Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

Vice President Kamala Harris in Seattle: The climate clock is "banging"

Share this Post:
Photo by Nate Gowdy
Photo by Nate Gowdy

On August 15, Vice President Kamala Harris touched down at King County International Airport (aka Boeing Field), then went to McKinstry, a construction and energy services company "dedicated to innovating the waste and climate harm out of the built environment." Once there, she and others shared remarks about the Biden-Harris administration's efforts to address the climate crisis by creating a robust "clean-energy economy" through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

First on stage was McKinstry's chief executive officer and chairman, Dean Allen, who welcomed the crowd, saying, "We're here to celebrate our achievements but also to look forward. We're enthused about the future but also nervous." He also discussed McKinstry's part in President Biden's plans for investing in businesses that prioritize their impact on the environment.

McKinstry committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2025 and carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 when it signed the Climate Pledge, an environmental promise initiated by Amazon. Allen spoke about taking action for the future, saying, "We need to be better at moving our feet and not just our lips."

Next, Mayor Bruce Harrell of Seattle stepped up to the podium. "Major cities across the country are responsible for 70% of the world's carbon emissions," he said. "Cities have the obligation and opportunity to drive progress with the Biden-Harris administration."

According to the City of Seattle's Office of Sustainability and Environment "2020 Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory" report, between 2008 and 2020, emissions from buildings, transportation, and waste decreased 21.5%. Though the report admits that shutdowns during the pandemic skewed the numbers to a degree, it is clear that Seattle's environmental policies and plans are working.

Mayor Harrell continued, "We're working right now on our commitment to our city through policy... to develop a 30% tree canopy and a clear goal of innovating emissions performance in decarbonizing our buildings. We're doing the hard policy work right here in Seattle. The IRA is helping us to go in further."

Photo by Nate Gowdy  

"A new beast"
Next up was Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who said, "[Climate change] must be defeated. We knew that beast was coming for us a year ago. Look what has happened since that time, in the intervening year across the world. People falling on the pavement being burned, massive ice melts, and our cataclysmic wildfires. We have to recognize reality. This is not your grandmother's climate change anymore. It is a new beast. It's an accelerating thing that demands immediate action."

Gov. Inslee spoke on the IRA and its benefits, saying, "[Washingtonians] are going to get more charging stations, so people can charge their electric cars, leading the transition to an electric future all across the state of Washington. This means more jobs as these initiatives come into place across the United States... The Biden-Harris administration is turning the Rust Belt in the Midwest into a clean-energy belt of jobs."

According to a report by the nonprofit climate advocacy group Climate Power, clean-energy companies announced over 100,000 new jobs in 31 states after the IRA became law, including 1,300 in Washington. When predicting the effects of the IRA over a decade, the Labor Energy Partnership projected 1.3 million jobs created. A more optimistic prediction from Blue Green Alliance and the Political Economy Research Institute said that over 9 million jobs would be created by 2030.

"Fighting climate change through investment"
Sen. Maria Cantwell was next to address the room. "Washington has long been the epicenter of affordable energy pricing," she said, "and we know that we may have record heat in Seattle, but we also have a record investment in diversifying our energy future and driving down the cost for consumers. The IRA is about... saying to legacy companies that just holding on to your record profits is not the direction we need to go."

Sen. Cantwell added that the IRA is making electric vehicles more affordable for the average citizen through tax credits starting this year. Those that switch to electric cars could see savings of around $2,000 a year in fuel costs. She said that the investments in industries like aviation and waste management through the IRA will not only fight climate change but have a "certainty to lower costs" for the average American.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said that "America's passivity" when it came to clean energy was seen as an "opportunity" by other countries to gain more say on the world stage. However, with the IRA, the United States will repair its economy through stackable tax credits for companies that pay prevailing wages, hire union apprentices, use American-made components, provide jobs in low-income communities, and employ clean energy.

A young woman followed Secretary Granholm, an HVAC technician helping build the clean-energy future the previous speakers were celebrating. She shared how her father was a technician and how he inspired her to join the industry, saying, "As a woman in the trades, I do whatever I can to advocate to young people about what's possible."

After a few more words, she introduced the long-awaited vice president.

Photo by Nate Gowdy  

The administration's efforts
"Every day around the world, the impact of the climate crisis, we are seeing it in real life," Vice President Harris said. "Here, of course, in Washington state, you have received deadly heat waves and devastating wildfires. Across the nation, we see communities choked by drought, washed out by flood, and decimated by hurricanes. So, I will say that President Biden will continue to do all that we can to help people in Hawaii. Both in terms of what they need now and what they need in terms of recovering... So all that to say, it is clear the clock is not just ticking. It is banging."

Vice President Harris discussed how President Biden enacted "the largest climate investment in America's history," incentivizing consumers to drive electric vehicles, more solar and wind energy production, and even electric school buses. She elaborated on the effects of this on the job market, saying to applause, "Already, we have created 2,500 new solar panel manufacturing jobs... we have created more than 175,000 new clean-energy jobs... good-paying union jobs." The Biden-Harris administration will also be "building thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines" to deliver clean energy to American homes.

She summarized the benefits of President Biden's plans by highlighting the importance of saving consumers money through cheaper electric bills, "Every year, working families spend thousands of dollars just to keep the fridge and lights on."

Bringing her speech to a close, she said, "All this to say, together we are building a clean-energy economy. Through all our work, President Biden and I are building an economy that works for working people. And that, my friends, is called Bidenomics."