White House head signs a series of executive orders to fight climate change
President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders Wednesday in the fight against climate change. These include suspending new leases on federal lands for oil and gas extraction and reducing fossil fuel subsidies.
These executive orders set the direction of the president’s environmental agenda, contrasting with the policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who sought to maximize oil, gas, and coal production in the United States by eliminating regulatory restrictions and relaxing environmental standards.
Biden’s focus on climate change has galvanized international partners and environmentalists but has drawn displeasure from big oil companies, who argue that the moves will cost the country millions of jobs and billions of dollars.
Biden has directed the Interior Department to suspend new oil and gas contracts on federal lands and coastal waters and to analyze the program’s impact on the climate and taxpayers.
The president seeks to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030 and to ensure that 30 percent of federal lands and waters are conserved to protect the environment.
The executive orders affect large tracts of land – mostly in the western states – as well as offshore drilling waters, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico. Together, they account for about a quarter of the nation’s oil and gas production. The initiative has drawn criticism from states in whose economies drilling revenues play a large role.
As previously reported in a White House press release, one of the president’s initiatives is to direct federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
Climate Special Envoy John Kerry outlined the planned measures during the World Economic Forum’s virtual summit in Davos on Wednesday, saying the initiatives underscore the centrality of combating climate change to Biden’s policy agenda.
Hess Corp. energy CEO John Hess urged the administration to consider the possible labor market and energy security implications of the aforementioned initiatives.
“They need to realize that oil and gas is a strategic engine of the U.S. economy … oil and gas play a key role in economic recovery,” Hess emphasized.
Abraxas Petroleum CEO Bob Watson said he was concerned about the impact of the planned measures on the economy in the current crisis.
Biden has also been criticized by liberals in his own party, who are demanding stronger action on climate change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday urged Biden to declare a national emergency on the issue, which would allow the president to leverage additional resources to achieve his goals.
The new executive orders also say the administration plans to hold an international climate summit on Earth Day (April 22), create new positions and an interagency task force on climate change, and increase government purchases of green energy and vehicles produced in the United States, encourage science and technology development and provide assistance to communities most affected by industrial pollution.
Biden’s new initiatives include directing government agencies to develop policies to address disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts in poor and minority neighborhoods.