WASHINGTON – President Biden signed a comprehensive suite of executive measures on Wednesday – from suspending new federal oil leases to electrifying the government’s vast fleet of vehicles – taking into account both job creation and the climate crisis.
Mr Biden said his guidelines would reserve 30 percent of the state and water for conservation purposes, make climate policy central to national safety decisions, and build a nationwide network of charging stations for electric cars.
But much of the employment selling points appeared to counter long-standing Republican attacks that Mr Biden’s climate policies would inevitably harm an economy already weakened by the pandemic.
Mr Biden argued instead that technological gains and demands on wind and solar infrastructure would create work that would more than make up for the loss of jobs even in parts of the country dependent on the fracking boom. Harnessing government purchasing power to buy zero-emission vehicles would accelerate the transition from gasoline-powered cars and ultimately create “a million new jobs in America’s auto industry.”
In total, the text of its Executive Ordinance mentions the word “jobs” 15 times.
And in clear echo of former President Barack Obama’s claims that his climate policies would create millions of “green jobs”, Mr Biden also said his agenda would create “predominant wage” jobs and union jobs for workers by 1.5 Build millions of new energy. efficient homes to build and install half a million new electric vehicle charging stations and to seal a million leaking oil and gas wells.
“Today is Climate Day in the White House, which means that today is work day in the White House,” said Biden.
Adopting another Republican chorus, Mr Biden reiterated his longstanding position that he would not ban fracking and said his policies would actually “protect jobs and create jobs” by getting people to plug leaking oil and gas wells . His mandate creates a task force that aims to economically revitalize communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry.
Some prominent Republicans said they wouldn’t buy it and the government was actually hurting employment as well as middle class families.
“I’m all in favor of switching to cleaner forms of energy, but we have to face the reality, for example, that there are 280 million internal combustion-engine cars on our roads,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas in a statement. “How will families get to work, take their children to school, or live their lives when suddenly the very natural resource they rely on for their cars is no longer available?”
Economists said some of Mr. Biden’s claims were exaggerated, but they cautiously praised his plans to find employment for displaced fossil-fuel workers.
David Popp, an economist at Syracuse University and co-author of a 2020 paper on the employment effects of Obama-era spending on green job creation, turned down the idea of creating a million new auto manufacturing jobs. “He’s basically saying he’s going to double the auto manufacturing. I can’t believe it, ”said Mr. Popp. “You can’t do that with car emissions regulations. You can’t do that with public procurement. “
However, Mr Popp and others noted that several economic studies of the employment effects of environmental regulations tend to conclude that it is a net wash – jobs lost in polluting sectors are often synonymous with jobs lost in the field clean energy and environmental protection were created.
And he commended Mr Biden for recognizing that the government should play a bigger role in helping displaced people find clean energy jobs. “The skills on these clean energy jobs – installing and manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines – actually go well with workers in fields like mining or offshore drilling,” he said. “What really matters is how well you balance the job losses with the gains.”
After four years of former President Trump mocking climate science and dismantling climate policy, environmentalists welcomed the changes.
“This is the biggest day for climate action in more than a decade,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, ended his 279 nearly weekly Senate climate speeches saying, “The conditions for a real solution are finally in place.”
Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey and a critic of the former Trump administration’s policies to eradicate climate change regulations, noted that about 40 percent of the U.S. workforce was in clean energy in 2019. “That’s the way the world goes,” she said.
Company managers reacted measuredly. The United States Chamber of Commerce praised Mr Biden’s efforts to tackle rising emissions while condemning his policy on ending oil and gas leases.
This decision to pause new leases is a significant step towards one of Mr Biden’s most controversial election promises: He would suspend new drilling permits for federal states and bodies of water.
His executive ordinance comes to an end and instructs the Ministry of the Interior to only “pause” rental contracts “in accordance with current law” until a review of the effects of climate change on drilling lands and federal waters is available. Permits are not dealt with.
In the meantime, the contract also provides for an increase in the production of renewable energies in these areas and bodies of water, with the aim of doubling offshore wind by 2030.
Oil, gas and coal executives said Mr. Biden’s lease hiatus will do little to actually reduce United States emissions and result in job losses and more imported oil. The Western Energy Alliance, which represents oil and gas producers in western states, filed a lawsuit within minutes of Mr Biden’s signing of its ruling, stating that the president had exceeded his powers to suspend new leases.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Wyoming County, accuses the Biden administration of making an “arbitrary and capricious” decision.
But the rental break was one that climate change advocates had been looking for a long time, and many said they hope the Biden government will go further and refuse permits for new oil and gas wells. Oceana, an environmental group focused on ocean health, released an analysis this week which found that ending the new offshore oil and gas leasing could save over 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Biden’s actions on Wednesday also set broad new foreign policy objectives – including the fact that climate change will for the first time be a central part of all foreign and national security decisions. Overall, they started his promise to largely focus the federal government on climate policy, but the concrete implementation of the new policy could take years, experts said.
“The high-level message of these orders is that we will undo the things Trump did to weaken the environment,” said Jody Freeman, Harvard professor of environmental law who served as Obama’s White House climate adviser Administration. She described the plans as “operating instructions for agencies”.
On foreign affairs, Wednesday’s executive order formalized the role of former Foreign Secretary John Kerry as Mr Biden’s international climate commissioner, who sits on the National Security Council. The measures also call on the German government’s 17 secret services to draw up an initial national secret service assessment of the national security risks of climate change.
The government officially announced that it will host a Climate Leaders Summit of major emitters and other nations on April 22nd, Earth Day. Mr Kerry said that by that date the United States will announce a number of new specific targets outlining how to reduce its carbon emissions in accordance with the provisions of the Paris Agreement, the international climate agreement from which former President Donald J. Trump had withdrawn, would lower and to which Mr Biden has returned.
The United States has endeavored to fulfill its promises made in the Paris Agreement. It had promised to reduce emissions by up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Energy analysts in the US have speculated that the Biden administration could now reasonably promise to cut emissions by 40 to 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Europeans and environmental activists have urged the United States to go up to 70 percent further. Mr Kerry said Wednesday it was “far too early” to speak numbers.
Mr Biden also directed the agencies to look for ways to improve the information available on climate forecasting to help governments and others prepare for the effects of climate change. Every federal agency is also expected to make plans to better protect their facilities from rising sea levels, storms, droughts and other climate effects.
This is a significant challenge: even the headquarters of many Washington agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency, are in the 100-year flood plain.
Mr Biden issued a comprehensive presidential memorandum on Wednesday directing agencies to make what the White House called “evidence-based decisions based on the best available science and data.” Any agency, not just those conducting scientific research, must appoint “scientific integrity” officials.
The steps to ensure scientific integrity follow the efforts of the Trump administration to thwart climate science.
Gina McCarthy, Mr Biden’s top domestic climate policy advisor, reiterated that Mr Biden has rated his climate policy as good for employment by creating clean energy jobs where fossil fuel work is declining. “We’re not going to ask people to go to the coast from central Ohio and Pennsylvania to work on solar,” she said. “We’re not going to take any jobs away.”