What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Two mayors offer starkly different views on Biden’s climate policies

As President Biden moves to address the issue of climate change, the task of combating the global crisis often starts with local leadership taking charge. Midland, Texas Mayor Patrick Payton and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mayor William Peduto join Judy Woodruff to discuss their views on Biden's climate and energy policies.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In many cases, the task of combating the global climate crisis starts at home, with local leaders taking charge.

    I'm joined now by two mayors to discuss President Biden's changes to climate and energy policies.

    They are Patrick Payton. He is the mayor of Midland, Texas. And William Peduto, he is the mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    It's very good to have both of you joining us. Thank you so much.

    Mayor Payton, I'm going to start with you, but I will ask you both the same question. Overall, what is your reaction to what the Biden administration is rolling out on climate change?

  • Patrick Payton:

    Well, thank you very much. It's good to be here with you.

    And hello to the mayor from Pittsburgh. And sorry about your Steelers.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Patrick Payton:

    But, really, we're kind of used to this.

    Over the last 12 to 16 years, we have watched executive orders be traded back and forth. And — but here in the Permian Basin, well over 200,000 people are going to get up tomorrow and they're going to work in the oil and gas industry, as well as the wind and solar industry, because, out here, we realize that it's really going to be all of the above as we move forward into the 21st century.

    So, while China will burn more coal today than the rest of the civilized world, we out here know what it takes to build a robust energy economy, what it's going to take to create those jobs. We're already doing that in the wind and solar environment.

    We also know that, for us to have the power grid we're going to have for you to plug in your electric vehicle and get it charged, it's going to take the oil and gas industry.

    So, in listening to Ms. McCarthy, I'm hoping that they really do mean we are going to have a long, inclusive conversation in this and stop demonizing the oil and gas industry, who is going to have to be the backbone of building towards an energy future.

    So, we will see. I'm skeptical on all sides, just because we have seen this executive order thing happen through the Obama administration, through the Trump administration, and now through the Biden administration, but we still see no legislative work forward.

    And I think part of that is because legislators know it's going to require an all-in effort, and not a demonization effort of either side. So, we will see if we can move forward with a wholehearted discussion covering all the issues, and no longer demonizing the industry that makes it possible for you to carry your Nalgene bottle and wear your Patagonia clothes while, at the same time, you can drive your electric vehicle.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Mayor Peduto, Pittsburgh — and, as I pose this question to you, I'm thinking of what President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz said at times, you know, it should be all about not Paris, but Pittsburgh, and a reference to the Paris climate accord, which, of course, this administration has rejoined.

    But what is your overall take on what the administration is saying it will do?

  • Bill Peduto:

    We have been working together in the Northern Appalachia region and within the Ohio Valley, mayors from eight cities who have joined together from West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, to present an American Marshall Plan, a plan that would invest in the areas that will be the hardest-hit from the inevitable transformation into renewable energy and green technology.

    The world is going in one direction. And I think the Biden administration today recognizes that. And the question is, do we want to be in a position in the future, when we electrify our public transit fleets around the country, that the only option available to us is to buy buses from China, when we could be building them in Lordstown and helping the people of Youngstown?

    Should we be being our wind turbines from Germany, when they could be manufactured with United States steel right here in Pennsylvania and assembled in West Virginia? Or should we be…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, let me interrupt you and say, are you saying you fear that the Biden administration is not paying sufficient attention to buying American, building American?

  • Bill Peduto:

    No, quite the opposite.

    I think that, in the initiatives that they announced yesterday on buy American initiatives and that they're presenting 40 percent of this plan into areas that have been left behind in the changing economy, that they're cognizant that we can't just change by throwing a light switch, which would leave areas behind, but we have to invest in those areas, so that they have an opportunity to catch up with the rest of the United States.

    I think the Biden plan is a pragmatic and progressive approach to be able to address the inevitable change in economics and in the delivery of energy, and allowing the United States to compete in the 21st century, and not follow.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And back to you, Mayor Payton, in Midland, Texas.

    I heard you saying you hope the Biden administration means what it says. How will you judge that? And how will you reach out to them? Do you feel they will listen to you as you make the case for your community, for your economy, for the livelihood of your people?

  • Patrick Payton:

    Well, as you have noticed throughout this country over the last several years, we talk in extremes, and we don't moderate the middle path, where we can have a discussion of all of the above.

    The fact of the matter is, we're being left behind by China, because, as I said a minute ago, China will burn more coal today than the rest of the civilized world.

    And so, until we get to a place where we are going to recognize that the oil and gas industry is the backbone of powering this country, that we can also together move forward with the oil and gas industry that provides the byproducts that provide for the electric vehicles, that provide for the buses that were just mentioned, that drive the factories that are going to produce the steel, when we're ready to just sit down and have that conversation and the political environment doesn't demonize the oil and gas industry or demonize an entire region made up of over 200,000 people who will wake up tomorrow morning.

    And they will go to their jobs in the oil and gas sector and in the wind and solar sector, producing the cheap, reliable and abundant energy, then we will see if they're going to have that conversation, because, as Mr. McCarthy said, it's not going to happen in two years or two weeks. It's not going to happen in four years.

    It's going to be a 20-to-30-year transition, but it will not happen without the oil and gas industry.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I hear you, but just quickly, are you saying you think the Biden administration is demonizing the oil and gas industry? Or do you believe they're open to hearing your arguments and the arguments of your people?

  • Patrick Payton:

    I think the Democrat left has demonized the oil and gas industry from the far extreme left side.

    So, we will see if Mr. Biden in his conversation of unity and having conversations also that Ms. McCarthy mentioned just a minute ago really that mean that. And that's going to take both sides to get their radical sides out of the debate and get into the middle and have this discussion, because, for the longest time, the oil and gas industry has been demonized.

    And so we will see if they mean to bring everybody into the fold and have that conversation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Mayor Peduto, in just a few seconds, what do you say in response to that? Where do you think the administration will come down on that?

  • Bill Peduto:

    I do believe that they will be pragmatic. They have an understanding of the workers and a compassion to making sure that there's a just transition.

    Look, Pittsburgh is where oil was discovered at the Drake Well just north of our city. Coal was discovered along the shores of our Monongahela River. We sit at one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world.

    And yet there's more jobs in green and renewable energy than oil, gas, and coal combined, combined.

  • Patrick Payton:

    That's not true…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Bill Peduto:

    The future is here.

    No, I'm talking about Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, our numbers are now even higher than Philadelphia.

  • Patrick Payton:

    And that's why the Permian Basin…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Mayor Peduto, Mayor Payton, we thank you both so much.

  • Bill Peduto:

    Thank you.

  • Patrick Payton:

    Thank you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Sorry to leave it there. We appreciate you both.

    Thank you.

Listen to this Segment