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Bold Presidential Action is Required on Climate Change

Bold Presidential Action is Required on Climate Change

President Joe Biden speaks

The collapse of the Build Back better (BBB) bill provides a significant opportunity to take bold presidential action on climate change. CongressThis may seem like a dead-end. There is another path. Climate advocates and President Joe BidenIf we want to avoid a climate catastrophe, we must follow that path.

Everyone should be aware that Congress has no plans to take transformative climate action. Even if Congress revives the BBB bill, it will be far less ambitious than it is right now in climate policy. It’s not good enough.

The extraordinary power that the president and his administration have over the system of government in the United States is due to the fact that they have it. Even though each of these actions could be challenged in court, and some might even get overturned by the courts, there is legal authority for the Biden administration’s to take the following actions and many more along these lines.

—impose a ban on crude oil exports and gas exports;

—prevent issuance of every permit for every proposed project that would have a negative impact on the climate;

—greatly curtail leasing of oil, gas and coal on federal land, including land that is under water;

—develop a robust market for climate-friendly products, including electric cars and trucks, by changing federal procurement rules for the military and other units of government;

—through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)—an agency that is formally independent but on which Democrats hold a majority—require a radical shift away from electricity generated by fossil fuels to electricity generated by renewables;

—promulgate rules that require that any building developed with federal money is energy efficient and does not use gas.

The climate crisis is real. Things are getting worse. We have to change things.

President Joe Biden speaks
During a signing ceremony, President Joe Biden speaks.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

There are many reasons climate advocates have failed so badly at the national level. However, we have made tremendous progress at the state- and local levels.

Congress, particularly in the SenateBoth the rules, such the filibuster, and the system of representation with two senators per state, regardless of population, are against us. We have been able to defeat, delay and win huge capital-intensive projects with great success. This year, the Keystone XL Pipeline was canceled and the PennEast Pipeline was canceled. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was cancelled last year. The Formosa Plastics factoryThe construction of the, originally scheduled to be completed in St. James Parish (La.), has been delayed and is currently in serious trouble. In Texas, liquefied natural gas export terminals face substantial delays.

One problem we have found in climate advocacy is that traditional environmentalists don’t seem to be the most credible advocates for bold climate action. This is something that everyone seems to be aware of. Traditional environmentalists sometimes struggle to let go of the wheel and allow others to take the lead. They must step in front.

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Many people are concerned about climate change, even if they are not traditional environmentalists. Many of them do amazing work.

This includes retired generals, admirals, and others who better understand the national security implications that climate change has on our nation than anyone. This includes leaders in the clergy such as Pope Francis.

It also includes environmental justice advocates. Many of these advocates have been in hiding for many years. They have at least found some receptive ears among high-ranking officials in Biden’s administration. The Biden administration must now listen to those who are most affected by climate change, and will be most affected in the near future.

Congress may seem like a dead end to transformative climate action. However, there are many other roads and avenues that we can take. Pennsylvania Avenue is the most important. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the most significant address. We need bold action from this address right now.

Larry Shapiro is the Rockefeller Family Fund’s associate director for development of programs.

The views expressed in this article represent the writer’s personal opinions.

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