Kamala Harris Defends Joe Biden's Climate Policies, Says They're Creating More Jobs

Vice President Kamala Harris has defended the Biden administration's environmental policies and argued that the effort to tackle climate change will create jobs.

Harris spoke to West Virginia's WSAZ on Thursday about President Joe Biden's executive order pausing new licenses for oil, gas and coal extraction on federal lands and waters.

The president has faced criticism for the decision with many Republicans claiming his climate policies are a "job killer" that will harm American workers. Harris said the opposite was the case.

"To your point in West Virginia, one in seven families is describing their household as being hungry, one in six can't pay their rent, and one in four small businesses are closing permanently or have already closed, so it's a big issue in West Virginia and across the country," Harris told WSAZ's Amanda Barren.

"And that's why the president and I are offering the American Rescue Plan."

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) is a $1.9 trillion stimulus package designed to deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barren asked Harris about retraining workers in the oil, gas and coal industries who may lose their jobs as the energy sector changes and the administration pauses new extraction.

"All of those skilled workers who are in the coal industry and transferring those skills to what we need to do in terms of dealing with reclaiming abandoned land mines; what we need to do around plugging leaks from oil and gas wells; and, transferring those important skills to the work that has yet to be done that needs to get done," Harris said.

"The president has been very clear that this is not about any existing leases in terms of coal and what we're doing in terms of oil and coal and federal lands. This is about what we need to do going forward to create more jobs," the vice president went on.

"The president feels very strongly that when we are thinking about saving our environment," she said. "When you talk to him about climate change, the first thing that he talks about is job creation."

Harris urged support for ARP which she said was about "opening schools back up in a safe way, it's about getting support for small businesses, getting relief for families. So many people have been unemployed for almost a year at this point."

"The president and I feel very strongly that these are the moments when we are facing a crisis of unbelievable proportion [and] that the American people deserve their leaders to step up and stand up for them," Harris said.

Vice President Kamala Harris
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris participates in a ceremonial swearing-in of Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House complex on January 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Harris has said the Biden administration's climate policies will create jobs. Drew Angerer/Getty Images