By Rachel Koning Beals
The Treasury secretary argues in Thursday speech that the Biden administration's recent climate moves keep the U.S. on a path to cut emissions 40% by 2030
That's Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who was on the road in Detroit this week, where its famous auto show kicks off in coming days. She pushed what the Biden administration believes is a policy spark to get the private sector ramping up so-called green energy solutions that can help the U.S. meet ambitious emissions-slashing targets.
The nation is on track to hit its goals to cut emissions, including lowering Earth-warming CO2 emissions by some 40% as soon as 2030, Yellen, who previously led the Federal Reserve, said Thursday afternoon. Treasury released an advance excerpt of her prepared remarks earlier this week.
Yellen spoke at the Ford Motor Co.'s(F) Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, following a tour of its production line.
She stressed that administration goals will put the U.S. on firmer footing against Russia's Vladimir Putin, whose unprovoked attack against Ukraine has roiled global energy markets, sending Europe into a potential winter heating crisis and driving up U.S. gas prices during a time of high inflation. Retreating gas prices pushed at least one inflation report lower in late August for the first time in two years.
Yellen said the recently passed, climate-focused spending legislation, broadly known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), will spur key investments in green tech, which can mean electric vehicles, but also the chips(AMD) needed for energy-storing batteries and other equipment.
The spending law, which was signed by President Joe Biden on Aug. 16, "represents the largest investment in fighting climate change in our country's history," Yellen will say.
"In the coming months, we expect to see significant movements of private capital into growing industries, such as clean energy production and semiconductor fabrication. We will coordinate permitting reform across the government to speed up these investments while upholding bedrock standards and laws," Yellen said.
"We also understand the importance of reliable and sustainable sourcing of raw minerals and materials -- such as polysilicon, lithium and cobalt, and iron and steel -- as we build the chips, batteries and infrastructure of the future," she added.
The IRA was reduced in size from more aggressive spending in early drafts. But Democrats like to argue it, and executive actions, still greatly strengthen U.S. efforts on climate change, for which the nation faces pressure from China's wind, solar(ICLN) and other technological developments. Not all analysts agree that the U.S. can surpass China any time soon.
Related: Climate portion of IRA would keep U.S. 'within striking distance' of halving emissions by 2030
The U.S. is also meant to largely match the climate-change efforts of major economies in Europe and help make up for the suffering of developing nations --often mined for their resources -- in facing extreme heat and rising seas, the U.N. has said.
The law "will put us well on our way toward a future where we depend on the wind, sun and other clean sources for our energy," Yellen said. "We will rid ourselves from our current dependence on fossil fuels and the whims of autocrats like Putin," she said, referring to the Russian president.
Republicans have been critical of the Biden administration's green push during the Russian attack on Ukraine and related market disruptions that added to a post-COVID 19 jump in oil prices. Prices haved pulled back somewhat. GOP leaders especially say that more U.S. energy exploration and drilling, including natural gas, are key to holding down prices and retaining U.S. independence when places such as Russia throw their weight around.
The Biden administration, and most climate policy experts, say that conflicts in resource-rich exporters actually bolster the argument for renewable alternatives closer to home.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a Thursday release that extreme heat in California is straining an electric grid and shows the shortsightedness of "green" initiatives for electric vehicles and energy alternatives pushed by the state and reinforced by the Biden administration.
Democrats have made California's electrical grid into a giant experiment to try out all their misunderstandings about energy policy. It's not going well. With hot-weather demand surging, California authorities are sweating potential shortfalls of up to 5,000 megawatts," the Kentucky Republican said.
"So California Democrats don't want you putting gas in your car, and they don't want you to plug in your car either. That's exactly where their war on energy would leave the American people: Going nowhere fast," he added.
Yellen said Thursday that experts have estimated the new law will put the U.S. on a path to cut emissions by about 40% within eight years, compared with 2005 levels. It's not clear whose statistics she is using. She didn't provide further steps the U.S. aims to take to reach net zero emissions, the common phrasing used across nations.
On his first day in office in 2021, Biden signed an executive order re-committing the U.S. to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate, which pledges to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030
Biden will travel to Detroit himself, on Wednesday, to visit the Detroit Auto Show. He plans to highlight "the electric vehicle manufacturing boom" in America(TSLA) , the White House announced.
Read: Yes, we can make EVs cheaper and charge them faster, scientists say
More Key Words:
'Invest in Ukraine': Zelensky asks for support while remotely ringing NYSE opening bell
Gavin Newsom says 2024 presidential bid is 'not gonna happen'
Jim Jordan says 'Real America' is upset with Biden over student loan forgiveness plan
-Rachel Koning Beals
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 08, 2022 16:06 ET (20:06 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.