President Joe Biden will sign a host of climate initiatives on Wednesday, which include ending drilling on federal land and doubling wind energy after he canceled the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The orders will kick off his drive to combat climate change, an issue area young Democratic voters and progressive activists pressed him on during the presidential campaign.
Biden rejected the Green New Deal branding pushed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among others but his measures are certain to be attacked by Republicans as over-reach and he will be accused of putting jobs at risk.
‘We will do everything we can to fight this executive order,’ Mike Sommers, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, told CNN Business. ‘We will pursue every action at our disposal to push back, including legal options, if appropriate.’
But Biden’s initiatives do parallel some of main points of the Green New Deal, mainly tackling climate change while addressing economic and racial injustice.
‘It’s almost as if we helped shape the platform,’ Ocasio-Cortez quipped on Twitter of Biden’s plan. She was part of a task force the merged Biden’s middle of the road policies with the wishes of progressives.
Among the provisions in the executive order is a directive to the secretary of the Interior to pause new oil and natural gas leases on federal lands or offshore waters. It also directs the secretary to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030.
The orders are meant to fulfill Biden’s campaign promise to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and put the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050.
Biden will also direct federal agencies to ‘eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law,’ according to a White House fact sheet.
It’s unclear though which subsidies will be affected as tax breaks are a matter for Congress.
It will also strengthen measures to protect poor and minority neighborhoods from pollution.
And the orders direct the government to conserve 30 percent of all federal land and water by 2030; create a National Climate Task Force to assemble a government-wide action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; establish a White House interagency council on environmental justice; establish a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative ‘to put a new generation of Americans to work’; and make climate change a national security priority.
White House Climate Czar John Kerry and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy argued Biden’s climate plans will result in jobs.
‘It is now cheaper to deal with the crisis of climate than destroy it,’ Kerry said of why the administration was pushing this now as it combats COVID and tries to improve the economy.
He argued there were jobs for workers in the solar and wind energy – positions that could be filled by oil and gas workers who lost their jobs.
‘Unfortunately workers have been fed a false narrative, no surprise, for the last four years’ about the shift to clean energy, Kerry said. ‘They’ve been fed that somehow dealing with climate is coming at their expense. No, it’s not.’
He and McCarthy, who joined Wednesday’s White House press briefing, repeatedly pushed the job message as they advocated for tougher environmental policies.
‘When we say climate change eventually, people are going to think jobs just like President Biden, when he hears the words climate change,’ McCarthy said.
‘In terms of the job issue, we’re explicitly doing this because right now our economy is stagnant,’ she noted.
White House Climate Czar John Kerry and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy argued Biden’s climate plans will result in jobs
President Joe Biden will sign a host of initiatives to combat climate change
Among the order is a directive to the secretary of the Interior to pause new oil and natural gas leases on federal lands or offshore waters
Biden is focusing attention on how the poorest communities are often hardest hit by environmental issues from industry, landfill or climate change
Biden Climate Plan
- Make climate change a national security priority
- Pause new oil and natural gas leases on federal lands or offshore waters
- Double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030
- Direct government to conserve 30% of all federal land and water by 2030
- Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law
- Establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to create jobs
- Create a National Climate Task Force to assemble a government-wide action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council
- President Biden will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22
‘These Executive Orders follow through on President Biden’s promise to take aggressive action to tackle climate change,’ said a White House fact sheet on the orders.
Biden already has taken a series of actions to combat climate change – a dramatic reversal from the policies under former President Donald Trump.
On his first day as president, he signed the papers for the United States to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord after Trump removed the country from the climate agreement.
He also revoked a key cross-border presidential permit needed to finish the controversial Keystone XL pipeline – a move that angered Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and ended the $8 billion pipeline.
Biden also created a climate czar position – adding it to the National Security Council – that is held by John Kerry.
‘It means millions of new jobs in clean energy,’ McCarthy said Wednesday morning of Biden’s plan while on NBC’s ‘Today Show.’ She will run the first ever White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.
Biden will also host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021.
Some Democrats said Biden should do more, including Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who called on the president to declare a national emergency.
‘President Biden should consider the declaration of a national emergency on climate change,’ Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.
‘It would allow President Biden to tap additional resources,’ he pointed out.
Biden created a new position of climate czar, which he appointed John Kerry to
Biden already enacted a series of climate initiatives – including returning the United States to the Paris Climate Accord and ending construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline
Biden stopped short of endorsing the controversial Green New Deal – a set of progressive ideas that called for trillions of dollars in spending on green initiatives and for the elimination of greenhouse gas pollution by 2015.
Instead, he came with his own plan – a more central approach that had some liberals grumbling it wasn’t enough while garnering fire from the oil and gas industry, who complained his plan would result in lost jobs and revenue.
He brought his climate team in the administration, although he did nominate Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Interior Department. She was a co-sponsor of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s Green New Deal.
Biden’s campaign climate plan infuriated the oil industry and became a battle cry in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, where fracking is a major industry. Biden ultimately won the state but Donald Trump repeatedly criticized him on the issue during the campaign in one of his more effective tactics against Biden.
Wednesday’s plan does not ban fracking but does halt any new leases. Federal land accounts for less than a quarter of total U.S. oil production and much less for natural gas.
The top three House Republicans, joined by 17 others, sent a letter to Biden on Tuesday warning him against suspending federal oil and gas auctions.
Taking such a step ‘would be as extreme as it is radical, and it would only further divide the country. It would put Americans with good-paying jobs in the energy industry out of work. And, it would seem to conflict directly with federal law.’