Exploring the Biden-Harris Agenda for Climate and Justice with the Mitchell Center – The Maine Campus
On Monday, October 17, the Senator George J. Mitchell Center hosted a conference on the Biden administration’s climate change and justice agenda as part of its ongoing Sustainability Talks series.
The center, located in Norman Smith Hall on the University of Maine campus, hosted keynote speaker David Cash, who is the current Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of New England. Cash has dedicated his career to working with state governments, communities and the private sector to create policies around USHis work aims to address climate change, achieve environmental justice and other related areas which pose some of the most important problems in today’s society.
In his insightful discussion, Cash explored how the current presidential administration is addressing the looming threat of climate change through recent legislation.
“The EPA is a steward of approximately $100 billion that will go to states, tribes, communities and the private sector to get to the greenhouse gas neutral place we need to be,” Cash said. . “It will grow the clean energy economy that will provide prime jobs, and it will do it in a way where we center justice.”
When analyzing who to give funds to, it is important to remember who we need to protect the most. There are many underserved and diverse communities in the United States that have historically been neglected and left to struggle in times of need. Climate change affects everyone, and the administration’s goal is to prioritize low-income, diverse communities who often benefit the most from the intervention, but whose needs are disproportionately met.
In November 2021, President Biden signed an infrastructure bill that would bring $40 million this year to the state of Maine alone. Cash noted that these funds are intended to replace lead pipes and build drinking water and wastewater systems that will be resilient to climate change.
An additional $20 million has been granted to the state through the EPA to be used to clean up former industrial sites in many southern Maine communities to make way for economic development on those lands. . The selected sites will be redeveloped into commercial and residential spaces.
“Maine has done a really good job of converting these horrific community risks into assets,” Cash said.
Federal funding through the Inflation Reduction Act is also crucial as the United States takes a more aggressive approach to combating climate change. New investments will promote offshore wind, electric vehicles, heat pumps in homes and more. Cash reiterated a key goal of this law, which is to focus on environmental climate justice that will particularly benefit the nation’s diverse underserved communities. For example, a five-year program has been implemented to convert old school buses to electric buses so that children can get to school without diesel emissions.
Other renewable energy focuses, particularly offshore wind, are expected to greatly benefit the northeast by creating a need for manufacturing and job growth. Cash demonstrated that Maine has a lot to look forward to in the near future as it receives increased support from the federal government to do its part in addressing climate change while reaping the economic benefits that can come from long-term investments. .
To view a recording of Dr. Cash’s talk or to receive more information about upcoming sustainability talks this fall, visit https://umaine.edu/mitchellcenter/.