Biden signs executive order aimed at addressing climate change

January 28, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
January 28, 2021

President Joe Biden on Jan. 27 signed an executive order aimed at addressing climate change that consists of two major parts, with the first part addressing foreign policy and national security and the second part focused on a domestic “government-wide” approach.

The executive order establishes the roles and responsibilities of both the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, focused on international activities, and the National Climate Advisor, focused on domestic efforts.

It also creates a National Climate Task Force comprised of cabinet members and agency leaders. Those leaders will be tasked with, among other things, creating a federal clean electricity and vehicle procurement strategy that will use as available procurement authorities to achieve or facilitate “a carbon pollution-free electricity section no later than 2035” and “clean and zero-emission vehicles for Federal, State, local, and Tribal government fleets.”

The executive order also states that it is the policy of the Biden administration to “align the management of the Federal procurement and real property, public lands and waters, and financial programs to support robust climate action.”

In addition, it directs the task force to increase renewable energy production on federal lands and waters with a goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030.

The executive order also requires the Office of Management and Budget director, along with the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, to take steps to “ensure that federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and to require federal permitting decisions consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”

It also tasks them with identifying steps that can be taken to “accelerate the deployment of clean energy and transmission projects in an environmentally stable manner.”

It also creates an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization tasked with coordinating and delivering federal resources to revitalize the economies of communities with coal, oil, and gas power plants.

In addition, the executive order creates an Environmental Justice Interagency Council representing several federal agencies to “address current and historic environmental injustice.”

The executive order is available here.

In remarks made on Jan. 27, Biden said that already, 84 percent of all new electric capacity planned to come onto the electric grid this is year is clean energy. 

“Clean energy. Why?  Because it’s affordable. Because it’s clean. Because, in many cases, it’s cheaper,” he said. 

“We’re going to need scientists, the national labs, land-grant universities, historical black colleges and universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit clean electric — clean electricity across distances, and battery technology, and a whole range of other things,” he said.

Biden on Jan. 20 recommitted the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement.

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