Detroit Today

Latino Press interviews Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor

by Paula Anderanin

Our team interviews the White House National Climate Advisor, Gina McCarthy to discuss the new plans from the Biden Administration and Joe Biden’s recent trip to Michigan.

Anderanin: The new administration has announced that clean energy is a key item to address in their agenda. We had our Joe Biden visiting today, Michigan, talking about infrastructure, and we wanted to find out a little bit more about what were the key areas that are planning for the long term and short term and how will that affect Michigan as well?

McCarthy: Well, what’s exciting, Paula, is today that President Biden is in Dearborn, Michigan, and he’s actually visiting the Ford Electric Vehicle Center there to drive, I hope to drive if the Secret Service lets him at least see the new F150 electric truck, which is pretty amazing and to answer to your question, Paula. This is the future. This is what we’re looking at. We’re looking at a future of new technologies that we want the United States to embrace. And we want that future to be built by union workers, people who get good-paying union jobs so they can feel like someday they can buy a home, they will be able to put food on the kid’s table. So many people have been suffering during this pandemic that President Biden feels that his job is to restart this economy and do it in the best way possible for the people who live in the United States, so we don’t just want electric vehicles, we want consumers to be able to afford them and buy them, we’re going to be building an infrastructure for those charging stations. We’re going to be looking at how we give low-interest loans and tax credits and consumer rebates. So we grab back the supply chain from others. This Ford F-150 electric vehicle is going to be built by pods that were actually built in 20 different states across the United States and put together by United Auto Workers. This is what Joe Biden thinks of as success. This is what his American jobs plan is all about. And certainly, transportation is one area in which he’s investing, but there are many more like he’s going to be building out a transmission system so that everybody can have access to renewable energy. He’s going to focus on investing in water and wastewater facilities so that everybody can have clean water to drink, including getting those damn lead pipes out of the system so our kids can be healthy and have the future that they were born to have. So we are talking about two trillion dollars of investment in new manufacturing, new infrastructure, broadband access so that everybody can have the high-speed access available to them, which you need now. You know that there is there are opportunities for lots of people to be put back to work in good-paying union jobs and lots of opportunities for us to grow new businesses and basically invest in our country again, which is the most exciting part of the whole thing.

Anderanin: And you mentioned jobs. So obviously that’s going to create new jobs. So what is the plan to put the correct people in those key positions to be able to lead this effort in every level? And also, how about training? Like, how is that going to be rolled out to get people ready for those jobs?

McCarthy: Yeah, probably. You’re asking a really important question, because what the president put me in charge of here is what he calls a whole of government approach. So we are actually working across every federal agency and we’re working with states and cities that have done some terrific work so that every level we’re supporting one another and developing public-private partnerships because we need everybody in the United States to see a future and go for it because we need to win that future. And in the American jobs plan doesn’t just say let’s give out low-interest loans or grants to everybody. It says if you want to pay and you want union jobs, come on in and we’ll do some business with you. So we are looking at making sure that we’re investing in really good union jobs, that people are going to get paid prevailing wage, that we’re going to lift every community and talk to the workers that have been left behind in the job transition. And we’re going to be working with the unions to train them, to give them apprenticeship opportunities. This should not be something an effort that leaves any community or any worker behind, because as you and I know, Paula, we’ve been struggling with this pandemic. It seems it feels like forever. And this president was right out of the gate with the American rescue plan to get his arms around that challenge and to get us moving again. So now his job is to make sure that the values we all hold dear, the pride we take in having a good job, the need for people to have a good roof over their head, a home they can be proud of, ways to get around, like new investments in transit, like getting those dirty school busses off the road, like investing in our schools again, investing in our care economy. This is how this president is going to lead our country to the benefit of people, not politicians. And so we just couldn’t be more excited about the package, the American jobs plan that he’s put together. And I think everybody is going to have to join and try to fight for this because he’s fighting for each one of us. And we need to make sure that we have the tools available to really rebuild our economy again and pointed so that we’re winning the future. That’s what this is all about.

Anderanin: Talking about local stuff as well. So Detroit is one of the worst cities with pollution. So what are the plans of revisiting these cities that have issues like Detroit and how can we roll out a plan that will help clean the cities.

McCarthy: Well, you’re absolutely right. Detroit has had its challenges and as most cities do. I think one of the big efforts that the president has articulated is a couple of things. And let me explain. One is that he told us before we even started this administration, that he was going to invest in this clean energy future so that we could clean our air and have safer and healthier places and address the challenge of climate change, which is what what I advise the president on. But he said we’re going to do it by making sure that we have clean energy, a clean power sector in 2035, and that we’re going to invest in a new clean transportation sector, which is what he’s highlighting today. But he also said that we need to make sure that the communities that haven’t been invested in for many years, Detroit was left with literally all this investment in manufacturing and not the significant investment that it needed those communities. He has pledged to ensure that they have 40 percent of the benefits from all of these investments that go to those hard of those environmental justice communities that have been disinvested in or not invested in for decades. So this president is not just going to make sure that we have good jobs, but he knows where he wants those jobs. He knows where they deserve to have cleaner air. He’s developed some programs in here, like one in particular that I find most interesting. One is actually converting two million homes to become more efficient, which means they’re going to be healthier places and less expensive to live in. But he also has one that’s about reconnecting communities. You and I know about neighborhoods of communities that have been dissected by the industries that they live near, by roads that cut through. He’s looking for creative ways of rebuilding those communities and connecting them again. So a lot of this is all about making sure that we think big, but we act at the community level and listen to those communities about how they want to rebuild themselves. So this is not directed at what the federal government thinks is important. It’s going to be directed at what each community wants to see so they know that their needs are being met, their interest in their own community are being fulfilled. This is a little different and it’s going to be challenging. But this is about a lot of opportunity for us to go community by community, city to city, to find out what are the challenges that people are facing and how do these dollars go to meet that challenge and win the future for every community. And that future should be defined by what that community envisions for itself.

Anderanin: So, would that also be a way to being able to get some results faster instead of going through such a divided Senate that we currently have?

McCarthy: There’s no question that the president is right now in bipartisan conversations with Republicans and Democrats to try to see where the common ground can be forged and invested in. But he has already made it very clear that these are purposeful investments that he’s put on the table. He thinks the time is now for a once-in-a-generation investment in the United States. And I think many people from Detroit and other cities will agree that if there ever was a time to really invest in our future, that time is now. And the president is not going to see any of these efforts fail to be the shape and the size and the immediacy that he has put on the table, because the time is now and we have to invest big in ourselves again.

Anderanin: Yeah, definitely. And I know you really have worked into improving overall climate change policies, etc. And I know a lot of those were reversed in the last administration. Are they any of the ones that are very critical that you want try to bring back to establish a norm?

McCarthy: We will actually, will be. We’ll be making sure that effort to sort of not follow science, get off the books because we know we need an evidence-based decision. We’re going to make sure that we bring back things like standards for clean air and that means we’re going to be regulating our utility sector to make sure that renewable energy and it can be invested in and we have a grid that can support it. Not like what happened in Texas, but one that is resilient enough so that you won’t be left out in the cold. We’re going to be investing as we showing in Detroit and in Dearborn today, that we can build clean cars, we can grab the electric vehicle manufacturing sector. We’re going to be investing in our manufacturing sector, period, because I want the steel in those cars to be actually made right here in America. I want the pods to be made here. So we will be looking at significant investments in our workers and our manufacturing will be providing opportunities for consumers to have opportunities for low-interest loans and other leveraging opportunities so they can bounce back from this pandemic and have a place for themselves that’s comfortable and they can live in. So we’re looking at all kinds of opportunities to put not just put America back to work, but put us back to work and good-paying union jobs and in places that we know will have schools that you can rely on, care opportunities at home for folks that need that care. So we’re really trying to rebuild the fabric that our communities were built on before and make that stronger and more sure than it’s ever been.

Anderanin: Well, Gina, I really appreciate your time and explaining all the plans for the future. It’s very exciting to see progressive administration looking to do the best possible things for the environment and obviously all of us. So thank you so much for your time today.

McCarthy: Paula, thanks for everything you do as well. And thanks for having me.

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