- Biden said workers will be paid higher wages to prepare for climate change under his resilience plan.
- He said the president’s proposal to build back better includes jobs that pay “$45 or $50 an hour.”
- He added that the plan would return savings of $6 for every dollar invested to prevent a catastrophe.
Jobs that help prepare the United States for a changing climate will pay a high hourly wage, President Joe Biden said after touring storm damage in New York and New Jersey on Tuesday.
“I think of one word when I think of climate change: jobs, well-paying jobs,” he said. “Not $7 or $12 or $15, but $45, $50 an hour, plus health care. That’s what’s needed.”
Biden’s $45 figure is six times higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which has been unchanged since 2009, when Biden was vice president in the Obama administration.
Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to attract talent by offering as little as $15 an hour, making this the actual minimum wage in some cases.
Biden called increased spending on climate resilience a smart investment, saying that every dollar invested under his plan to build back better in things like mitigating floods, preventing wildfires, and burying electric lines would ultimately save $6.
“The storm in the Gulf, as I have now discovered, can reverberate over 10 countries,” he said. “Supply chains and crop production are disrupting, driving up costs, and destroying industries across America. This is everyone’s crisis.”
Triti Bhattacharya, a professor of environmental sciences at Syracuse University, told NPR that Ida has “just the right mix of weather conditions” to wreak havoc across the northeast more than 1,000 miles from where it made landfall in Louisiana.
“A storm like this was exceptionally rare 20 or 50 years ago, but we have to start thinking about it becoming the norm as the climate warms,” she said.
Against this backdrop, Biden is touting his multibillion-dollar spending plan as economically win-win and, most importantly, life-saving.
“It’s a serious, serious business,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.”