President Biden promotes clean energy jobs during his shipyard visit to Philly Ship’s crew

By Akayla Gardner and Jordan Fabian (Bloomberg) –

President Joe Biden defended his administration’s clean energy agenda, saying it would help create jobs in the US amid skepticism from union allies.

“Many of my friends in the organized union know that when I think of climate, I think of jobs. I think union jobs,” Biden said at an event Thursday in Philadelphia.

Biden spoke at a steel-cutting ceremony at the Philly shipyard acadia, a ship that Great Lakes Dredge and Dock will use to help build offshore wind farms. The speech was the latest in a series of events Biden has held outside of Washington, D.C. to advance his “Bidenomics” economic agenda and reverse poor approval ratings on the economy ahead of the 2024 election.

Biden said so acadia and wind farms would secure hundreds of jobs and nine different unions would be involved in building the ship. Biden called it “the first American-made, American-owned and American-operated ship of its kind.”

“The clean energy future that we are building across America will be transformative,” he said. “Thousands of families will depend on the good jobs created by these projects and will restore a sense of pride, a sense of hope, a sense of dignity that was lost somewhere along the way.”

Biden reiterates his support for the Jones Act

The President has tried to argue that his signature legislation, which will invest tens of billions in clean energy projects and electric vehicle manufacturing, will create good-paying union jobs. The National Union of Pipe Fitters and Plumbers endorsed Biden’s re-election Wednesday, adding to a long list of working groups that have supported him.

With his campaign-opening rally last month in Philadelphia, Biden demonstrated support for the unions after winning the support of the AFL-CIO coalition and more than a dozen other unions. Biden has described himself as the most pro-union president in U.S. history and is relying on the workforce to provide votes in the Rust Belt states that paved his path to victory in 2020.

But Biden still has some dealings with other big unions who are skeptical about the clean energy transition. The United Auto Workers, a politically influential union, has not yet endorsed Biden amid concerns that the switch to electric vehicles could see its membership dwindle. Biden has hired senior adviser Gene Sperling to work with the union and automakers on upcoming contract negotiations.

Earlier Thursday, former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, released a video appealing for support for the UAW. He accused Biden of waging “war” on the US auto industry and said the president’s push for electric vehicles has cost workers jobs and raised car prices for American consumers.

Addressing a spate of extreme weather events, including dense smoke from Canadian wildfires that worsened air quality in major cities and a brutal heatwave that has hit much of the US with record temperatures, Biden stressed the need to address climate change.

“I don’t hear many climate critics denying the floods, heat waves and wildfires that are affecting so many Americans this week alone,” he said.

Thursday’s event brought Biden back to a city that has become his political stronghold. No city has received more attention from Biden than Philadelphia as he ramps up his travel activities ahead of next year’s election. Thursday marks his sixth visit, a sign of his political importance to Biden’s reelection chances.

Pennsylvania is poised to be a contested state in 2024, like it was in the previous two presidential elections. In 2020, Biden regained the Commonwealth after Trump prevailed there in 2016 — and the electoral call earned Biden enough votes to win the presidency.

–With support from Justin Sink.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

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