US President Joe Biden signed several executive actions linked to the climate crisis on Wednesday. Among them is one that orders the Secretary of the Interior to pause signing new leases for the extraction of oil and natural gas on public lands or offshore waters.
Biden and other administration officials have emphasized that the White House is taking a “whole of government” approach to addressing climate change. They have also stressed that they believe the president’s actions will help stimulate job growth. And they have classified people who work in industries vulnerable to job loss, such as coal miners, under their environmental justice umbrella.
‘Today is weather day’
“Today is White House Weather Day, which means today is White House Employment Day. We are talking about American innovation, American products, American workmanship, ”Biden said at the beginning of his remarks at the signing ceremony. He added: “We are talking about the health of our families and cleaner water, cleaner air and cleaner communities. We are talking about national security.
And he continued: «It is a future of enormous hope and opportunities. It is about getting to the moment of tackling this greatest threat now ahead, climate change, with a greater sense of urgency. In my opinion, we have already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can not wait any longer”.
The leasing decree directs the interior secretary to launch a “rigorous review” of existing leasing and permitting programs related to fossil fuel development. In addition, it asks you to identify the steps necessary to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House.
Suspending new leases fulfills a Biden campaign promise. The decision extends a 60-day moratorium issued by the president on his first day in office. Biden’s climate actions mark a sharp change from the Trump administration’s efforts to maximize fossil fuel production and expand oil and gas drilling on federal lands. The administration’s climate emissaries emphasized that they hope to generate new job opportunities from the changes.
The position on the fracking
During the signing ceremony, Biden said his administration “is not going to prohibit hydraulic fracturing (fracking) ». “We will protect jobs and increase jobs, including through stricter rules, such as methane leak controls and unionized workers willing to implement the changes,” he added.
In the election campaign, Biden explicitly opposed a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing o fracking. He also said that he supports the use of fracking to open up underground natural gas formations to “transition” to cleaner types of energy.
White House climate coordinator Gina McCarthy described the decree as one that “directs everyone who works for the president to use all the tools available to us to resolve the climate crisis. Because we’re going to take a whole-of-government approach. ‘
The question of employment
“We are going to power our economy with clean energy,” added McCarthy. “We’re going to do that in a way that will create millions of American jobs that will be well paying, that will be jobs where workers will have the opportunity to join a union because, as President Biden has so often told us, when you think about change climate, the first thing you think about is jobs, “he added.
John Kerry, the new presidential envoy for climate, addressed how workers in the coal and fossil fuel industries who may face health risks on the job have the opportunity to transition to less risky alternative energy jobs. He said they “have been fed a false narrative” that “somehow dealing with the weather is done at their expense. No. It is not like that. “What is happening to them is happening because of other market forces,” he added.
Biden is committed to a global approach in the fight against the climate crisis
Biden has an ambitious plan against climate changeKerry told reporters that Biden is taking these actions because the United States needs to address climate change on a global scale.
“(Biden) knows that (the Paris climate agreement) alone is not enough,” said Kerry. “Not when almost 90% of all global emissions on the planet come from outside the borders of the United States. We could get to zero tomorrow and the problem would be solved. That’s why today, one week after taking office, President Biden will sign this set of additional decrees to help us move forward along the way, ensuring that ambitious climate action is global in scope and scale as well as national, right here at home. ”
On Wednesday, Biden also stated that the climate crisis is an “essential element of US foreign policy and national security.” The decree instructs the director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, to prepare a national intelligence estimate on the security implications of the climate crisis. It also asks all agencies to develop strategies to integrate climate considerations into their international work.
Biden also re-established the President’s Science and Technology Advisory Council and will form the National Climate Task Force. It will be made up of leaders from 21 federal agencies and departments.
Biden will host a Climate Leaders Summit on Earth Day, April 22. In addition, the United States will reconvene the Forum of the Great Economies. McCarthy said the United States would announce its so-called Nationally Determined Contribution, required in the Paris climate accord to which Biden rejoined, ahead of the leaders’ summit scheduled for Earth Day.
Protect land and water
The decree officially creates the White House Office of National Climate Policy, which will be led by McCarthy. He previously headed the Environmental Protection Agency. It also creates an interagency environmental justice council at the White House and an environmental justice advisory council at the White House to prioritize environmental justice.
Biden will also take steps to protect 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030. A 2018 study by the Center for American Progress, a liberal activist organization based in Washington, found that only 12% of the land of the country has been preserved. This figure includes national parks and national wildlife refuges.
The president will establish a Civilian Climate Corps initiative to employ Americans in jobs that include restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation and protecting biodiversity.
He also created an interagency task force on the coal and power plant and coal communities and economic revitalization. It will be co-chaired by McCarthy and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. The group will direct federal agencies to help the coal, oil and natural gas and power plant communities.
John Kerry’s role in fighting the Biden climate crisis
Biden has taken a series of steps that seek to re-prioritize environmental and climate issues. It stopped more than 100 regulatory actions on the environment taken by the Trump administration. He announced that the United States would join the Paris climate accord and canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. It also said Monday that it plans to replace the federal government’s vehicle fleet with American-made electric cars.
The president has tried to highlight how his administration will take science more seriously than the previous administration. In addition to appointing McCarthy as the White House climate coordinator, he appointed former Secretary of State Kerry as the presidential envoy for climate. This is a cabinet-level position that also has a seat on the National Security Council.
The Biden administration has told reporters that they should wait for more reports from scientists and public health experts to explain ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19, and not from politically appointees and the president. The government has also moved to elevate the job of presidential scientific advisor to cabinet level, a role played by Eric Lander, a senior leader of the Human Genome Project.
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