Joe Biden goes green

For Earth Day, the vice president announces new funding for clean buses.

Published April 22, 2009 2:48PM (EDT)

NEW CARROLTON, Md. -- Being so close to a train and not boarding it must have been killing Joe Biden.

The vice president came to this D.C. suburb this morning to announce a $300 million Earth Day grant program to help local mass transit agencies build more clean fuel infrastructure for "green" buses. Less than a mile from the Washington Metro bus depot where he spoke, Biden's beloved Amtrak trains came and went along the Northeast Corridor. (The "Biden loves trains" message has been so well imprinted on my brain over the years that I actually went to the Amtrak station first out of habit, before realizing the event was up the road.) Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, introducing Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley -- who, in turn, would introduce Biden -- even mentioned the train station, saying Biden had passed it often on his way from Wilmington, Del., to Washington over the years.

The main Earth Day show today is President Obama's trip to Newton, Iowa, where he'll talk about alternative energy. But Biden got into the act as well. "There's a political cliché that says, 'We're trying to change the world,' but in its most literal sense, that's what this administration is trying to do," he said, pointing to the administration's focus on energy efficiency in the stimulus package and the budget.

The bus maintenance facility had a faint scent of diesel fuel in the air -- presumably, some sort of greener diesel fuel -- and the fluorescent lighting and cavernous space didn't make for the most glamorous event. Biden was surrounded by fuel-efficient buses from Washington's Metro, Howard County, Md.'s, Howard Transit and the Maryland Transit Administration, which runs Baltimore's public transportation.

"You cannot export your job to China," Biden told the crowd of transit workers. "You're driving a bus here. You're maintaining a bus here. You ain't doing it in [some Chinese] province. You're doing it here." (It sounded like he said "Musi province," but the CIA doesn't seem to think such a province exists.)

Once the event ended, of course, Biden hopped back in a motorcade of nearly a dozen vehicles to make a drive back to the White House along a route that Metro's Blue Line follows. But hey -- you've got to start somewhere.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

MORE FROM Mike Madden

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Joe Biden War Room