Biden, Remaking Climate Team, Picks John Podesta to Guide Spending

Mr. Podesta, a Democratic stalwart, will oversee $370 billion in clean energy investments. Gina McCarthy, the president’s domestic climate adviser, is stepping down.

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By Lisa Friedman

WASHINGTON — President Biden will appoint John Podesta, a veteran Washington insider who spearheaded the Obama administration’s climate strategy, to oversee the federal investment of $370 billion in clean energy under a landmark new climate law.

As a senior adviser to Mr. Biden on clean energy innovation, Mr. Podesta will shape how the government disperses billions of dollars in tax credits and incentives to industries that are developing wind and solar energy, as well as to consumers who want to install solar panels, heat and cool their homes with electric heat pumps or buy electric vehicles.

In addition to his time in the Obama administration, Mr. Podesta, 73, served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful campaign for president in 2016. He founded the Center for American Progress, a left leaning think tank, and is now chairman of its board. From that perch, Mr. Podesta has informally been advising the Biden administration, pushing the White House to act more aggressively on climate change.

In bringing on Mr. Podesta, Mr. Biden continues to surround himself with veterans of past Democratic administrations, old hands who can step into challenging positions without on-the-job training.

“His deep roots in climate and clean energy policy and his experience at senior levels of government mean we can truly hit the ground running,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Podesta in a statement.

Mr. Podesta will begin work at the White House on Tuesday as Gina McCarthy, the president’s national climate adviser, gets ready to depart on Sept. 16, administration officials said.

Ms. McCarthy, 68, who played a central role in integrating climate policy across federal agencies and increasing government support for wind and solar development, had been widely expected to step down for months. McCarthy has told associates that the travel associated with her current job was tiring and that she never intended to stay for the president’s full four-year term.

When Mr. Biden signed the climate law last month, it provided a natural pivot point for Ms. McCarthy. She will be succeeded by her deputy, Ali Zaidi.

In an interview, Mr. Podesta described his new job as “throwing the weight of federal government policy behind a cycle of investment and innovation that we haven’t seen before in the United States, and that is almost unique in the world.”

He said the opportunity “was worth coming out of retirement for.”

“The transformation of the energy economy is going to be the biggest thing economically that is happening in this country,” said Mr. Podesta, who will step down from the board of the Center for American Progress immediately. “If people are going to feel this in their daily lives, it’s going to be because they’ve got a good job, they’re paying less for energy, they’re breathing cleaner air and their children have a future that is not blighted by the threat of climate change.”

The White House pas de deux between Mr. Podesta and Ms. McCarthycomes at a critical juncture for Democrats, who hope fresh action on a number of fronts like climate change will lift their prospects in the midterm elections in November.

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


A substantive legislation. The $370 billion climate, tax and health care package that President Biden signed on Aug. 16 could have far-reaching effects on the environment and the economy. Here are some of the key provisions:

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


Auto industry. Until now, taxpayers could get up to $7,500 in tax credits for purchasing an electric vehicle, but there was a cap on how many cars from each manufacturer were eligible. The new law will eliminate this cap and extend the tax credit until 2032; used cars will also qualify for a credit of up to $4,000.

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


Energy industry. The legislation will provide billions of dollars in rebates for Americans who buy energy efficient and electric appliances. Companies will get tax credits for building new sources of emissions-free electricity. The package also includes $60 billion set aside to encourage clean energy manufacturing and penalties for methane emissions that exceed federal limits starting in 2024.

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


Health care. For the first time, Medicare will be allowed to negotiate with drugmakers on the price of some prescription medicines. The law also extends subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act, which were set to expire at the end of the year, for an additional three years.

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


Tax code. The law introduces a new 15 percent corporate minimum tax on the profits companies report to shareholders, applying to companies that report more than $1 billion in annual income but are able to use credits, deductions and other tax treatments to lower their effective tax rates. The legislation will bolster the I.R.S. with an investment of about $80 billion.

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


Low-income communities. The package includes over $60 billion in support of low-income communities and communities of color that are disproportionately burdened by climate change. Among the provisions are grants for zero-emissions technology and money to mitigate the negative effects of highways and other transportation facilities.

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


Fossil fuels industry. The legislation requires the federal government to auction off more public space for oil drilling and expand tax credits for coal and gas-burning plants that rely on carbon capture technology. These provisions are among those that were added to gain the support of Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia.

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act


West Virginia. The law is expected to bring big benefits to Mr. Manchin’s state, the nation’s second-largest producer of coal, making permanent a federal trust fund to support miners with black lung disease and offering new incentives to build wind and solar farms in areas where coal mines or coal plants have recently closed.

The passage of the climate and tax bill injected momentum into a climate agenda that had appeared to be on life support amid internal divisions among Democrats and a recent Supreme Court ruling hostile to environmental regulation.

“This was like watching Lazarus rise from the dead,” Mr. Podesta wrote in a text the day the Senate passed the bill.

Among the challenges Mr. Podesta faces is anger from some progressives over the new law because, while it promises a historic level of investment in climate action, it also provides for new fossil fuel projects.

Some of the concessions seen as necessary to win a pivotal vote from Senator Joe Manchin III, whose home state of West Virginia is rich in coal and natural gas, were new offshore oil lease sales and a promise that new wind or solar projects on federal land or waters would be linked to additional leasing for oil and gas drilling.

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