One-on-one: White House Climate Advisor on infrastructure package & the electric grid

Sen. Bill Cassidy agrees there are funds in the $1 trillion bill for power infrastructure
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 7:16 PM CDT
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White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy says funding in the infrastructure bill will benefit...
White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy says funding in the infrastructure bill will benefit the nation's electric grid.(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As hundreds of thousands of Louisianans remain without electricity because of Hurricane Ida, White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy says funds in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package will benefit the electric grid and support other resiliency improvements.

“We learned that with the levees, many of them because they were hardened and made more strong, they were able to protect more communities. We have to have that same can-do attitude moving forward. It’s not, climate change is not going to go away, and we have to be resilient in the face of these challenges,” said McCarthy.

FOX 8 spoke one-on-one with McCarthy about the need to harden the nation’s electric grid and other infrastructure.

“It’s the infrastructure bill, there’s a significant amount of money in exactly for grid transmission. It’s done in two, in a couple of different ways. There’s money directly that’s going to support the rebuilding of transmission lines as well as making sure that you have the interconnected system that you need to actually allow renewables to come in and start replacing those fossil fuels where we can and where it’s cost-effective,” said McCarthy. “But it’s also providing the federal government, specifically, the Department of Energy with more authority to get this done and get this done quickly.”

Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana who helped to craft the bipartisan infrastructure deal agrees the trillion-dollar legislation will help the grid.

“There are billions to harden the grid, to have more resiliency both by giving diversity to the grid and other things that make this sort of even less likely. Also, working to pass that bipartisan bill through the House of Representatives,” said Cassidy.

He said the use of more solar power would help especially when hurricanes decimate utilities’ electrical systems.

“I think we need to think about a distributed grid where maybe more people have solar, if their roofs stay, they still have power,” said Cassidy.

Also on Capitol Hill, Democrats have a separate $3.5 trillion dollar package to address what some Democrats call “human infrastructure” needs and climate change.

“The second bill we have is really all about how do we make that transition to clean energy because we know that we can’t continue to have carbon emissions making climate change worse and worse over time. The time is now to shift to clean energy and use that as an opportunity to grow thousands, if not millions of new clean energy jobs across our country,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy says the Biden administration is confident it can get both bills approved by members of Congress.

“We are confident, we’re confident in the first infrastructure bill because it was basically an outcome of the president working together with both Republicans and Democrats to make it happen. These are necessary investments to harden our infrastructure which is important not just to Louisiana but across the country,” said McCarthy. “The second piece, the reconciliation budget piece continues to be negotiated in good faith you know, we are working hard to make sure that it is the right investments at the right time and at the level that we need.”

And the administration continues to work to ease the post-Ida gasoline crunch.

“I know there’s been a number of efforts underway that have produced flexibility in the system about both fuels, getting them in there, what types of fuels, how we ramp this up. So, I think every effort is underway for us to serve the needs of Louisiana both in terms of how they recover from this tremendous hurricane but also how we can rebuild those systems to make sure that they’re resilient to the challenges of climate that everybody knows is sort of the new normal that we have to build towards,” McCarthy stated.

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