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Biden unveils $7 billion for rooftop solar in Earth Day message

Biden unveils $7 billion for rooftop solar in Earth Day message

Tuesday, April 23, 2024, 10:32 GMT+7
Biden unveils $7 billion for rooftop solar in Earth Day message
U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Za'Nyia Kelly stand with him, at an event to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

TRIANGLE, Va. -- President Joe Biden on Monday celebrated Earth Day by announcing $7 billion in grants for residential solar projects that will power nearly a million low-income households.

The announcement kicks off a week of activities aimed at touting his administration's record on climate change.

Biden revealed the funding in a speech at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, where he also announced that applications are open to join the American Climate Corps, a program to prepare young people for jobs in climate-related industries.

Young voters, who tend to be more concerned about climate change, are a key constituency for Biden, a Democrat, as he prepares to face former President Donald Trump, a Republican, in the Nov. 5 presidential election.

The $7 billion of solar funding through the Environmental Protection Agency's Solar for All grant competition was included in Biden's landmark climate change law, the Inflation Reduction Act. It will create 200,000 jobs and save households in the program about $400 a year, according to the White House.

"Solar for All will give us more breathing room and cleaner breathing room," Biden said, noting that low-income families can spend up to 30 percent of their paychecks on energy bills.

Grant recipients include 60 state and local agencies and non-profits with programs to help residents in poor communities go solar and save on their power bills. The winners include several organizations with plans to provide solar to native American households in states including Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.

Residential solar has long been regarded as difficult to access for lower-income Americans because of its high upfront cost and because less affluent people tend to rent their homes or live in apartment buildings.

The program is aligned with Biden's goal to direct 40 percent of federal clean energy investment benefits to disadvantaged communities.

Biden's American Climate Corps will launch a web site, ClimateCorps.gov, where applicants will be able to see 2,000 open positions in 36 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) sit together, at an event to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) sit together, at an event to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

The program's first class will start in June.

The Climate Corps aims to put more than 20,000 young people to work by training them, for example, to install solar panels, operate LiDAR cameras that detect methane emissions and restore mangrove ecosystems, the White House said.

Program participants will have access to pre-apprenticeship training through a partnership with the North America's Building Trades Unions and a streamlined pathway to federal government jobs, Biden said.

"I will put tens of thousands of young people to work at the forefront of our climate resilience and clean energy future," Biden said.

A Biden rival for the presidency also held an Earth Day event on Monday. Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke on keeping the environment in the public's hands during a virtual campaign event, joined by wealthy tech lawyer Nicole Shanahan in their first appearance together since she was announced as his running mate in late March.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) walk together at an event to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) walk together at an event to commemorate Earth Day during a visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, U.S., April 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Last week environmental organizations including the National Resources Defense Council Action Fund and Sierra Club published an open letter calling Kennedy "a dangerous conspiracy theorist and science denier whose agenda would be a disaster for our communities and the planet."

Kennedy's campaign did not have a direct response on the letter.

Reuters

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