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Biden to Announce Steps to Help Communities Deal With Extreme Heat


President Biden will announce new measures on Thursday aimed at helping communities across the country deal with extreme weather, as rising temperatures scorch much of the country and amplify alarms about the climate crisis.

The announcement, to be made in an auditorium on the White House grounds, will come on a day when the National Weather Service is warning that temperatures in the nation’s capital could hit triple digits for the first time in nearly seven years. White House officials said the new measures would include funding to improve weather prediction, grants to help ensure clean drinking water across the West and protections for workers who are most vulnerable to heat deaths.

Those types of measures — trying to adapt to the effects of global warming rather than dealing with its source — illustrate Mr. Biden’s bind on the climate. Even as heat waves smash temperature records on three continents and some members of his own party have called for him to be more aggressive in blocking fossil fuel projects, he faces a Congress that is hostile to climate legislation.

In a news briefing on Wednesday, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said the new measures would build on what she called an “aggressive and ambitious climate agenda.”

“From Day 1, President Biden has treated climate change with the urgency it requires,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said, pointing to measures like the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant climate law in history.

Scientists and activists called the new measures important but insufficient. With research showing that recent heat waves in the United States and Europe would have been “virtually impossible” without the influence of man-made climate change, many climate experts said Mr. Biden needed to take a strong stand against new fossil fuels.

“We know with almost perfect confidence that we are supercharging these heat extremes — we’re doing it by burning fossil fuels,” said Jonathan Overpeck, the dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. He added, “If we don’t stop the burning of fossil fuels, all of this continues to get worse.”

Pressed by reporters on Wednesday, Ms. Jean-Pierre would not say whether the president was prepared to declare a climate emergency, a tool that would give Mr. Biden more power to expand renewable power and block oil and gas projects without Congress’s assent. Activists have long pushed Mr. Biden to do so, but the White House has expressed worries in the past about its authority to take such unilateral measures, fearing that they might be overturned in the courts.

Instead, Ms. Jean-Pierre pointed to the ongoing benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act, which Mr. Biden signed into law last year but whose funding will continue flowing for years to come. It contains nearly $370 billion in tax credits to spur wind and solar power and electric vehicle battery manufacturing in the United States and incentives for purchases of electric vehicles, induction stoves and electric heat pumps.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is going to make a difference as we’re trying to deal with this climate crisis,” she said.

In a fact sheet issued by the White House on Wednesday, officials said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would devote $7 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to improve weather forecasts. Additionally, the fact sheet said, the Interior Department will use $152 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law Mr. Biden signed in 2021 to increase water storage capacity and “enhance climate resilience” in California, Colorado and Washington. Officials said funding from both pieces of legislation would also be used to modernize water infrastructure throughout the West, which has experienced severe drought.

The Labor Department will also increase inspections of high-risk work sites, such as those in construction and agriculture, that are prone to heat-safety violations, officials said.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on Wednesday that if Democrats won back control of the House and kept a majority in the Senate in next year’s elections, lawmakers would take more action to cut carbon emissions. “You ain’t seen nothing yet,” Mr. Schumer said. He declined to say what policies he had in mind.

Several Republicans, meanwhile, questioned the well-established science linking the recent heat waves and climate change.

“I don’t think anybody really knows,” said Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana. He maintained that the Inflation Reduction Act had not helped the climate or the country, but instead had been “incredibly inflationary.”

Mr. Biden has pledged that the United States will cut its climate pollution roughly in half by the end of this decade and will stop adding carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere altogether by 2050. Although the Inflation Reduction Act is expected to significantly reduce emissions, it is unlikely to achieve that target on its own: The law, combined with regulations restricting power plants and vehicle tailpipes, is predicted to cut greenhouse gas emissions about 40 percent this decade.


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