Biden announces funding to combat climate change, raises campaign money, during swing through California

President Biden talks with California Gov. Gavin Newsom as they on a bench at an event in Palo Alto.
President Biden talks with California Gov. Gavin Newsom as they visit the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center in Palo Alto, Monday.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

On his first trip to California since announcing his reelection campaign, President Biden on Monday announced $600 million in federal funding to fight the effects of climate change after touring a Northern California nature reserve with Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The financial commitment from the president is expected to only enhance Biden’s strong political support in California and among Americans concerned about the environment, two constituencies critical to the president’s bid for a second term.

A top Biden rival in the 2024 presidential race, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, was also in California during a fundraising tour, and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a Juneteenth celebration in Los Angeles — an indication of the outsize role the state may play in the election.


The Biden administration funding to combat climate change, which will be awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the Inflation Reduction Act, will help coastal and Great Lakes communities susceptible to storm surge, sea level rise and flooding and support innovative solutions to boost climate resilience.

“I’ve toured many sites across the country that clearly show climate change is a genuine existential — the existential threat to humanity,” Biden said as he stood near a salt marsh at the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center in the San Francisco Bay.

The Democratic president touted his administration’s work to fight climate change. Biden highlighted $2.3 billion to modernize the electric grid under the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including $67.4 million to California.

“Throughout our history we’re the only nation in the world that has come out of every crisis we’ve entered stronger than we went into,” Biden said. “We’re doing it again here on the climate crisis.”

The president will appear with Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday as he announces more than $600 million in federal funding for the nation’s power grid and communities affected by climate change.

June 19, 2023

Biden’s visit to California includes a slate of fundraisers hosted by former EBay executive and 2006 gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, among others. Newsom is expected to co-host a fundraiser for Biden in Marin County on Tuesday.

“There’s simply no president in modern American history that’s done more to deliver on the promise of addressing head-on the issue of climate change than President Joe Biden,” Newsom said Monday.


Newsom’s fawning over Biden’s leadership and accomplishments in the White House adds further credence to the California governor’s vows to help the president win reelection in 2024.

The governor for years has tried to douse speculation about his own interest in running for president, stirred both by whispers from those dissatisfied with Biden and, more recently, Newsom’s aggressive national campaign to combat the far-right policies championed in Florida and Texas.

Newsom in March transferred $10 million of his state campaign funds to a new federal political action committee, the Campaign for Democracy, which he said he created to help Democrats in the 2024 election and push back on Republican leaders who “ban books,” “kidnap migrants” and “stoke racism.”

DeSantis, one of Newsom’s top Republican foils, ventured to Sacramento on Monday to raise money for his own presidential campaign and has plans for a fundraiser in Southern California on Tuesday. The Republican’s visit comes amid a public feud with Newsom as California investigates his handling of flights of migrants to Sacramento this month.

Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) attended a private breakfast at the Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento and said DeSantis focused on the “stark contrast” between California and Florida. That included referencing Florida’s record-high budget and California’s current budget deficit, he said. The Florida governor also discussed immigration policy and “our porous border,” he said.

Biden declined to comment on DeSantis when asked Monday.

Democratic lawmakers have agreed on a preliminary state budget, but remain at odds with Gov. Gavin Newsom over his plan to speed up infrastructure construction.

June 12, 2023

The president, however, didn’t shy away from talking about how his administration has helped improve the day-to-day lives of Americans with the $1.2-trillion infrastructure law passed during his first year in office — which is one of his top achievements as president.


“We’re investing in people and places that have been hit the hardest, but who are also on the front lines of moving us forward,” Biden said.

The infrastructure package passed with Republican support and was a prize that eluded Biden’s predecessor and top GOP challenger in 2024, former President Trump. The law will expand broadband internet access and repair aging roads and bridges over the next five years. California is set to receive tens of millions of dollars to increase access to clean drinking water and to mitigate wildfires and other natural disasters.

Meanwhile, Newsom is in the final stages of negotiations with Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento over his own plan to streamline the process of building infrastructure in California. The governor’s office has contended that making it easier to build is critical to the state’s ability to meet its ambitious climate goals.

“The funding in the president’s announcement to improve the power grid and build coastal resilience, when paired with the governor’s infrastructure package, will speed up projects across the state and lay the groundwork for an era of building,” Daniel Villaseñor, a spokesman for Newsom, said in a statement. “And our work last year to streamline permitting for electric transmission means California will put this funding to work and deliver results faster.”

The governor’s office has said the state legislation could reduce project timelines by more than three years in some cases and eliminate bureaucratic hurdles to construct transportation, clean energy and water infrastructure across California.

The changes Newsom has proposed would also make it easier to complete his controversial plan to build an underground tunnel to transport water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Southern California, for example. A main goal of the package is to reduce the opportunity for lengthy delays due to lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, which can sink building projects.


The infrastructure plan is among the last issues Newsom and lawmakers are negotiating in talks about the state budget.

Lawmakers have questioned the need to pass the bills urgently through the budget process instead of through the regular and more deliberative policy process.

In a statement Monday, state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said leaders of the Senate and Assembly continue to work toward a budget deal with the governor.

“While we cannot share the details of these negotiations as they are ongoing, we can confirm that discussions on infrastructure proposals are moving forward,” Atkins’ office said. “We look forward to reaching a final budget agreement.”

Times staff writers Mackenzie Mays and Seema Mehta contributed to this report.