Environmentalists had high expectations for President Joe Biden when he arrived at his office. They hoped that the ambitious campaign rhetoric would translate to an aggressive climate platform.
Biden’s first year in office has been praised by advocates for setting a bold agenda, taking important steps towards undoing Trump-era rollbacks and enacting an all-of-government approach against Trumpism Climate Change.
Margo Oge (ex-director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality and the current chair of International Council on Clean Transportation) said, “President Biden has delivered.”
Others, however, are not enjoying the honeymoon. Some have been frustrated by inconsistencies and broken promises. Biden’s ambitious Build back Better proposal, which would allocate $550 billion to combat climate change, remains ineffective. Purgatory by the Congress.
His most ardent critics claim that he is failing.
“While Biden started the year strong by undoing most Trump’s anticlimate executive orders (including many of Trump’s), Biden has stopped leading and is instead giving us empty promises without delivering on an ambitious climate agenda,” stated Varshini Prakash who is executive director of Sunrise Movement, an advocacy organization that supports political action on climate.
Mixed reviews are indicative of a wider dispute within the environmental community about what constitutes success. Pragmatists view Biden’s climate change initiatives as crucial momentum in what Melinda Pierce, Sierra Club legislative director, calls the “incredibly slow, deliberate pace of administrative rulemaking.” However, progressive groups like Sunrise Movement see it differently. Prakash claims that Biden “refuses to meet the moment that we’re in right at this moment.”
As the Biden administration enters its second year of power, crucial climate change metrics continue to show a dire trend. European scientists Recently concludedThe past seven years have been “by a clear margin” the hottest ever recorded. According to the, America’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by more than 6 percent in 2021. Rhodium GroupGlobal Research Institute
Experts warn that Biden may lose the chance to win a legislative victory this year due to the changing political landscape. According to a recent survey, congressional gridlock is not likely to end. Midterm elections are coming up which could make it more difficult to take bold action. Biden’s approval rating continues to fall. Quinnipiac Poll.
Advocates fear that if Democrats lose control in November’s midterms and the White House in 20,24, the next few weeks may be the last chance for environmentalists of seeing major legislative action for at least a decade.
Biden stated Wednesday that he is still “confident” [the administration]You can get bits and pieces of the Build Back better law signed into law before the midterm elections.
“Now is the time for President Biden to build on and accelerate progress made in their first-year,” stated Abigail Dillen of Earthjustice, an environmental nonprofit.
“Come out swinging!”
Biden’s presence at the White House was a turning point for environmentalists. Ex-President Donald Trump, his predecessor, sought dismantling the federal government’s ability to address climate changes and took a series o executive actions in accordance with that philosophy. This included removing the U.S.A from the Paris Climate Accord. Biden reversedHis first day in office.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency also took steps under Obama to loosen emissions standards — another measure Biden has since reversed.
Pierce said, “We were very excited for President Biden – who ran on what was probably the most aggressive and ambitious Climate Agenda ever — to come out swinging.” “The scope and breadth of his work was extraordinary.
Biden made it clear that he would prioritize climate issues before stepping foot in the Oval Office. Biden pledged to make the U.S. government completely carbon neutral by 2050. He also placed fighting climate change among his top priorities, along with strengthening the economy and ending the coronavirus epidemic.
Biden’s transition process was complicated by the emphasis placed on climate. An ex-member of Biden’s intelligence transition team said to ABC News that their mandate was for resources to be directed towards combatting “the 3 C’s”: COVID-19 and China.
Chase Huntley (Vice President of Strategy at the non-profit Wilderness Society) stated that climate science requires a whole of government’ approach to pursue every opportunity.
Biden made several organizational and bureaucratic changes to shift away from Trump’s policies once he was in office. He established the White House Climate Policy Office, which coordinated an administration-wide response against climate change. Environmental Justice Advisory CouncilTo ensure that at least 40% are given to communities most affected by pollution.
The executive actions followed, which environmentalists praised for their radical reversal Trump’s rollbacks. A Washington PostAnalysis showed that Biden targeted half the Trump era’s environmental and energy executive actions. A White House spokesperson highlighted Biden’s efforts to restore U.S. climate leadership abroad, jump-start electric vehicle development, and accelerate clean energy initiatives.
His climate victories in the early days of the Biden administration have been marred by setbacks.
Two steps forward, two back
Experts say that the Biden administration made significant progress in climate issues such as fossil fuel extraction and emissions standards. However, environmentalists point out inconsistencies. They see actions from the administration which seem to contradict the president’s promises.
Environmentalists praised the administration for its use of federal lands, and water, and the Department of Interior had to suspend controversial. Program for oil and gas leasingIn the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in summer 2021. The White House was also present last week. Announced plansIt will open large swathes New York and New Jersey’s coastal waters to renewable wind infrastructure. Experts predict that this will eventually produce enough electricity to power two million homes.
However, these developments were overshadowed somewhat by the Biden administration. Auctioning offHuntley says that the decision to allow oil drilling in large swathes of federal waters in Gulf of Mexico will “perpetuate and not reduce climate pollution from public lands”
During his presidential campaign Biden pledged to stop federal drilling. And just days before the November lease sale, he encouraged all nations at the Glasgow COP26 Climate Conference, to “do their part” to address the climate crisis.
Kristen Monsell (a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity) stated, “It’s difficult to imagine a safer, more hypocritical action in response to the climate summit.”
Administration officials justified the decision not to sell the lease by citing a court order. However, environmentalists claimed that they were not under any such obligation. Environmental groups filed a legal petition requesting that the administration cease production of oil and gas on public lands by 2035. The Department of Interior didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment.
Vehicle emissions have also been a source of contention. Biden’s EPA Recently, proposedThis is the most severe limit on pollution from cars and light truck in history. It mandates higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles beginning in 2023. Experts welcomed the move and assessed its significance.
Oge said, “Given that transportation was the number-one contributor of greenhouse gases in the U.S.A, that was a pretty significant deal.”
Biden, however, refused to sign a multi-country pledge to take similar steps to reduce pollution from buses and large trucks. These are the most polluting vehicles on the roads. 15 countries signed a commitment to make all new commercial trucks electrified by 2040 following the COP26 summit. The U.S. wasn’t one of them.
Oge stated, “I was disappointed.” “But it doesn’t mean that the administration cannot still take steps to reduce these emissions.”
The administration won praise from activists for its intervention to stop the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Abigail Dillen from Earthjustice points out, however, that the organization failed to take any action against the Line 3 pipeline, which, “from the climate standpoint, [is]Dillen added that the same could be said for Dillen.
Dillen stated, “The Biden administration has clear authority for taking back the Line 3 permit.” “The only difference between these two pipelines seems to be a political calculation. It was not surprising that the Keystone decision received some criticism from the Biden administration.”
Many environmentalists believe that the Biden administration has tried to use its executive power sparingly — enough to strengthen major climate priorities but not enough to delay moderate legislators whose votes are needed to pass Build Back Better.
Despite these apparent contradictions, Biden’s political allies are still in his corner, especially when his environmental record is compared to Trump’s. However they say that they look forward to more progress in the next year.
“Compared to Trump’s administration, the Biden administration did a good job,” stated Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “But we must hold our government accountable to a higher standard then President Trump and his cronies, if we are to take on climate change seriously.”
Hope and headwinds
Even though Biden faces political headwinds, environmentalists and industry leaders see the next few months as critical to Biden’s climate legacy. Given their progress and promises to date, many seem to be willing to be patient with Biden’s team and point out several areas where Biden could make a difference.
Advocates believe the administration can take additional executive action, such as encouraging federal agencies like the Pentagon to use electric vehicles for their fleets. Oge stated that the EPA could propose tighter greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2027 for heavy-duty cars. Oge also said that she hopes to see “strong and ambitious requirements” for electric buses and delivery vans.
Huntley stated that “Looking forward, this administration should be turning all of the knobs as far they can, for climate sake,” Huntley said.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in February in a case brought forward by Republican-led states. The case concerns a case that could limit the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emission standards.
Biden’s signature Build back Better plan is the most important issue. Experts believe it will be a huge package that will either make or break Biden’s environmental ambitions. The plan is opposed by all congressional Republicans. They are concerned about the $1.7 trillion price tag and the impact it will have on the national debt. A pair of moderate Democrats, Joe Manchin, and Kyrsten Sinema, support a reduced version of the bill.
The White House however indicated this week that they will continue to push forward, even though other legislative priorities are taking center stage.
Melinda Pierce from the Sierra Club stated that while there is much one can do under executive order, a significant portion of the investments needed to combat climate change have to be made by Congress. “When you compare what was done in Year 1, it is clear that the legislative piece must be completed.”