President Joe Biden flew yesterday to storm-ravaged New York and New Jersey, just days after inspecting the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana – a trail of destruction the Democrat blames on climate change.
Biden – who is pushing a giant infrastructure spending bill, including major funding for the green economy – argues that extreme weather across the United States this summer is a harbinger of worse to come.
“For decades, scientists have warned of extreme weather,” Biden said at a meeting with emergency management officials in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey. “We’re living through it now. Every part of the country is getting hit by extreme weather.”
Systemic upgrading of the nation’s infrastructure is an urgent part of the solution, he argued.
“You can’t just build back to what it was before, because another tornado, another 10 inches of rain is going produce the same kind of results,” Biden said. “I think we’re at one of those inflection points where we’re going to act or we’re going to be in real, real trouble. Our kids are going to be in real trouble.”
Ida struck the US Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing major flooding and knocking out power to large parts of the heavily populated region, which is also a main hub for the oil industry. The departing remnants of the hurricane then caught authorities in the New York region by surprise, with ferocious rainfall triggering flash flooding.
The final blast of the storm killed at least 47 people in the US Northeast as it turned streets into raging rivers, inundated basements and shut down the New York subway. And while one part of the country buckles under hurricane fallout, California and other parts of the west are struggling to combat ever fiercer wildfires.
Biden was to tour Manville, New Jersey and the New York borough of Queens before making remarks later in the evening yesterday.
With his presidency straining from the aftermath of the Afghanistan pullout and surging Covid infections at home, Biden faces a difficult coming few weeks, including a struggle to get his infrastructure plans through the narrowly divided Congress. The White House hopes that the dramatic impact from Hurricane Ida in two different parts of the country will galvanise action on the spending bills.
“It’s so imperative that we act on addressing the climate crisis and investing... through his ‘Build Back Better’ agenda, which is working its way through Congress,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.