Biden pushes Gulf of Mexico wind power

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US President Joe Biden says climate change is an emergency but has stopped short of a formal declaration, announcing a modest package of executive actions and promising more aggressive efforts.

Biden made the comments during a visit to Massachusetts and as a historic heat wave batters Europe and the United States.

About 100 million people from New York City to Las Vegas will be under heat warnings this week.

"Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world," Biden said.

"This is an emergency, an emergency, and I will look at it that way."

The announcements included new funding for cooling centres and pushing for new off-shore wind projects in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.

Still, those actions fall short of demands by Democratic lawmakers and environmental activists who want Biden to formally declare a climate emergency, which would enable the use of the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of a wide range of renewable energy products and systems.

Biden is under increasing pressure after moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said last week he was not ready to support key climate provisions in Congress, a critical loss in the evenly divided Senate.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide $US2.3 billion ($A3.3 billion) in funding to help states build cooling centres to deal with excessive heat and to tackle other impacts of climate change, the White House said as it announced the largest ever investment to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program.

New funding could expand flood control, shore up utilities, retrofit buildings, and help low-income families pay for heating and cooling costs.

Biden also announced new support for the domestic offshore wind industry.

The administration has identified 283,280 hectares for possible offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico, the White House said.

Biden spoke from a former coal-fired plant that is playing a role in supporting the state's offshore wind industry as a manufacturing hub for undersea cables.

Biden said more is to come.

"In the coming days, my administration will announce the executive actions we have developed to combat this emergency," Biden said.

Senator Jeff Merkley and eight other Democrats sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday urging him to declare a climate emergency and use aggressive executive actions to limit emissions from fossil fuels produced on public lands and waters and maximise use of electric vehicles.

Biden promised tough action on climate change in his presidential campaign and it remains a key priority for some voters ahead of November 8 mid-terms for control of Congress.

The US president also pledged in international climate negotiations to cut climate emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and reach 100 per cent clean electricity by 2035.

But that climate agenda has been derailed by several major setbacks, including Congress failing to pass crucial climate and clean energy measures in a federal budget bill, record-setting petrol prices and Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupting global energy markets.

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