President Joe Biden warned the climate crisis presents an “existential threat” to the world. In an executive order, to fight back against this challenge, Biden called for the “halting fossil fuel activity on public lands and directing the U.S. government to start a full-frontal effort to lower planet-heating emissions.”
Biden said, “We have already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis, we can’t wait any longer,”on Wednesday. “We see it with our own eyes, we feel it in our bones. It’s time to act.”
To pursue his lofty goals, Biden told the U.S. government to “pause and review all oil and gas drilling on federal land, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and transform the government’s vast fleet of cars and trucks into electric vehicles, in a sweeping new set of climate executive orders.” Biden added, “We desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis, because there is a climate crisis.”
Biden claimed that “tackling climate change” is “a remedy to pandemic-driven unemployment.” The President asserts that “millions of well-paid jobs would flow from investments in clean energy, such as solar and wind, as well as energy efficiency measures for homes and the clean-up of former oil wells.” To his detractors, Biden says, “These aren’t pie in the sky dreams, they are concrete actionable solutions.”
He added, “This isn’t time for small measures, we need to be bold. It’s about jobs, good paying union jobs, it’s a whole of government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security and foreign policies. We can do this, we must do this and we will do this.”
The executive orders will cause the Department of the Interior to take a pause on new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters and they’ll launch a “rigorous review of all existing leasing.” This may lead to banning new drilling on federal land. His plan could be devastating to the fossil fuel industry.
For the first time, the White House will have an office of domestic climate policy. This group will serve to coordinate Biden’s climate agenda and work alongside a national climate task force—composed of 21 government agency leaders in an effort to reduce emissions. An environmental justice interagency council will be established “to address the racial and economic inequities exacerbated by climate change and air and water pollution.”
Biden has set a goal of eliminating pollution from fossil fuel in the power sector by 2035 and from the U.S. economy overall by 2050, in an attempt to slow “human-caused global warming that is magnifying extreme weather events such as deadly wildfires in the West and drenching rains and hurricanes in the East.”
Biden pledged to create “millions of good-paying, union jobs” building electric cars, installing solar panels and wind turbines, and performing specialized work to cap abandoned wells, restore mine-scarred land and turn old industrial sites ‘into the new hubs of economic growth.’”
Some Republicans are leery of the programs and are concerned that they will be “job killers.” Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “Pie-in-the-sky government mandates and directives that restrict our mining, oil, and gas industries adversely impact our energy security and independence.” Other oil and coal-producing states are worried that many people will face job losses in the pivot to clean energy, such as wind and solar power.
I believe we can all agree that we want a better, cleaner environment. Biden’s goals are admirable and his heart is in the right place. However, the overarching concern is that will it work? The executive orders are betting on a future built on solar and wind power and other clean-energy technologies. The fossil fuel and fracking sectors may see a tremendous amount of job losses.
This is a very aggressive bet. If the substantial investment in clean, green energy doesn’t help, then we’ve wasted billions or trillions of dollars and lost millions of well-paying jobs.