What Biden’s environmental plans mean for electric vehicles


Enjoy Woodworking?
Download & Access World's Largest Collection of 16,000 Wood Plans!


This article was originally published by Steve Schaefer on Clean Fleet Report, a publication that gives its readers the information they need to move to cars and trucks with best fuel economy, including electric cars, fuel cells, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and advanced diesel and gasoline engines.

The Green New Deal has received a lot of attention since it was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in early 2019. But how many people have actually read it and know what’s in it?

The bill isn’t long, as bills go, but it’s dense. I’ve tried to pull out the main points below. You can read the complete text of the bill here.

President-elect Joe Biden has a lengthy description of his ambitious climate plan on his website. It’s based on the Green New Deal and contains many specific proposals.  I walk you through it below.

In the interests of space and clarity, I am using an outline format with bullet points in some parts of this post.

The Green New Deal

The Green New Deal, H.RES.109, is not a law—It’s a framework for dealing with the climate crisis while also boosting job creation and addressing systemic racism and discrimination. It was named in the spirit of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, which helped pull America out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. It also is meant to reflect the efforts and sacrifices that the United States made during World War II.

On February 7, 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the bill’s sponsor, introduced the Green New Deal in the U.S. House of Representatives of the 116th Congress, 1st Session, along with 68 other cosigners.

To back up its climate change proposals, the bill references the October 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment Report.

The reasons given for presenting the bill were:

  • Human activity is the dominant cause of climate change.
  • Climate change leads to many catastrophic results, including sea level rise, wildfires, storms, droughts.
  • Global warming more than two degrees Celsius will create even greater issues, such as mass migrations, lost economic output, destruction of coral reefs and damage to infrastructure.

The stated climate goal is to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees C. This means reducing greenhouse gases by 40 to 60 percent by 2030 with the longer-term goal of net zero global emissions by 2050. These numbers reflect the latest scientific consensus and commitments now being made by large corporations and other nations, as built into the Paris Climate Accord of 2015. The United States is officially out of the Paris Agreement as of November 4, 2020, but will presumably re-enter it next year under a Biden presidency.

The actions described in the Green New Deal would commit the United States, a major emitter, to  taking a leading role in fighting climate change. It lays out a 10-year plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a “fair and just” transition, creating millions of good new jobs building a sustainable infrastructure and industries, as well as securing clean air and water, climate resiliency, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment.

The Green New Deal also promotes justice and equity for people of color, indigenous communities, migrant communities, deindustrialize communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income communities, women, the elderly, the unhoused, disabled and youth.

Climate action goals

The bill contains a long menu of goals and tasks, but the main ones for climate action include:

  • Building climate change resiliency against disasters
  • Repairing U.S infrastructure
  • Moving to 100 percent clean, renewable, zero-emission power, including smart power grids
  • Upgrading existing buildings
  • Growing clean manufacturing
  • Working with farmers and ranchers to remove pollution and greenhouse gases
  • Overhauling transportation systems to remove pollution and greenhouse gases
  • Mitigating and managing the effects of climate change
  • Removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and restoring natural ecosystems
  • Cleaning up hazardous waste
  • Sharing technology, products, and services with other countries
  • Protecting public lands, water and oceans

Economic and social goals

The economic and social goals include:

  • Having the federal government account for the complete environmental and social costs and impacts of emissions in existing laws
  • Creating new policies and programs
  • Protecting frontline and vulnerable communities
  • Providing resources, training and education to all people
  • Making public investments in research and development of clean technology
  • Investing in economic development, including high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages and have family medical leave, vacations, retirement and security
  • Strengthening and protecting the rights of workers to organize, unionize and bargain collectively
  • Enacting and enforcing trade rules, procurement standards and border adjustments
  • Obtaining informed consent of indigenous peoples for decisions that affect them and their territories
  • Ensuring a business environment without unfair competition
  • Providing to all people of the United States:
    • Affordable, safe and adequate housing
    • Economic security
    • Clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food and access to nature

The Green New Deal is a proposal, not a law, and is wide-ranging in its scope. I have shown only the outline of it above. If its goal is to move the conversation forward, it has already been successful. However, we need to work on enacting the parts of it that we can over the next decade to keep the global average temperature down.

Joe Biden’s plan

As president, Joe Biden will have a huge task before him. His climate plan borrows the spirit and many of the specific proposals from the Green New Deal. Its goal is a national effort “to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future.”

The $2 trillion plan creates millions of construction, skilled trade and engineering jobs to build this new infrastructure while providing pathways for workers of all ages and people from all backgrounds.

The investments will be in Infrastructure, the auto industry, transit, the power sector, buildings, housing, innovation, agriculture and conservation and environmental justice. The plan includes good union jobs and rights to collectively bargain and organize that we saw in the Green New Deal. It asks employers who benefit from this program to pay at least $15 per hour and provide paid leave and overtime.

The plan promotes diversity in hiring and keeps jobs local. There will be job training and pre-apprenticeship programs, too. It also commits the country to helping workers from industries that drove our economy, but are now declining, such as coal and oil, to retrain for the new green economy.

Key elements of the Biden plan

These are key elements for the building out the infrastructure and a clean energy future.

  • Build a modern infrastructure – The plan outlines using American labor to transform the transportation infrastructure by fixing the railroads and investing in municipal transportation networks. It also includes steps to revitalize communities across the country by ensuring clean drinking water, expanding 5G broadband to all and cleaning up brownfield properties, including old powerplants, landfills, and abandoned mines.