President Biden will sign three executive actions on Wednesday aimed at addressing the climate crisis, kicking off the process of meeting U.S. obligations under the Paris agreement while directing the government to purchase electric vehicles and pause new oil and gas leases on public lands.
The sweeping package of executive orders, part of the administration’s “climate day,” hits on some of Biden’s major campaign promises: committing the U.S. to conserving 30 percent of public lands and waters by 2030; pausing the process of granting leases on public lands or offshore waters; and putting the U.S. on a path to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
The order formally establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, which will be led by climate adviser Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyBiden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation Biden to rejoin Paris agreement, revoke Keystone XL permit Biden to sign flurry of executive actions in first hours of presidency MORE, and creates the National Climate Task Force, bringing together 21 federal agencies for a whole-of-government approach promised by the Biden administration.
It also creates a Civilian Climate Corps, modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, a move the new administration argues will put “a new generation of Americans to work” conserving and restoring public lands and addressing the changing climate.
The climate-specific orders are paired with another on scientific integrity, a nod to career federal employees who complained their scientific work was stymied under the Trump administration.
Several of Wednesday’s orders build upon those already signed in the earliest days of the administration.
Drawing on his Buy American order, the orders direct federal agencies to procure carbon-pollution free, zero-emission electric cars that are produced in the U.S.
In pausing new oil activity on federal lands, the order directs the Interior Department to limit new leases “to the extent possible,” while excluding oil activity on Native American lands that can be a serious revenue generator for tribes. The order also directs agencies to end federal subsidies for fossil fuels “as consistent with applicable law.”
In addition, that order directs Interior to look for ways to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030.
The package also builds on Biden’s Day 1 order to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, kicking off the process for setting the goals the U.S. must meet under the agreement and developing a climate finance plan to help other countries address global warming.
The president, who is scheduled to deliver remarks on his climate and economic agenda and sign the directives Wednesday afternoon, has consistently broadcast his climate goals as part of his economic vision.
“Today’s actions advance those goals and ensure that we are tapping into the talent, grit, and innovation of American workers, revitalizing the U.S. energy sector, conserving our natural resources and leveraging them to help drive our nation toward a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs with the opportunity to join a union, and delivering justice for communities who have been subjected to environmental harm,” the White House said in a statement.
But it also establishes a shift in how the White House has traditionally thought of climate change, expanding the call from environmental agencies to those dealing with national security.
The order “establishes climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security,” the White House said, while instructing Director of National Intelligence Avril HainesAvril HainesBlinken holds first calls as Biden’s secretary of State Senate confirms Antony Blinken as Biden’s secretary of State Senate committee advances Biden’s DHS pick despite Republican pushback MORE to prepare an assessment of the national security implications of climate change.
It also formally establishes that the president will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day this year.
The science-driven order also re-establishes the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which included a greater number of industry-affiliated members under former President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden’s secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they ‘forgot who was the true leader’ MORE.
Biden’s scientific integrity order requires government agencies to “make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data.”
–Updated at 10:29 a.m.