United States President Joe Biden speaks out on combating climate change before signing executive measures in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on January 27, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Joe Biden took a series of executive action on climate change in his first few weeks in office to reverse the Trump administration’s environmental troubles and respond quickly to campaign pledges to combat global warming.
The president’s instructions, while significant, do not replace the government’s plans to put in place more permanent climate legislation, including parts of the $ 2 trillion proposal to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2035, and net by 2050 -Achieve zero emissions.
Without the new congressional climate legislation, Biden’s order to reverse Trump’s emissions cut from vehicles, power plants, and oil and gas drilling could easily be reversed by a future government. It could be years before many of Biden’s legal reversals are imposed.
What could stand in the way of Biden in adopting major climate reform on issues like phasing out coal and oil with clean energy technology are moderate Senate Democrats and Republicans from fossil fuel states who oppose policies they consider harmful to industry in view their home state.
Biden’s government has a slim majority in the Democratic Senate, 10 votes less than the 60 votes required to break the Senate filibuster and pass climate change laws. The Senate is shared 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris as a groundbreaking vote for Democrats.
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Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), who opposes ending the filibuster and broke with his party to defend coal production in West Virginia, is the new chairman of the Senate Energy Committee and will have tremendous power in deciding it , what is happening.
Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Law at Columbia Law School, said that while many of Biden’s climate proposals would not require action by Congress, Congress is essential for adequate infrastructure spending and to strengthen Air Pollution Control and other regulations Reduce fossil fuel production.
“Without action from Congress, you don’t have the assurance of continuity. You have a loss of momentum, which is a big problem,” said Gerrard. “At the same time, we are seeing falling costs for wind and sun. The market will drive a lot of this forward without government action.”
Democrats tried, but failed, to pass the climate bill when they controlled Congress under former President Barack Obama, and are likely to face similar difficulties under Biden.
The national emergency option
Senator Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), the majority leader, raised the challenge of comprehensive bipartisan climate reform and recently called on the president to make climate change a national emergency.
Triggering a climate emergency is a controversial move that would give the Biden government more powers to bypass Congress, such as redirecting funds to clean energy sources and canceling offshore drilling projects. And the move would certainly face legal challenges.
Actors and activists (from left to right) Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon and Martin Sheen march on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC during the “Fire Drill Fridays” protest and rally on climate change on January 10, 2020.
Paul Morigi | Getty Images
“Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall that wasn’t an emergency,” Schumer said earlier this week in an interview on MSNBC. “But if ever there was an emergency, the climate is one. So I would suggest they consider the climate an emergency, which would give them more flexibility.”
Democrats could also use a budget process known as reconciliation to get some tax and spending bills passed without GOP support. Schumer said Democrats could use this process to ban fossil-fuel internal combustion engine production.
“Biden’s actions in his first week speak louder than words when it comes to addressing climate change as a national emergency,” said Jeremy Symons, director of environmental consultancy Symons Public Affairs and former deputy chief of staff on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
“If cabinet secretaries find they need an official emergency statement from the president to make it big, the White House can take that advice, but first things first,” added Symons. “There is no point in getting involved when you have the full expertise of the government at hand.”
As Biden’s climate change agenda takes shape, some companies have become key allies. General Motors announced on Thursday that it will exclusively offer electric vehicles through 2035. It does this when Biden’s team works on legislation for new fuel economy standards.
“Even without regulations, Biden sends very strong signals to the market,” said Gerrard. “Automakers know the future is electric. Wind and solar companies know they have a bright future. And fossil fuels – not so much.”