February 6, 2021
President Biden has placed climate change squarely at the center of his White House agenda, using his first hours in office to rejoin the Paris climate accord and begin overturning more than 100 environmental actions taken by the Trump administration according to a January 29th Washington Post Report.
He has made it clear he will go well beyond reversing former president Donald Trump’s policies. On Jan. 27 he signed an executive order that elevated climate change as a national security issue; instructed every agency to take climate change into account when formulating its policies; directed the government to buy clean and zero-emission vehicles for federal, state, local and tribal government fleets; established a new civilian conservation corps; and ordered a plan for conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by the end of the decade.
Those initial moves are the first in what promises to be a much longer — and more arduous — effort to unwind the Trump administration’s sweeping environmental and energy policies, which were marked by aggressive deregulation, prioritizing the fossil fuels industry and sidelining efforts to combat climate change or protect imperiled animals.
Trump worked to scale back or abolish more than 200 environmental protections in just a single term, according to a Washington Post analysis, completing more than 170 of them. Biden can overturn some of them with a stroke of a pen.
Others will take years to undo, and some may never be reversed.
Four Obama-era regulations were nullified under the Congressional Review Act, which prevents the introduction of a new rule that is “substantially the same” as what had been replaced, making Trump’s actions particularly hard to reverse.
The majority of Trump’s rollbacks affect air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change, though 27 affect wildlife and 23 relate to infrastructure and planning. Though Biden is unlikely to target every one of his predecessor’s environmental actions, dozens of them are already in his sights.
The Post divides Biden’s 68 air pollution and greenhouse gas emission actions targeting Trump environmental positions into four categories – New, Easy, Medium, Difficult – for actually being addressed and/or implemented.
- NEW: New policies or actions put in place by the Biden Administration (4 actions). Example actions include:
- Climate Change as a National Security Priority – Ordered national security agencies to deliver a report within 90 days on how they will integrate climate change into their work.
- Climate Finance – Instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to assess climate risk and work with other agencies to align U.S. spending.
- EASY: Existing Trump policies easy to overturn or reverse by a simple act, such as signing an executive order (22 actions). Example Trump actions targeted by Biden include:
- MEDIUM: Existing Trump policies which can be reversed only through more extensive action, such as rewriting a regulation or court ruling (29 actions). Example Trump actions targeted by Biden include:
- DIFFICULT: Existing Trump policies that can only be reversed through a lengthy regulatory process, act of Congress or court ruling (13 actions). Example Trump actions targeted by Biden include:
What this means to you
A list of sixty-eight Biden environmental actions is ranked in terms of New, Easy, Medium, and Difficult in terms of succeeding by the Washington Post.
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