President Joe Biden intends to minimize oil, gas, and coal emissions and double electricity generation from offshore wind farms by executive orders on Wednesday, in what will be the most ambitious U.S. initiative ever to stave off the worst consequences of climate change.
The directives pending his signature target federal oil and other fossil fuel subsidies and halt the new leasing of oil and gas on federal lands and waters. In the coming 10 years, they also plan to protect 30 percent of the ground and ocean waters of the nation and switch to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet.
Biden has set a goal of removing emissions from fossil fuels in the power sector by 2035 and from the U.S. economy as a whole by 2050, speeding up the growth of solar and wind energy already powered by the demand and reducing the reliance of the world on oil and gas. The ambitious strategy seeks to slow global warming caused by human beings, which magnifies severe weather incidents such as deadly wildfires in the West and drenching rainfall and hurricanes in the East. But for the president and Democrats as a whole, the accelerated speed of transition needed to stave off global warming still brings political danger.
Biden also guides organizations to concentrate assistance and funding on the low-income and minority populations that reside nearest to polluting refineries and other risks, and the oil and coal-patch cities that experience employment cuts as the U.S. continues to sharply expand its reliance on wind, solar, and other electricity sources that do not emit climate
The actions make it clear that “the White House said in a statement before Biden signed the orders, both significant short-term global emission reductions and net-zero global emissions by mid-century or before are needed to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory.”
The directives are targeted at “revitalising the U.S. energy industry, conserving and leveraging our natural resources to help drive our nation towards a future of clean energy,” the White House said, while “creating well-paying jobs…” and the provision of justice for populations vulnerable to environmental damage.
Biden is now considering climate change a priority for national security. As part of Biden’s campaign promise for a $2 trillion initiative to slow global warming, the restoration plan will set aside millions of acres for tourism, biodiversity and environment efforts by 2030.
President Donald Trump, who mocked climate change research, withdrawn the U.S. from the global climate deal in Paris, opened more federal lands to the development of coal, gas and oil, and weakened fossil fuel pollution legislation. Experts warn these pollutants dangerously fuel the Earth’s atmosphere and cause flooding, droughts and other natural hazards worse.
For the week-old Biden administration, Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb called the executive orders a “excellent start”.
If this energy of Day 7 is reflective of the four-year term of this administration, there is every reason to expect that we will reach carbon neutrality faster than 2050,” Cobb said, even as key roadblocks lie ahead.”
Investment in renewable energies would net millions of jobs, Biden and his backers claim. But it would undoubtedly take years to happen, and the directives will meet strong resistance from the oil and gas and power plant sectors, as well as from many politicians, both Republican and Democratic.
The executive order is designed to postpone fracking on federal property to the point that it is no longer feasible, said Kathleen Sgamma, chair of the Western Energy Alliance, which serves oil and gas drillers in Western states. A legal challenge was promised by her party.
“The environmental left, when it comes to energy and environmental issues, leads the White House agenda,” she said. She found that in states such as Wyoming, North Dakota, Texas, and Louisiana, all won by Trump, the freeze would be felt more acutely.
Last week, a 60-day moratorium on new drilling permits was declared on U.S. lands and waters.
After the Trump administration slowed the permit review of several giant offshore wind turbine projects, Biden is aiming to double offshore wind energy output.
Significantly, it orders the reduction of expenditures by organizations that serve as subsidies to the fossil fuel industries.
The fossil fuel industry has caused enormous harm to the earth. If done right, the administration’s analysis would show the dirty fracturing and exploration must stop anywhere for good,’ said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental organization that has advocated for the drilling pause.
Oil industry groups blasted the move, arguing that by killing the Keystone XL oil pipeline on his first day in office, Biden had already killed thousands of oil and gas workers.
“It’s only the beginning. It would get worse,’ said Brook Simmons, president of Oklahoma’s Petroleum Alliance. The rules of physics, chemistry, and supply and demand, meanwhile, remain in place. Prices of oil and natural gas are growing, and so are home heating bills, consumer prices, and gasoline costs.
The Interior Department’s 60-day suspension order would not affect current oil and gas activities under legal licences, ensuring that activity will not come to a complete halt on the millions of acres of western and offshore land in the Gulf of Mexico where heavy fracking is concentrated. It’s also doubtful that the freeze would hit current rentals. Companies that stockpiled enough fracking licences in the final months of Trump to allow them to keep pumping oil and gas for years may further blunt the impact.
The delay in onshore exploration is limited to federal property and does not concern private land drilling, which is primarily state-regulated.
It will exclude tribal lands that are used for energy development, mostly in the West. “In accordance with the trust obligations of the U.S. government, the Interior Department will continue to consult with tribes on both renewable and conventional energy resources,” the White House said.
Around a quarter of annual U.S. output is compensated for by oil and gas produced from federal lands and waterways. The U.S. produces the equivalent of almost 550 million tonnes (500 million metric tonnes) of greenhouse gases annually from the extraction and combustion of those fuels. The Geological Survey said in a report in 2018.
Under Trump, according to an Associated Press review of government records, authorities approved approximately 1,400 licenses on federal property, mostly in Wyoming and New Mexico, during a three-month stretch that included the presidency. Those licenses that remain valid would allow businesses to continue fracking for years, effectively undercutting the environmental agenda of Biden.
On Earth Day, April 22, Biden will direct all U.S. agencies to use research and evidence-based decision-making in federal rule-making and announce a U.S.-hosted summit of climate leaders.