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Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden is asking Congress to approve hundreds of billions of dollars to remake transit, overhaul power grids and expand clean energy in a sweeping plan the White House says will fight climate change while outcompeting China.

Why it matters: The plan, if enacted, would be the most far-reaching federal investment to date in programs that would help curb greenhouse gas emissions. But it faces serious challenges in the closely divided Congress.

  • It signals Biden's high priority on fighting global warming while addressing racial and economic inequality.

How it works: Highlights of the transit, energy and climate parts of the broader "American Jobs" proposal include, per a 25-page White House summary:

  • $621 billion over eight years for transportation-related programs. The goal is to remake roads and bridges in ways the White House says would save fuel and curb emissions. This includes steering $85 billion to bolster mass transit and $174 billion to "win" the electric vehicle market.
  • Those provisions aim to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030, expand consumer tax incentives to purchase EVs, create a rebate program, and fund electrification of school bus and federal fleets.
  • $100 billion worth of investments over eight years for the electricity sector and other energy programs.
  • Those efforts include new tax credits to build high-voltage transmission lines; extended tax credits that can be quickly monetized for renewable power and carbon capture projects; clean energy block grants; and billions of dollars for plugging abandoned oil-and-gas wells and cleaning abandoned mines.
  • Elsewhere, it seeks to spend $180 billion to expand climate-related research and demonstration projects; launch a suite of efforts to expand manufacturing of climate-friendly tech; and invest in other research into advanced technologies.
  • It also seeks to invest another $213 billion to "produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live."

Reality check: The price tag and some of the policy proposals will likely both face resistance in Congress and among other stakeholders.

  • Republicans are likely to be wary of so much new spending as well as the changes to the tax code the administration is proposing to pay for it, while some climate activists are pressing for an even larger package.
  • And some provisions could be difficult to move through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process.
  • That includes a proposed "Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard" to help with Biden's goal of achieving 100% zero-carbon power by 2035, which could be interpreted as a policy mandate rather than a change that affects revenues or spending.

Quick take: The massive plan appears designed to breathe life into priorities Biden campaigned on while also, in some cases, appealing to GOP lawmakers. A few measures that caught our eye ...

  • The plan targets 40% of the climate and "clean infrastructure" investments to disadvantaged communities at a time when environmental justice — that is, tackling the disproportionate burden pollution causes for communities of color and low-income people — is a White House priority.
  • It signals support for a wide range of energy technologies, including sources that GOP lawmakers often emphasize, like carbon capture and advanced nuclear power efforts.
  • Biden is also casting the proposal as a major jobs program, and the White House summary mentions union labor — a key Democratic constituency — repeatedly.
  • The White House pitch for advancing U.S. clean tech sector is crafted as a way to help compete against China.
  • "The President's plan will unify and mobilize the country to meet the great challenges of our time: the climate crisis and the ambitions of an autocratic China," the White House summary notes.

Go deeper

Biden's big, global climate power play

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The next month is the most important period for U.S. climate action in more than a decade, and possibly ever, longtime advocates and observers tell Axios.

Why it matters: With scientists issuing more urgent warnings that time is running out to curtail the consequences of global warming, the policy choices proposed through the end of April could reverberate for decades to come.

Mar 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's true tax priorities

(Photo: Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

President Biden is preparing to go to the mat for four tax increases worth about $1.8 trillion to help pay for his infrastructure and social safety net plans, advisers tell Axios.

Driving the news: Biden will outline an array of tax proposals beginning on Wednesday — an opening bid ahead of months-long negotiations mostly within the Democratic Party — but these are his priorities.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Mar 30, 2021 - Energy & Environment

BlackRock names ex-Obama climate aide Paul Bodnar as sustainable investing head

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

BlackRock has named Paul Bodnar, a climate finance and diplomacy veteran who held senior roles in the Obama administration, as its global head of sustainable investing.

Why it matters: BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager. The hiring comes as BlackRock and other finance and banking giants are stepping up their sustainability efforts — and face pressure from climate activists to move faster.