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U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Lasse Johannes Petterson

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Lasse Johannes Petterson, CEO of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock (GLDD) and Steinar Nerbovik, CEO of Philadelphia Shipyard, Inc. (PSI) during a tour of Philly Shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., July 20, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

President Biden Touts Clean Energy Jobs During Philly Shipyard Visit

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July 20, 2023

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 in the face of skepticism from union allies.

“A lot of my friends in organized labor know when I think climate, I think jobs. I think union jobs,” said Biden at an event Thursday in Philadelphia. 

Biden spoke at the Philly shipyard at a steel-cutting ceremony for the Acadia, a vessel which 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 Washington, DC, to plug his “Bidenomics” economic agenda and reverse poor approval ratings on the economy ahead of the 2024 election.

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Biden said the Acadia and wind farms would support hundreds of jobs, and that nine different labor unions would be involved in building the vessel. Biden hailed it as “the first vessel of its kind, that’s made in America, American owned, American operated.”

“The clean energy future we’re building all across America will be transformational,” he said. “Thousands of families will rely on good jobs these projects create, restoring a sense of pride, a sense of hope, a sense of dignity that got lost somewhere along the way.”

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The president has sought to make the case that his signature laws, which will invest tens of billions in clean energy projects and electric vehicle manufacturing, will deliver high-paying union jobs. The nation’s pipe fitting and plumbers union endorsed Biden’s reelection Wednesday, adding to a long list of labor groups that have backed him.

Biden put on a show of support from organized labor with his campaign kickoff rally last month in Philadelphia, after receiving the endorsement of the AFL-CIO coalition and more than a dozen other unions. Biden has called himself the most pro-union president in US history and is relying on labor to help deliver votes in Rust Belt states that formed his path to victory in 2020.

But Biden has some work to do with other big unions that are skeptical of the clean-energy transition. The United Auto Workers, a politically influential union, has yet to endorse Biden amid concerns the move to electric vehicles could shrink its membership. Biden has tapped senior adviser Gene Sperling to liaise with the union and automakers in upcoming contract talks. 

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

Biden addressed a spate of extreme weather events, including thick smoke from Canadian wildfires that lowered air quality in major cities and a brutal heat wave that has left much of the US facing record temperatures, saying they highlighted the need to address climate change.

“I don’t hear many naysayers on climate denying the floods, heat waves, wildfires impacting so many Americans, just this week alone,” he said.

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

Pennsylvania is poised to be a battleground state in 2024, as it was in the prior two presidential contests. In 2020, Biden won the commonwealth back after Trump prevailed there in 2016 — and the race call delivered Biden enough electoral votes to win the presidency.

–With assistance from Justin Sink.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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