Environmental Law

Biden Administration Renews Efforts in Climate Change Legislation

The Biden Administration has taken a firm stance on climate change, its effects, and the efforts the nation will put forth to combat the further decline of the world's health.

One of the hallmark promises made during President Biden’s presidential campaign was an emphasis on climate change and renewed efforts to reverse the damage years of industrialization have caused. Within Biden’s 100 days in office, there has been much talk and action on both the federal and state level to ensure this promise is met. 

One of the overarching goals of the Biden administration’s efforts on climate change is to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. is second to China as being the world’s biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The details of this goal are still trickling out, but one of the target aims is that by 2030, emissions will have been reduced by at least 50% of 2005’s levels. 

A Push Towards Electric Vehicles

One of the most immediate, tangible changes in the efforts of climate change can be seen in the automotive sector. Many big name companies including Ford and GM are putting an emphasis on innovating and producing more electric vehicles in an effort to move away from gasoline reliance. The president is a proponent of this change as he has also vowed to change all vehicles in the presidential fleet to electric vehicles as well. This move would fall under the efforts of his newly enacted “Buy American” Act. 

U.S. Rejoins the Paris Agreement 

The Paris Agreement, the world’s leading international treaty on climate change, was not a priority for the previous administration, but upon Biden’s entrance into office, the U.S. reclaimed its position within the Paris Agreement. By rejoining, the U.S. will continue its efforts in planning and reporting its response to climate change. 

2021 Climate Summit

In addition to the Paris Agreement, Biden kicked off Earth Day with a Leaders’ Climate Summit that included 40 world leaders to discuss the collaborations, initiatives, and goals in reducing global greenhouse gasses. Takeaways from the summit included outlining different environmental benchmarks and continuing the conversation on climate. A conversation that many argued the previous administration did not take seriously. 

Climate Change a Matter of Nation Security 

According to the White House, climate considerations are “an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security.” Because of its importance, the White House has created the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. The Chairman will have a seat on the National Security Council in an effort to promote the importance of climate change. The position highlights the administration’s efforts of weaving climate change discussions into matters of national security. 

Establishing National Climate Task Force

This newly established task force will take a “whole government” approach to tackle climate change. The task force will consist of leaders from 21 federal agencies. Through the efforts of the task force, support and funding will be targeted to areas of the nation that need it most. Just recently, the task force shared its latest efforts which include over $700 million in new conservation funding. The National Climate Task Force falls underneath the White House Office of Domestic Policy which will see its first ever National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor. 

States Push for Climate Change Legislation 

While the foundation for climate change regulation is being laid at the federal level, state leaders are taking action of their own as well in order to promote the efforts of climate change legislation. 

Colorado Democratic Representative, Diana DeGette is behind the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act. Under this bill, 30% of the nation’s land and waters will be preserved by the year 2030. The aim of this bill is to contribute to the health of the planet by preserving land and waters. Under the bill, there are several acts, the key takeaways include the following: 

  • The Grand Canyon Protection Act: This act will make permanent and existing law that prohibits new mining claims for mineral withdrawal. 
  • Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act: This act will protect 260,000 acres of land and 379 miles of scenic rivers and land. 
  • Central Coast Heritage Protection Act – This act would protect scenic lands and watersheds. 
  • San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act – This act would expand protections in place for the Angeles National Forest 
  • Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act – This act would expand by 191,000 acres the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. 
  • Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act – This act protects recreational areas in the high central mountains of Colorado. 
  • Colorado Wilderness Act – Over 600,000 acres of public land would be permanently protected as wilderness
  • Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act – Over 126,000 acres of the Olympic National Forest would be protected along with 464 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System

The Path Forward

The Biden Administration has taken a firm stance on climate change, its effects, and the efforts the nation will put forth to combat the further decline of the world’s health. As talks of climate change continue to persist throughout the nation and the world as a whole, it is expected that more intentional climate change legislation will continue to develop during and after President Biden’s administration. 

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