Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced executive actions his administration will take to combat climate change. The actions include:
- $2.3 billion in funding for a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that assists heat-ravaged communities;
- New guidance for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to support additional energy efficiency upgrades; and
- Plans to develop offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf.
The initiative comes as Biden continues to struggle to implement his climate change agenda. Yesterday’s announcement fell short of formally declaring a climate emergency, despite pressure from Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups this week to do so. Over the past several days, negotiations collapsed on whether to include the administration’s clean energy and climate provisions in a budget reconciliation package, and the Supreme Court ruled to limit the federal government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Declaring a climate emergency could have unlocked executive tools like the Defense Production Act to push clean energy development or the National Emergency Act to ban crude oil exports or redirect federal spending to buildout renewables.
“Since Congress is not acting as it should ... this is an emergency and I will look at it that way,” Biden said during the announcement. “As president I’ll use my executive powers to combat the climate crisis in the absence of executive action.” White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said that the administration will continue to study an emergency declaration despite no formal announcement.
These actions are likely the first step of many as the administration begins to take steps to meet their goals surrounding climate change amid ongoing congressional gridlock. With midterm elections approaching and Americans facing high energy prices and increased inflation, climate policies are under particular scrutiny. Should Biden declare a climate emergency, the administration will face push back due to the economic toll on consumers.
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