• Biden notes minority communities are disproportionately burdened by pollution
  • He said he would invest $2 trillion in infrastructure improvements, leaning on clean energy to create millions of jobs to put people back to work
  • Biden sees the nation at a pivotal point where the country is ready for transformational change

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled sweeping plans to transform environmental and energy policy, marrying efforts to clean up the environment to racial justice as part of an effort to overcome the economic recession triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

He also called for infrastructure improvements to “create millions of good-paying jobs that provide workers with the choice to join a union” in a speech to be delivered in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden’s sweeping plans come at what could be a transformative moment for the United States as coronavirus surges from coast to coast, disrupting American lives and putting Black and Hispanic communities at particular risk.

The plans call for overhauling the Justice Department approach to the environment as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to civil rights. He also wants to establish a White House-level environmental advisory board.

“President Trump has a devastating pattern of denying science and leaving our country unprepared and vulnerable,” Biden said in a fact sheet prepared ahead of the speech. “Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he ignored public health experts, praised the Chinese government, and failed to take the actions needed to protect the American people.

“And as the crisis accelerated, Trump rolled back environmental standards that protect public health – adding to the 100 similar environmental and public health protections he has rolled back since taking office – even though early data suggests a link between exposure to pollution and serious negative health impacts from the virus.”

As of last week, the administration had rolled back 67 environmental rules with 33 more rollbacks in progress.

Biden’s plan calls for jail time for corporate executives where merited for environmental violations. He also would invest $2 trillion to speed development of clean energy as an engine for job creation to reinvigorate the economy and put people who lost jobs because of the pandemic back to work.

“We need millions of construction, skilled trades, and engineering workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy. These jobs will create pathways for young people and for older workers shifting to new professions, and for people from all backgrounds and all communities,” the fact sheet said.

Decisions, he said, will be driven by science.

Should Biden be elected, implementation of his plans could transform the government. In a 45-minute call with reporters Monday, Biden said the crises facing the country provide the opportunity to make systemic changes, much the way pivotal moments enabled Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan to overhaul policy and open new eras.

“Something’s happening here, it really is. The American people are going, ‘Whoa, come on, we’ve got to do something,’” the New York Times quoted Biden as saying.