Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States of America, and Kamala Harris will break through many barriers to become the next Vice President of the United States of America (including first female VP, first Black VP, and first Indian-American VP). Congratulations to them both, and I am thrilled to think about what President Biden and Vice President Harris can do to turn the United States around on the topic of climate action and cleantech.
Unfortunately, it looks likely that Republicans will continue to control the Senate, which probably means that Biden and Harris will be able to get virtually nothing done through Congress — if the past decade of Mitch McConnell’s horribly anti-American, anti-progress obstructionism and tremendous political partisanship is any indication of what is in store. However, there’s still much that President Biden and VP Harris can do.
Yes, rejoining the Paris climate accords will be a big move that Biden will make immediately after taking office in January. Along with that, here are 21 items I’d like to see Biden put into action:
- Use Department of Energy (DOE) to roll out a large amount of EV charging infrastructure, including relaunching — at a much bigger scale — the Workplace Charging Challenge and bringing back billions of dollars in DOE loans for EV charging infrastructure.
- Use Department of Energy to hasten the adoption of solar energy and wind energy through technological and financial support (DOE loans again, for example), and through nationwide permitting standards for rooftop solar panels that streamline and dramatically lower the cost of solar permitting across the United States.
- Help secure, streamline, and simplify US mining for critical raw materials for electric vehicle batteries — such as lithium and nickel.
- Support the birth and development of battery cathode, anode, and cell production facilities — perhaps through DOE loans, special cleantech permitting programs, brownfield redevelopment programs, or broader initiatives bringing in private sector leaders and figuring out how to break down specific hurdles to development in the US.
- Raise awareness around the current competitiveness and enormous benefits of driving electric. I think the #1 barrier to faster EV adoption (aside from production capacity) is still lack of awareness — and specifically a lot of misinformation about electric vehicles. The US government could do a great job dissolving myths and increasing enthusiasm and awareness regarding electric transport.
- Raise awareness around the current competitiveness and enormous benefits of rooftop solar power and community solar power.
- Stronger Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards — going further than what was put in place under the Obama/Biden administration, as promised in the Biden/Harris campaign plan.
- Help seed and quicken the development of electric airplanes and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as you and Obama did for Tesla a decade ago.
- Implement programs to support the funding and adoption of electric buses and faster trains.
- Reverse all of the harmful executive orders and agency changes that Donald Trump imposed on the USA.
- Build out a national HVDC grid along federal right-of-ways including, highways and rail lines, as promised.
- Roll out massive, broad energy efficiency programs through the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
- Try to work with Congress using Biden’s and Harris’ decades of experience as a friendly dealmakers in the US Senate in order to, hopefully, get some stuff done through Congress. Admittedly, though, I am skeptical about how much can get done with the Republicans/McConnell in charge of the Senate.
- Work engineering, cleantech, and climate science into early education through Department of Education initiatives. (By the way, can Jill Biden be the Secretary of Education?)
- Implement programs to help Black, Latino, veteran, and traditional blue-collar communities learn skills related to solar energy, wind energy, electric vehicle, and energy efficiency tech deployment as well as find entryways into entrepreneurship and business development.
- Work with industry leaders to dissolve myths regarding self-driving vehicles and reveal their net benefits.
- Green the US military like a Mo-Fo!
- Implement massive federal government procurement of electric vehicles, EV charging equipment, solar power, and energy efficient tech — including a fleet of bulletproof Tesla Cybertrucks for the Secret Service.
- Ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
- Ban fracking. Just kidding. 😉 But really, ban fracking on public lands.
- Implement a messaging campaign every single day that explains how Democrats stimulate green jobs and a healthy economy, and how much more could get done without obstructionism in the Senate. (Aka campaign hard for two years in order to get control of the Senate in 2022.)
Can I also stick something in there about funding for cleantech media companies?
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 12, 2020
Featured image: screenshot of Joe Biden campaign video