President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed strong executive orders to force the federal government to plan for and respond to the urgent threat of a warming planet, outlining his historic vision of how the United States can once again be a global leader. climate.
The moves will stop new leases of fossil fuels on public land, boost the development and conservation of renewable energy, as well as create new government offices and inter-agency groups to prioritize job creation, clean up pollution and environmental justice.
Since taking office last week, Biden and his candidates for the Council of Ministers have repeatedly said that tackling the climate crisis is one of their top priorities. With these new actions, Biden details how he plans this to happen by making the federal government central to the response.
“The United States and the world are facing a deep climate crisis,” the principal said executive order Biden signed said. “We have a tight time to take action at home and abroad to avert the most catastrophic impacts of this crisis and seize the opportunity presented by the fight against climate change.”
Biden’s early climate moves contrast with former President Donald Trump’s actions, which included immediately removing climate change from the White House website, thwarting climate action, and using his executive branch to drive oil development. gas and coal.
Biden’s first climate actions were a direct response to Trump, which included directing his staff to review more than 100 environmental regulations enacted by Trump and start the process so that the country join the Paris climate agreement again. But these new actions go far beyond reversing Trump’s actions or even re-establishing climate initiatives advocated by former President Barack Obama.
“Today it makes it clear that President Biden listens to the demands of our generation loud and clear, understands the power of our movement and cares about using the executive branch to deliver on his campaign promises,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise movement. statement.
As part of a new executive order, Biden is directing the Department of the Interior to pause indefinitely for new leases of oil and gas on public lands and marine waters “as far as possible.” The order does not specifically prohibit new coal leases and leaves leases of fossil fuels to tribal lands at its discretion.
In addition, Biden is leading a review of existing fossil fuel leases and development contracts and asked the Department of the Interior to find ways to boost renewable energy projects, especially offshore wind, in water and land. federally owned.
The American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas trading association, rejected the new restrictions. “Restricting the lease and development of natural gas and oil to federal lands and waters could threaten U.S. energy security, economic growth, and well-paid American jobs.” API tweeted.
While the order would not affect most of the nation’s oil and gas drilling and coal mining, which takes place on private land, it could still have a major climate impact. According to a U.S. geological study, the extraction of fossil fuels from public lands between 2005 and 2014 accounted for approximately 25% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. report.
A key part of the executive orders is the creation of new offices and committees focused on addressing specific climate issues and goals. In addition to formally creating a new White House National Climate Policy Office, directed by Gina McCarthy, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Biden on Wednesday set up a national climate working group that leads members through agencies and departments “to enable a government-wide approach to combating the climate crisis, “according to a White House note.
Biden also creates a Climate Civil Corps initiative designed to create new conservation jobs, an interagency working group on coal communities and power plants, and economic revitalization to take on projects that reduce pollution from existing fossil fuel infrastructure and abandoned, as well as a The White House Interinstitutional Council on Environmental Justice and the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to promote the monitoring and enforcement of environmental justice.
Few details were provided as to who exactly will lead the new efforts, how much funding they will receive, or the timelines for achieving those bold goals.
In most cases, Biden’s actions deliver on the promises of its climate campaign, such as promising to allocate 30% of public land and water to conservation by 2030 and having an international climate summit in its early stages. 100 days: one will be celebrated on Earth Day, April 22, 2021.
“The last four years have been a food frenzy in our public lands and waters, and this moratorium is the right way to start our backward transition to a more sustainable economy,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona and chairman of the House Natural Resources Commission. Grijalva last year sponsored the 2020 Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, which also supports the 30% conservation target. He said Congress will now move forward with the bill.
“Bets on climate change simply could not be higher than they are now,” John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, said at a news conference Wednesday.
“The convening of this summit is essential to ensure that 2021 will be the year that will make up for the lost time of the last four years,” he added, referring to the next climate meeting. “The world will measure us by what we can do here at home.”
Additionally, McCarthy said Wednesday that the U.S. plans to release its updated climate commitment to the Paris climate deal ahead of the April summit.
As part of a separate memorandum on scientific integrity, Biden reinstates dissolved scientific advisory committees under Trump. Separately, it also restarts the president’s Science and Technology Advisory Board.