'We've Got To Get Real About What’s Going On'By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – President Joe Biden used a Colorado wind farm as a backdrop Tuesday to pitch his $3.5 trillion budget bill that includes sweeping changes to address climate change. After touring the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Wind Technology Center in Arvada, the president said our nation is blinking “code red” on the need to combat climate change.

“The climate change is current today not next year ten years from now and have make investments to slow today not tomorrow something that caused by humans solved by humans.”

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Biden says renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels, and the provisions in his budget bill would create thousands of jobs and save billions of dollars.

“We face a crisis with unprecedented opportunity to create good jobs, to create industries of future, to save the planet,” he said.

If the bill passes, it would be the biggest shift yet away from fossil fuels and toward renewables. It would impact everyone from utilities and auto makers to unions and the energy sector.

The president pointed to wildfires and floods, drought and record heat and said extreme weather events will cost the country more than $100 billion this year alone.

“Look, we’ve got to get real about what’s going on. I mean, think about it. The only debate is around what we do to confront this crisis, and that shouldn’t even be a debate.”

Critics say his words are at odds with his action. Just last month, the White House called on OPEC to boost oil production amid concerns about rising gas prices and inflation.

Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Weld County says the budget bill would make the U.S. even more reliant on foreign energy.

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“If he wants visit with people of Colorado, he should talk to the consumers who are paying more at pump right now, and I don’t understand why he’s asking OPEC to increase production while he and his liberal friends are hurting production and reducing production in U.S.”

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association fired off a letter to Colorado’s U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper urging them to oppose billions of dollars in new fees in the budget bill, including a fee on methane production and a fee on imports from countries that don’t regulate greenhouse gases.

The centerpiece of the bill is a system of penalties and incentives for utilities to replace coal and gas fired power plants with renewable power sources.

Xcel Energy says its grid will be 80% renewable by 2030, but Dan Haley, CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, says the technology doesn’t exist for an all-renewable power grid.

“We don’t want to be California. We’ve seen what happens when a state says fossil fuels, oil and gas are the bad guy. They rely too heavily on renewables and suddenly their grid doesn’t work, and now they’re importing foreign oil as well,” said Haley.

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Biden says the country can and must reach 100% carbon-free power by 2035.

“We can do this all in a way that creates good jobs,” he said. “Drought or a fire doesn’t see property line. It doesn’t give damn what party you belong to.”

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Democrats are using a procedure called reconciliation to pass the budget bill with 50 votes instead of the 60 vote threshold required for most bills. With no Republicans supporting it, the House can’t lose more than three Democrats, and the Senate needs every Democrat for passage.

Shaun Boyd