President Joe Biden embarked on a Western tour on Monday, aiming to highlight his work on conservation, clean energy and veterans’ benefits. He also sought to draw an implicit contrast with his predecessor, Donald Trump, who had rolled back environmental protections and clashed with military leaders.
Biden visits Colorado to promote clean energy and innovation
Biden’s first stop was in Colorado, where he toured the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden. He praised the state’s leadership in developing renewable energy sources and combating climate change. He also announced new initiatives to support research and innovation in clean energy, such as solar, wind and hydrogen power.
Biden said that investing in clean energy would create millions of good-paying jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance national security. He argued that the U.S. had to lead the world in the transition to a low-carbon economy, or risk falling behind China and other competitors.
Biden also defended his $3.5 trillion spending plan, which includes funding for climate action, social programs and infrastructure. He said that the plan would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and that it would not add to the deficit or inflation. He criticized Republicans for opposing his agenda, saying that they were beholden to special interests and out of touch with ordinary Americans.
Biden honors veterans and Native Americans in New Mexico
Biden’s next destination was New Mexico, where he visited the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. He met with veterans and military families, and thanked them for their service and sacrifice. He also touted his efforts to improve health care, education and employment opportunities for veterans, especially those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or exposure to toxic substances.
Biden also acknowledged the contributions of Native Americans to the nation’s history and culture, and pledged to uphold the federal government’s trust and treaty obligations to tribal nations. He said that his administration had increased funding for Native American health care, education, housing and infrastructure, and had appointed Native Americans to key positions in his cabinet and administration.
Biden also expressed his solidarity with the people of New Mexico, who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, droughts and wildfires. He said that his administration was providing federal assistance to help them recover and rebuild. He also urged them to get vaccinated and follow public health guidelines to prevent further spread of the virus.
Biden celebrates conservation achievements in California
Biden’s final stop was in California, where he joined Governor Gavin Newsom at Sequoia National Park. He celebrated the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which he signed into law last year. The act provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which supports the protection of natural areas, wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities across the country. The act also allocates billions of dollars to address the maintenance backlog in national parks and other public lands.
Biden said that preserving America’s natural heritage was not only a moral duty, but also an economic opportunity. He said that outdoor recreation supported millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue for local communities. He also said that conserving nature was essential for combating climate change, enhancing biodiversity and ensuring clean water and air for future generations.
Biden contrasted his vision with that of Trump, who had slashed funding for environmental programs, opened public lands to oil and gas drilling, weakened wildlife protections and withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. Biden said that he had reversed many of Trump’s actions, and had taken bold steps to restore America’s leadership in the global fight against climate change. He cited his executive orders to rejoin the Paris agreement, halt new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, expand offshore wind power and create a civilian climate corps.