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Biden officials head West to tout spending in rural America

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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will be traveling to Arizona to highlight renewable energy development.

News brief: 

The Biden administration is kicking off a barrage of visits to promote federal spending packages like the Inflation Reduction Act – and the rural Mountain West is a big part of the itinerary.

The visits are highlighting projects for public works, clean energy, high-speed internet and more, particularly in smaller communities. In a recent call with reporters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the investments “historic” opportunities.

“I think it's reflective of President Biden's belief that zip code ought not to determine your economic future,” he said.

Vilsack will be in Colorado and Wyoming to discuss efforts to improve conservation and support small agricultural producers. More than $1.5 billion in new spending will go toward “climate-smart” agriculture programs that improve soil health, mitigate carbon emissions and provide new revenue streams for farmers, ranchers and foresters.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is visiting New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming to tout cleanups of abandoned mines and other legacy pollution sites, as well as investments in water infrastructure. One recent round of funding goes toward water rights settlements in tribal communities.

In Arizona, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will promote renewable energy projects. Federal officials said the Inflation Reduction Act will provide new jobs and revenue streams in small towns.

Biden is looking for greater support in rural communities as he seeks reelection in 2024. In a recent poll, seven in 10 Americans said they’ve heard little or nothing about the Inflation Reduction Act since it passed.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.