Vice President Kamala Harris claimed that the mega-spending bills backed by the Biden administration are critical to combating climate change – something President Biden himself has warned is the "greatest threat" to America's national security in the coming years.
Harris spoke at Nevada's Lake Mead, which is facing record-low water levels. Federal officials in August declared the first-ever water shortage in the Colorado River, which means Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will receive less water than normal next year amid a gripping Western drought.
And Harris warned that "this is where we're headed."
"Look at where the water has receded over just the last 20 years," she said, referring to the "bathtub ring" of minerals that marks where the reservoir’s water line previously stood. "That space is larger than the height of the Statue of Liberty."
Harris went on to double down on her support for the administration's multitrillion-dollar infrastructure spending package, saying that funding is imperative to taking on climate change.
"The bipartisan infrastructure deal – combined with the ‘Build Back Better’ agenda – is about what we need to do to invest in things like water recycling and reuse, what we can do in terms of water desalination, what we can do in terms of implementation of drought contingency plans," she said.
Democrats, though, are still locked in debate within their own party on the price tag for the $3.5 trillion spending package.
As for the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, Harris pointed toward the "good union jobs" that it could create. The bill passed the Senate and is pending in the House of Representatives for approval.
Harris, in a pitch for the president's spending packages, said their passage would serve future generations "in a way that will not only be about life, but about … beautiful places like Lake Mead."
On climate change, Harris spoke about the Biden administration's proposed Civilian Climate Corps, which officials have argued can create hundreds of thousands of jobs building trails, restoring streams and helping to stop wildfires.
Harris' visit comes after the Biden administration announced an accelerated effort to protect Americans from poloyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can cause severe health problems and remain in the environment once released.
The efforts from the administration are set to help prevent those substances from being released into the air, drinking systems and food supply.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Monday launched the agency's "PFAS Roadmap" – a comprehensive strategy that outlines concrete actions over the next three years to control PFAS at its sources, hold polluters accountable, ensure science-based decision making, and address the impacts on disadvantages communities.
The White House, in outlining the strategy, also said the infrastructure deal and the Build Back Better agenda both include dedicated funding to address PFAS contamination in drinking water, as well as investments for the EPA to conduct monitoring across the country for 29 PFAS compounds in drinking water through the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule program.
Meanwhile, the White House announced last week that Biden will participate in the World Leader Summit in Glasgow on Nov. 1 and 2 at the beginning of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Biden is expected to attend with a number of Cabinet members and senior administration officials, including Regan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, climate adviser Gina McCarthy and climate envoy John Kerry.
Biden last year announced Kerry would serve as the special presidential envoy for climate and would sit on the National Security Council – marking it the first administration with the NSC including an official dedicated to climate change.
Biden and members of his administration have declared climate change a national security threat. Over the summer, Biden warned it would be the "greatest threat" to America’s national security in the coming years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.