The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Congress passed last year includes nearly $370 billion to address climate change, enough to launch a “whole new industry,” Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday on the campus of Georgia Tech.
“There are going to be a lot of new jobs, a lot of new work,” Harris said during an appearance promoting the State of the Union message President Joe Biden delivered Tuesday night. Biden was promoting his speech to the nation almost simultaneously with Harris during a presidential visit Wednesday to Wisconsin.
Harris’ remarks in Atlanta were focused on the portion of the State of the Union message in which Biden called climate change “an existential threat” that the IRA will begin addressing with “the most significant investment ever in climate change.”
Harris, America’s first Black vice president, said she approaches climate change from the perspective of the need for environmental justice.
“Some of the poorest air quality zones in our nation are where people of low income and people of color live,” she said.
Harris said the same dynamics are at play when it comes to water policy in America, citing the discovery in 2014 that the water supply in mostly Black Flint, Mich., was contaminated with lead.
“Access to clean water should be a right and not just a privilege to those who can afford it,” she said. “Government should be paying to remove those pipes. We shouldn’t be putting it just on the residents and homeowners in those communities.”
The government is striking another blow for environmental justice in the tax rebates being offered to Americans who purchase not just new electric vehicles but used EVs, Harris said.
“Everyone should be able to participate in this new clean energy economy,” she said.
Harris said the Biden administration feels a sense of urgency when it comes to dealing with climate change that is already causing a rise in droughts, wildfires, floods, and hurricanes.
“The clock is not just ticking,” she said. “It’s banging. It’s requiring us to move quickly.”
Republicans criticized Harris’ trip to Georgia.
“While hardworking Georgians … are burdened by the high cost of everyday goods, Kamala Harris’ visit today proves just how out of touch this administration is,” said Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, echoing Arkansas GOP Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Republican response to the State of the Union address.
“Instead of spewing more of the same empty rhetoric that Biden delivered last night, Democrats need to take accountability for their failures on everything from rising prices to skyrocketing crime.”
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation