tv Sen. Alex Padilla on Energy Infrastructure and Climate Change CSPAN October 1, 2021 2:09pm-2:40pm EDT
indigenous people's history the united states. and the most recent, not a nation of immigrants. she talks about native american culture and history. the women's liberation movement. and the founding of the ungs. join our conversation with your call, tweets, texts, and facebook messages. watch american history, and book tv, every weekend, on c-span 2 and find a full schedule on your program guide. or visit c-span.org. axios hosted a conversation on renewable energy infrastructure and clean energy jobs with california senator alex padilla and the head of the blue green alliance, a partnership between clean energy groups and labor unions. this is half an hour. welcome to the latest news shapers event called the charge forward for clean energy jobs. i'm ben demon energy reporter from axios and i'm coming to you from arlington, virginia.
thank you for bank of america for making this conversation on clean nerjs jobs possible. welcome to our audiences on facebook, youtube, twitter, linked in and axios.com, please join the conversation today on twitter. over the next 30 minutes i will be joined by my colleague andrew freedman and unpack the budget bills and discuss what building a fair economy with quality clean erge jobs could look like. our first guest is the senator from california, senator alex padilla, joining us from los angeles. senator, thanks for being with us. >> good to see you, ben. thank for having me. obviously a timely and important topic here. >> i 100% agree. and i would actually like to start with how you think the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the separate multitrillion legislation that democrats are trying to move through the budget process will create green
energy jobs going forward and i would also like to get a sense of what are your top priorities for these measures? >> sure. look, there's a lot to unpack there but let me start with two things, number one reminding us all of not just the need to act but with the urgency with which we need to act on climate. there's been a debate about the size of the investment in these infrastructure packages, clearly the bipartisan infrastructure package that has been approved by the senate is significant. but nowhere near enough and so we do have part two that we will achieve through, we heard the term a lot these days, budget reconciliation process. >> we have to go big on our investments and infrastructure and if you're not convinced we need to tackle climate with urgency, look at what has happened in recent week, hurricanes impacting the gulf coast, louisiana hit hard again, the flooding that it caused in the northeast, in new york, new jersey, and other areas. and of course, many parts of the west, including my home state of
california, suffered from yet another record-setting wildfire season. and so with the extreme weather patterns, the sustained drought in california, and elsewhere, should should be all of the evidence we need to go big on climate and we have such a unique opportunity at this time. in terms of some of the lems, another point i wanted to make is looking to build on a lot of experience and proven policies that have played a role in the state of california. when i was in the state senate, i served as the chair on energy and communications where at a time for example we used the recovery act dollars coming to california to help fund our california conservation court, for things like energy, and some of the energy efficiency projects. so that's a quick foundation to point to when i say here and now, one of big priorities is
the climate conversation court that we're trying to fund through this infrastructure packages, plural, and we know that we can tackle climate, we know that we can re-train workers, or train younger workers, and jobs for the future, and frankly, i'll address that, economic justice issues but economic justice issues, because of some folks that have been shut out of these investments in the past. another area that we built on some of california's experience is our shift to renewable energy, including providing incentive force more solar, more wind, et cetera, so the clean energy tax credit that is being negotiated, i think it is an important key part, and finally, the think tank accelerator that you're hearing about, in california, i authored the manufacturing tax incentive that started with clean tax and brought into other areas of advanced manufacturing but we don't want to just invest in
renewable energy sources but bring a lot of the investment of job creation opportunity here. >> you mentioned some of the extreme weather that of course has had a very dramatic and tragic toll on your state, but really nationwide, as you were walking me through. do you get a sense that some of these events that we're seeing, be it the wildfires, or the flooding, or other events, is that influencing the politics of this on capitol hill? >> you know, i do think it is. and i'll give you, you know, what i point to, as exhibit a. you know, we were referencing the recent hurricane, the recent wildfires but if we take ourselves back a few months, you will remember the ice storms in texas, that shut down the grid, and had other devastating impacts not just on texas but texans, specifically. so that, i think, created an opportunity for me to reach out to my colleagues, in terms of, senator foreman, and on a bipartisan basis, suggest that
we put federal funding, federal resources, at play, to partner with the utilities, for the purpose of investing in the electrical grid. not just from a reliability standpoint but from a resiliency standpoint and when we're modernizing the grid, we're making the grid more efficient and reducing emissions and environmental benefits for that and for better and for worse and sometimes it takes natural disasters like this to maybe change the politics and the discourse a little bit, a measure was first introduced as a stand-alone power on act, which was so popular on both sides of aisle, that it got absorbed into the bipartisan infrastructure package. the only change they made is they you multiplied the amount of money we were asking for by five. so it was approved by the senate. can't wait for it to get to the president's desk for signature. >> and of course that legislation which obviously has bipartisan support is however on some level tethered to the plan
that the democrats, that your party is trying to move through the budget process. i'm wondering, you know, you're really trying to sort of thread the needle with that one because of course it requires you to have every senate democrat on board. are you optimistic that senators manchin and kyrsten sinema, who are programs the most high profile senators with concerns about this measure, do you think they can be brought to yes and have you had discussions with them that lay out the case that you just offered to make? >> look, i do believe we're going to get to yes at the end of the day, and that end of the day is going to be in the weeks ahead, not the months ahead. because of the urgency that was laid out. i mean the flooding that i spoke to, maybe didn't impact west virginia, but there will be other priority elements in the infrastructure package that my friend senator manchin will want and prioritize and senator kyrsten sinema, representing arizona, is also familiar with the wildfires and the increasing
heat, and for all of us, i mean to look at the most recent report issued by the leading scientists on climate change, that it's not just 25 years from now, and the potential impact of a 1.5 degree increase in average temperature, but again, the impact that we're seeing now, we need to act with urgency, we need to act boldly. that's half the equation. so it's okay to have questions on what the price tag is, but equal, of equal importance is knowing that we're doing this in a fiscally responsible way, making sure that multinational corporations and the wealthiest families in america are paying their fair share of taxes and recovering additional tax revenue for the state by increasing the capacity of the irs to enforce existing tax laws, so it's not just deficit spending, deficit spending, deficit spending, for deficit spending sake, would he know there's a just -- we know there
is a just profr progressive way to fund this and we know the need and the necessity of infrastructure and we haven't started talking about child care, housing, education, and more. >> you mentioned sort of the emerging scientific information and the very recent information from the united nations scientific panel, the united nations is also convening this kind of critical perhaps even make or break global climate summit later on this fall. to what extent does the biden administration need to walk into this summit with this legislation passed? i guess what i'm trying to say is if the negotiations over this bill go on and go on further and perhaps into the winter, do you think that's going to affect the united states ability to bring other countries on board to sort of address it of course as a global emissions problem? >> no, i think it would be a huge boost to president biden and the administration's efforts to bring the rest of the world along.
you can talk the talk and i think it does have a lot of goodwill with leaders around the world, but there's always so much more impactful when you see, to stop what we're seeing, but what we're doing in the united states and people look and president biden, this is a new day, this is not the trump administration anymore, but it is one thing to walk the walk and talk the talk and another thing to walk the walk, and to have congress enacted, so we can demonstrate to our partners globally that we're walking the walk. >> and senator, staying in your home state of california, we just had the governor who appointed you here to your current seat but of course you've had a long history in california politics and policy. he has just kind of beat back this effort to recall him. when people went to the polls, for that recall, do you think that they had his climate change policies on their mind at all? >> no doubt. no doubt. and you turn on the news, daily in california, right now,
especially in the northern half of the state, you're still seeing the impacts of fires and smoke, people that were forced to evacuate, that sort of thing, and so i think science was on the ballots in this recall election, the science about covid and the need for vaccines, and science about climate and the urgency with which we need to act, to have defeated the recall in such a significant margin, i think it tells us californians, that clearly no one is giving up. >> i think that we will make that the last word. senator padilla, thank you so much for joining axios today. >> thank you so much. can't wait for the next one. >> thank you. welcome back. i'm andrew freedman, i'm the climate and energy reporter for axios. our final guest is the executive director of alliance jason walsh joining us from washington, d.c., welcome, thanks for joining us. >> great to be here, andrew. >> thanks, especially on, during
an insanely busy period, probably the busiest period on climate action that i can remember. and one of the most, one of moments filled with the most potential that i think we've ever really seen on this issue. can you discuss with me how the blue green alliance is operating to incentivize the government or try to encourage lawmakers to take climate initiatives, especially seriously, to look at the intersection between, focused on the intersection between the climate action, and clean energy jobs? >> yes, great question. let me start with the big picture. the blue green alliance is a coalition of labor unions and
environmental organizations. it's our partnerships guiding principle that we shouldn't have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment. we can and must have both. we are now in a unique moment in which we can advance policy solutions and make policy choices, as we design by the reconciliation legislation, to rebuild our economy, to be cleaner, and stronger and more equitable. i think as a country, we have learned pretty, or relearned pretty painfully over the last couple of years just how many workers are living pay check to paycheck. how weakened we are by economic and racial inequality. and how deeply we are in the midst of a climate emergency. we have the ability with budget reconciliation to advance solutions to these crises that are as mutually reinforcing and
intersecting as their causes. and we feel like we can't afford not to take advantage of this opportunity. >> and on the jobs piece, you know, being a coalition that some would have thought were, wasn't going to get as mainstream, so much mainstream attention in the climate sphere as the biden administration has really whole scale adopted, you know, the view that climate action is a jobs program, and that these are for good union paying jobs. they said that over and over again. and i'm just curious how you see the balance coming out between if we make these once in a generation investments, in clean energy, versus where we are now,
where we have been just on the number of jobs involved in these energy technologies, and maybe some of the wages involved, like how big of a game do you see this being? and do you think that lawmakers get that? because there's still rhetoric among capitol hill about this costing jobs potentially. >> so there's a big question, maybe, let's focus on the power sector, right because that's often what we're talking about when we talk about clean energy jobs. >> yes. >> in the power sector alone, we're going to have to at least quadruple already historic levels of clean energy deployment every year over the next ten years, to even be on a pathway it meet our long-term climate targs, right?
and then ultimately we're all kind of steering towards net zero emissions by 2050. if we get the policies and investment levels right, we will have to manufacture, install, operate, maintain, retrofit an enormous amount of new clean generation, and new energy efficiency technologies, and that will create a huge number of new jobs. their there are different analyses out there, the one that i think is really succinct and powerful is by the rodian group, they estimate that on net, we're looking at every year, again, just in the power sector, 600,000 new jobs created. so that's a big deal. that's a lot of jobs. from the perspective of our coalition, the big challenges in doing that successfully, to hit
that balance, you were talking about, andrew, are three-fold. one ensuring that the jobs are high quality. accessible. and across the full value chain. including in manufacturing. two, targeting investments and the jobs it creates. to communities across the country that need it the most and where that investment and job creation has lagged today. and three ensuring that the workers and communities that have relied economically on fossil energy and that have powered this country for generations are not left behind. as we make this transition. to date, we don't think we've met any of these three challenges particularly well as a country. not enough of the clean energy jobs that have been created are high quality and union, i will talk about that a little bit more if you want to geek out
about the numbers, they have not been created at scale, in some of the communities that need them the most, in parts of the country that need them the most, and the lived experience of workers dislocated from incumbent industries, coal mining, power plants, doesn't need any reasonable standard of fairness and justice. that said, i think with budget reconciliation, we're making some really exciting progress in meeting some of these challenges. so as you know, because you report on it, committees in the house have been marking up reconciliation bills this week and last week, the house ways and means committee has jurisdiction over clean energy tax credits which has been our principle deployment driver federally for clean energy jobs over the last decade, probably will continue to be over the next decade. that committee, in their markup,
extended a full suite of refundable clean energy tax credits, which is essential, but also, and crucially, includes a set of labor and domestic content standards attached to that investment that we think will raise the floor of job quality, of job access, in sectors like wind and solar, and just as importantly, build out the manufacturing supply chains for these technologies in the united states. so we got a lot of work to do. and there are few areas where we're still not hitting the mark. but this embodies sort of why we're so excited about the potential budget reconciliation to move this country in the right direction. not just in terms of meeting our climate goals but in meeting our equity goals as well. >> and can you just briefly address some of the tensions there in some of these
provisions where for example, for the ev tax cdits that is a provision in there, i think for the house bill, with bigger tax incentives, for ex vs that were produced with -- evs that were produced with union labor compared to ones that were not, some car companies are pretty up in arms about that provision saying if you want to incentivize evs, don't punish companies that have a unionized labor force. are there things like that, that you guys encountering and if so, how you are tackling them and we only have a minute and a half left or so, so that is going to be a challenge to address that question, but i'll be quiet now and let you do that. >> yes, you mentioned the ev tax credits, those are historic, and really changed the status quo, and i think appropriately.
again, lift up the floor of job quality, and ensure that we are, as we make this fundamental transition, from, in terms of combustion engines, internal combustion engines to evs that u.s. manufacturers based here and gaining the full benefits of this transition. right now we are far behind china in particular in terms of manufacturing the components that go into electric vehicles. we have to catch up if we're going to make this transition in a way that delivers real benefits. and i think it's absolutely essential. yes there are going to be some auto companies that are going to complain, but we also have auto companies that have expressed support for these provisions. we have the full range of our coalition from environmental partners to labor unions in support of these kind of conditions. and we think we can get it done. >> well, thank you.
thank you for your time, and for your insights. we dive into our wyatt matter segment, where ben and i will touch on key take-aways from our interviews and what we're tracking on the horizon, for the future of clean energy jobs, welcome back, ben. >> hey, andrew, how are you? >> doing all right. doing all right. so i'm curious about the key take-aways from your conversation and sort of how the senator sees things playing out from here. >> yes, absolutely. i mean one thing that really struck, one thing that really struck me was that he very quickly brought up some of these very tragic and widespread extreme weather events that we've been seeing in recent weeks and months, that certainly have a climate signature, or a climate footprint to them, and so that got me thinking that, you know, one thing that's really important to watch is to what extent will these wildfires in california, and the storms and hurricanes in the gulf
coast, and flooding all the way into new york and new jersey, to what extent will that have any political ramifications in terms of creating some more urgency around this legislation, or perhaps even swaying some votes? i mean obviously there are razor thin margins in both chambers. another thing that i thought was interesting was the senators seemed, i can't put words in his mouth but i would say he seemed fairly bullish on the ability to ultimately get the support at the end of the day of senators kyrsten sinema and manchin in the senate and of course in 50/a 50 senate the reconciliation package of the democrats only plan, they can't afford to lose a single vote so those negotiations and probably back channel and in formal talks adven all of those and different senators are going to be really important so he seemed to think there was a light at the end of the tunnel in this very sort of fraught and high profile effort to secure the support of those lawmakers. >> yes, i know, that is interesting, especially given everything that we hear, reading the tea leaves on those two
senators. you know, my conversation with jason walsh of blue green alliance was interesting because they are trying to work, they are a coalition, of environmentalists as well as labor unions, traditionally like those two things have not been wedded in legislation before. and this is very much the center piece of president biden's strategy, you know, when he says, you know, when i think about climate change, i think jobs, he's really thinking, you know, well-paying union jobs, is what he keeps saying. and so that puts groups like the blue green alliance at the center of a lot of this action. and they seem pretty optimistic, about the provisions that are in there, particularly the tax incentives that are in the bill right now, but as you and i were
discussing, actually the other day, you know, some of the provisions, like in the electric vehicles tax incentives, are actually causing some tensions, because you get greater tax incentive if a car manufacturer builds an ev, an electric vehicle with union labor than they would if they built it without so that creates tension between lawmaker, between auto companies that are committed to electric vehicles that just want to do that goal, and car makers who are, you know, doing both, having a unionized work force, and are committed to electric vehicles. might that slow us down in our ev goal if those tax incentives are done in a certain way? and he kind of said, you know, at the end of the day, certain car companies might be
disappointed. but that we really need to make sure that we're creating well-paying jobs. >> definitely. i think the delicacy of that conversation, going on in capitol hill, about how to create those electric vehicle provisions and i'm sure similar complexities are parent in any number of different other clean energy provisions in this legislation, that is something that really makes me wonder about the calendar and the timing of this, right? because you got this effort by democratic leaders to get this done, by the end of september, but we just talked about one provision, of, you know, many, many, many provisions in this bill that is going to require some very careful drafting, very fraught negotiations, and really different interests to try and work with, and appease even sort of within the left more broadly or even within the auto industry more broadly, and so i think that sort of trying to get some type of harmony on these types of pieces, and provisions, within the next, you know, gosh, couple of weeks, is really something that is going to be difficult. i would not be surprised at all,
to see this package drag out well beyond the end of september. >> i wouldn't at all either. and that's what i hear from offices on capitol hill, that the september time line is very much not a realistic goal, but it is a consistent hope that, you know, that they're looking to do. it's just, what we're looking at is just so big at the end of the day, towards trying to move it. i just want to thank you, ben, for joining us, and for having that conversation that you did, with the senator. >> thank you all for joining us this afternoon, for another virtual conversation that has made everyone smarter faster. >> thank you to our sponsor bank of america for making this event possible. for more information or to sign up for energy and climate
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