf of Mexico to new offshore wind farm development. That could result in having enough new energy to power 3 million homes, according to the White House.

The department is also being directed to advance wind development in the mid- and southern Atlantic coast and Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The announcement comes after US Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat who has repeatedly broken with the president, announced last week that he would not support Biden’s climate agenda.

The senator, whose home state of West Virginia has historically relied heavily on the coal industry, wields a critical vote in the chamber, which is evenly split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

Manchin’s announcement was the latest major setback for the Biden administration after the Supreme Court rule in June to significantly curtail the federal government’s powers to shift energy production away from coal-fired plants.

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