Biden marks Earth Day by going after GOP, announcing $7 billion in federal solar power grants

TRIANGLE, Va. — President Joe Biden marked Earth Day by announcing $7 billion in federal grants for residential solar projects serving more than 900,000 homes in low- and middle-income communities — while criticizing Republicans who want to gut its policies to combat climate change.

The Democrat seeking re-election this year lashed out at supporters of former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement.

The Biden administration also announced plans to expand its New Deal-style American Climate Corps green jobs training program.

The solar grants are awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency, which announced the 60 recipients Monday. The projects are expected to ultimately reduce emissions by the equivalent of 30 million tons of carbon dioxide and save households $350 million a year, according to senior administration officials.

Senior administration officials have said young Americans are heavily invested in Biden’s climate agenda and want to help implement it. The Climate Corps initiative is one way forward, officials said.

Solar power is gaining ground as a key renewable energy source that could reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Not only is it clean, but solar power can also improve the reliability of the power grid.

Forty-nine of the new grants are state-level awards, six are for Native American tribes, and five are multi-state awards. They can be used for investments such as rooftop solar gardens and community solar gardens.

Biden made the announcement about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Washington, in Prince William Forest Park, Virginia. The park was established in 1936 as a summer camp for underprivileged Washington youth, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps to help create jobs during the Great Depression.

“Large-scale community solar energy is our greatest hope for protecting people and our climate from the scourge of fossil fuels,” said Jean Su, director of the Energy Justice program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These targeted investments mean that low-income families get clean energy that is affordable, resilient and protects our ecosystems. It’s great to see President Biden reviving this historic program.

Biden used executive action last year to create the American Climate Corps, modeled after Roosevelt’s New Deal. He announced Monday that nearly 2,000 positions would be offered in 36 states, including jobs offered in partnership with North American building trades unions.

The president has often used Earth Day as a backdrop to promote his administration’s climate initiatives. Last year, he signed an executive order creating the White House Office of Environmental Justice, intended to ensure that poverty, race and ethnic status do not lead to worsening exposure to pollution and environmental damage.

He tried to draw a contrast with Republican congressional leaders, who have called for less regulation of oil production to lower energy prices. Biden officials counter that GOP policies benefit highly profitable oil companies and could ultimately undermine U.S. efforts to compete with the Chinese in the renewable energy sector.

The new rewards come from the Solar for All program, part of the $27 billion “green bank” created as part of a sweeping climate law passed in 2022. The bank is intended to reduce climate and air pollution and to send money to the neighborhoods most in need. , particularly disadvantaged and low-income communities disproportionately affected by climate change.

EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe said she “looks forward to seeing these funds go out into the community, giving people skills, putting them to work in their local communities and allowing people to save on their energy bills so they can put that money toward their projects.” other needs. »

Among those receiving grants are state projects to provide solar-equipped roofs for homes, residence halls and residential community solar projects in West Virginia, a nonprofit solar leasing program in the Mississippi and South Carolina solar workforce training initiatives.

The taxpayer-funded Green Bank has faced Republican opposition and concerns about accountability for how the money is used. The EPA previously disbursed the remaining $20 billion of the bank’s funds to community development and nonprofit banks for clean energy projects such as residential heat pumps, additional efficiency improvements home energy and larger-scale projects like electric vehicle charging stations and community cooling centers.


St. John reported from Detroit.


Alexa St. John is a climate solutions reporter for the Associated Press. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, @alexa_stjohn. Contact her at


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives financial support from several private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropic organizations, a list of supporters, and funded coverage areas at

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