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Biden touts his climate credentials in California

<i>Kevin Lamarque/Reuters</i><br/>
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

By Donald Judd and Sam Fossum, CNN

(CNN) — President Joe Biden on Monday touted his administration’s record on climate change, which he called “the most aggressive climate action ever,” while hitting Republicans in Congress for trying to block it.

“What we’re seeing here is an amazing success story of how you can work together to make our communities more climate resilient – that matters, it matters, resiliency matters,” he said from the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center and Preserve in Palo Alto, California, after a tour.

“I’ve toured many sites across the country that clearly show climate change as a genuine existential – as the existential threat to humanity – the existential threat to humanity.”

Biden’s defense of his climate record comes less than one week after four major environmental groups endorsed his 2024 reelection for president in the first-ever joint endorsement from the LCV Action Fund, NextGen PAC, the Sierra Club, and the NRDC Action Fund.

Biden heavily courted climate and environmental justice groups during his last campaign and has made the climate crisis central to his governing agenda with new announcements over the last couple months on environmental justice initiatives and aggressive new rules to regulate planet-warming pollution from natural gas power plants.

However, some groups have expressed frustration over his administration’s approval of a major Alaska oil project earlier this year.

During his remarks Biden recounted previous trips to California during which he surveyed wildfire damage, noting that last year natural disasters caused $165 billion in damages across the country.

“But the worsening impacts are not inevitable – building on our incredible efforts locally, my administration is doing all we can to help recover and build, so we can be prepared to adapt,” he said, outlining a series of new steps specifically focused on climate resilience.

Among those steps are the $575 million “Climate Resilience Regional Challenge,” which will be launched by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The initiative will help coastal and Great Lakes communities “become more resilient to extreme weather and other impacts of the climate crisis,” according to a White House fact sheet.

Other moves include $2 billion in Department of Energy funding – including $67 million for California alone – to modernize the electrical grid and make it more climate resilient, and the first-ever White House Climate resilience summit.

The funding is provided through the Inflation Reduction Act, the president’s signature health care and climate legislation.

However, that law has been under siege by congressional Republicans who are trying to repeal some of its provisions.

“This is how we’re going to meet the moment – unfortunately, some of our MAGA Republican friends in Congress are continuing to try to undo all the progress we’ve already made in the first two and a half years,” Biden said.

“They were holding the country hostage over the debt limit unless I would gut the climate provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act – I had determined not to let that happen … and in the end, we didn’t just protect some of the climate money and clean energy provisions, we protected every single solitary one.”

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