Oct. 19 (UPI) — Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday traveled to Nevada to highlight the climate impacts of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
Speaking at Lake Mead, which is quickly shedding water, Harris said that climate change is a “fundamental issue” as she called on lawmakers to pass a sweeping infrastructure bill and a separate social spending bill critical to the president’s agenda.
“When we look at what’s happening here we know this is about this lake but it is about a region and about our nation,” she said. “The infrastructure deal, combined with the Build Back Better Agenda, is about what we need to do to invest in things like water recycling and what we can do in terms of implementation of drought contingency plans. This is about thinking ahead, recognizing where we are and where we’re headed if we don’t address these issues with a sense of urgency.”
Prior to delivering her remarks, Harris took a walking tour of Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir.
Projections released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last month showed that water levels in Lake Mead have a 12% chance of falling to less than 1,000 feet in 2022 due to drought conditions in the region. The probability increases to 22% in 2025 and 2026.
Falling water levels could affect 5.8 million homes and businesses that rely on Lake Powell for hydropower and 25 million people in the West who rely on Lake Mead’s Hoover Dam.
“The Build Back Better agenda will help us tackle the climate crisis with investments in clean energy and electric vehicles, and so we can reduce emissions,” Harris said. “And why do we need to reduce emissions? Because that is part of what is contributing to these drought conditions.”
In August, the federal government declared a water shortage in the Colorado River Basin, which includes Lake Mead, for the first time prompting mandatory water consumption cuts throughout the Southwest.
Harris called on Congress to “get these bills passed,” noting the bills contain provisions that can help to lessen these impacts of climate change.
“It is critical that we, as a nation, understand that we have within our hands — within our possession — the ability to actually change the course of where we’re headed,” she said.