A Trillion-Dollar Bet on Clean Energy

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President Biden’s economic team is finalizing plans to invest between $3 trillion and $4 trillion in spending and tax credits to lift the economy, but one thing is already certain: Tackling climate change and shifting to clean energy will underpin virtually every part of the package.

The move represents a major philosophical shift in how Democrats talk about solving global warming. They’re not treating it like a side element of broader economic stimulus efforts, as in the Obama era. This time, fixing climate change is at the heart of the economic plan.

Why it matters: Democrats have struggled to make the case for reducing planet-warming greenhouse gases. The new spending plans show they are coalescing around a clear message, that solving climate change goes hand-in-hand with lifting the economy.

The numbers: Climate-related spending in the economic plan could reach $2 trillion, one source said.


The office of Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, has put the brakes on a plan by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update flood insurance rates by making them more accurately reflect the risks faced by individual policyholders.

The new rates were supposed to start going into effect on Oct. 1. Now with Mr. Schumer objecting that the overhaul will hurt some of his New York constituents, it’s unclear whether that will still happen.

The dust-up demonstrates a big problem for elected officials: Measures to address the risks that come with rising seas can be very unpopular among constituents with waterfront property. — Christopher Flavelle and Emily Cochrane

Key numbers: For 23 percent of households with flood insurance, costs would go down under the FEMA plan. Another 73 percent would see no change, or an increase of no more than $20 a month. But some high-risk households would eventually see their rates go up fivefold or more.

Why it matters: Flood insurance premiums are among the government’s most powerful tools for discouraging construction in high-risk areas.


Two huge storms have converged over eastern Australia over the past week, dumping more than three feet of rain in just five days. The flooding comes less than a year after the country suffered the worst wildfires in its recorded history.

Scientists say that both forms of catastrophe represent Australia’s new normal. The country is one of many seeing a pattern of intensification — more extreme hot days and heat waves, as well as more extreme rainfalls over short periods. — Damien Cave

Video: The floods necessitated at least 500 rescues in New South Wales and Queensland.

The Keystone XL pipeline might not run through your backyard, but there are probably other important environmental issues up for debate in your community. The problem? It can be hard to find out about them.

Most state environmental agencies have a newsletter or bulletin because they’re required to notify residents about specific actions. Unfortunately, those bulletins can be pretty boring, long and confusing.

It might be more effective to join a local environmental advocacy organization, said Kimberly Ong, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, though not necessarily a big national one. Plus, states and municipalities have different rules, which can be hard to navigate by yourself.

There are a few reasons you, as a local, have more power this way: You’re the expert on your area, your health might be affected, and you have a say in whether the politicians or officials responsible keep their jobs, she said.

These groups have experts who are paying close attention to legislation and regulatory changes and can distill this information to help you figure out how best to leverage your power. Speaking with one voice makes a big difference, Ms. Ong said.

“It’s always good to have a buddy, but it’s especially good to have a buddy in environmental advocacy,” she said. — Tatiana Schlossberg


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