PALO ALTO, Calif. — Touring a coastal wetland here Monday, President Biden sought to tout his environmental record and offer assurances that bills he signed during the first two years of his presidency would help communities protect themselves from natural disasters for decades to come.

“The impacts we’re seeing from climate change are only going to get more frequent, more ferocious and more costly,” Biden said Monday, during a visit to the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center and Preserve, adding that his efforts to boost resilience would turn “peril into progress.”

During brief remarks, Biden announced more than $600 million for climate adaptation projects as part of his visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, a three-day trip that also was slated to include several political fundraisers.

The official trip served the dual purpose of allowing Biden to showcase his legislative record on the environment while also bolstering his political position with a key constituency ahead of his reelection bid. In recent weeks, Biden has made similar moves to highlight his record on a range of issues including gun control, racial equity and LGBTQ+ rights — presidential actions his aides say help create a sharp split screen with the infighting and indictments dominating the Republican presidential primary.

While Biden did not mention any of his GOP rivals by name, he accused “MAGA Republicans” of trying to undo the progress Democrats have made on the environment. He boasted that while Republicans sought to reverse many of his climate policies during the negotiations over the debt ceiling, he resisted their efforts.

Biden also met with California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who has needled Republican leaders in recent weeks and positioned himself as a leading Democratic voice on national issues. Republicans have blasted California for embracing many of the liberal policies backed by Biden, saying residents are fleeing the state.

“There’s simply no president in modern American history that’s done more to deliver on the promise of addressing head-on the issue of climate change,” Newsom said after meeting with Biden.

As part of Biden’s visit, California was set to receive more than $67.4 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to bolster its power grid in the coming days, the White House announced Sunday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also planned to launch the $575 million Climate Resilience Regional Challenge this week to help coastal communities build resilience to extreme weather.

The program, funded by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, is launching at a particularly pertinent time. More than 50 million Americans were under severe storm threat Monday in much of the Southeast, which has already experienced deadly tornadoes, wind gusts and excessive rain.

Even as Biden has made slowing climate change and reducing the nation’s emissions a pillar of his presidency, the administration also has steered significant funding toward making communities better equipped to deal with rising seas, more intense storms, worsening wildfires and other consequences of a warming world.

The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law set aside nearly $7 billion to support the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s resilience and mitigation programs. To date, the agency has announced more than $370 million in awards from those programs.

“From hurricanes in the east, to wildfires in the west, to tornadoes tearing through America’s heartland, every community faces some level of disaster risk. These frequent and intense events fueled by climate change demonstrate that mitigation funding continues to serve as one of our most powerful tools in reducing the impacts we’re seeing,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a statement last month.

Such impacts will only grow as the planet gets hotter, scientists say.

A robust and growing body of research points to an unsettling reality — that the fingerprint of climate change is clear in the rising number of extreme weather disasters around the globe, which each year claim lives and upend livelihoods around the world.

Scientists have been unequivocal that sea levels are rising at accelerated rates, torrential rainstorms are overwhelming infrastructure, hurricanes are becoming more intense, wildfires more ferocious and record-setting heat waves more common. Without a rapid and drastic cut in the burning of fossil fuels, which is the primary driver of a warmer atmosphere, such catastrophes are likely to grow only worse in time.

A sprawling federal report released late last year found that climate change is unleashing “far-reaching and worsening” calamities in every region of the nation, and the economic and human toll will only increase unless humans move faster to slow the planet’s warming.

“The things Americans value most are at risk,” the National Climate Assessment authors, who represent a broad range of federal agencies, wrote in the draft report.

The White House said the timing of the president’s visit highlighted the growing risk.

“This critical work could not come at a more urgent time for the over 100 million Americans personally affected by extreme weather events, including those impacted by the hazardous wildfire smoke, record-shattering heat waves, and devastating storms just this month alone,” said a White House official in a statement, speaking on the condition of anonymity to comment ahead of the president’s trip.

Biden is focusing on his environmental record as he gears up for a reelection bid in which he is hoping to shore up the broad coalition that carried him to victory in 2020, which includes younger voters and Democrats for whom climate change is a top concern. Last week, Biden received an unprecedented joint endorsement from four of the nation’s leading environmental groups — the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, NRDC Action Fund, Sierra Club and NextGen PAC. The groups noted that with legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, Biden has delivered on key promises to combat climate change and undo some of the actions taken by former president Donald Trump.

Still, some environmental activists have withheld their support, citing the administration’s recent approvals of fossil fuel infrastructure, such as the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Willow drilling project.

Biden’s visit to California coincides with several fundraisers the president has planned in the San Francisco Bay Area, hosted by wealthy private equity, technology and climate entrepreneurs and investors.

On Monday, Biden attended a fundraiser at the Los Gatos, Calif., home of Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott and his wife, Shannon Hunt-Scott. During brief remarks that did not mention any Republican rivals by name, Biden said he was committed to fighting for policy wins on guns, abortion and the economy in a second term.

“I am confident about this election because of the people I’m standing for,” Biden said during the fundraiser, which was co-hosted by Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and board member at Microsoft. “I’m confident because I think there is a sense of wanting to finish the job.”

Later Monday, the president traveled to Atherton, Calif., to attend a fundraiser at the home of venture capitalist Steve Westly, a former state Controller and a major investor in Tesla.

On Tuesday, Biden planned to attend another fundraiser in Marin County, hosted by a group of executives.

The moves come amid a burst of fundraising events by Biden and his top allies ahead of the end of the second quarter deadline for campaign finance reporting next week. After some insiders said Biden’s early fundraising efforts had gotten off to a slow start, the campaign is hoping to bolster its coffers and report strong second quarter figures in the coming weeks.

Republican presidential candidates are also rushing to boost their fundraising totals as the end of the quarter nears. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was also scheduled to be in California on Monday, including for a fundraiser in Woodside, just miles from where Biden is set to be raising cash.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

Comments are closed.