GOLDEN, Colo. (Reuters) -President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that extreme weather events would cost the United States over $100 billion this year, as he visited Colorado to highlight drought conditions and raging wildfires in the U.S. West.
Colorado was his last stop on a three-state western swing in which he also visited California and Idaho to demonstrate how global warming has scorched the region’s landscape even as states in other parts of the country battle hurricanes and storms that have caused flash floods and killed dozens.
Tropical Storm Nicholas was battering the Texas and Louisiana coasts on Tuesday, flooding streets and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power.
Biden has also used the trip to build support for his administration’s infrastructure spending plans aimed at fighting the growing threat of climate change.
“We have to make the investments that are going to slow our contributions to climate change, today, not tomorrow,” Biden said after touring the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
Recent extreme weather events will “come with more ferocity,” he added.
Biden estimated the economic damage caused by such events this year would come in at more than $100 billion, a day after saying they cost the United States $99 billion last year.
“Even if it’s not in your backyard, you feel the effects,” he said.
During the tour, Biden examined a windmill blade resting on the ground outside the laboratory and also looked at a giant solar battery, saying such batteries would be important in ensuring homeowners have seven days of reserve power.
Biden hopes to tap into voter concerns about the climate to gain popular support for a $3.5 trillion spending plan that is being negotiated in the U.S. Congress.
Republicans oppose the legislation due to its price tag and because taxes would be raised on the wealthy to pay for it.
Democrats who hold narrow majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate are hoping to pass the spending plan with only Democratic votes, a difficult balancing act in chambers rife with competing interests.
Reporting by Steve Holland in Golden, Colorado; Writing by Nandita Bose; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney