Biden his time: how the US president is failing on the climate crisis | Joe Biden
This article first appeared in Down to Earth, the Guardian’s climate crisis news bulletin. Sign up here to read more exclusive articles like this and for a roundup of the biggest environmental stories of the week every Thursday
Below is a photo of me in 2017, huddled around the television in front of the climate publication I worked for, looking resigned as President Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the climate change agreement. Paris on the climate.
I couldn’t have imagined the mad rush I was in. In four years, Trump agencies have gutted more than 100 environmental protections against air and water pollution, biodiversity and climate change. And they did it with dramatic flair.
The Home Secretary began his first day on horseback. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has spent exorbitant sums on soundproof telephone booths and private planes.
By the end of Trump’s chaotic presidency, I was exhausted. The new Biden administration felt like a much-needed reprieve. Biden has pledged to restore the regulations Trump gutted and to make the climate crisis a top priority.
I was skeptical of what he could accomplish, but tried to muster some hope. Now, a year into Biden’s presidency, it’s clear that what little optimism I had was misguided.
Biden’s climate legacy is starting to take shape, and it doesn’t look good.
So far, his administration has:
1. Hosted the largest offshore oil drilling lease sale ever in the Gulf of Mexico
In November, Biden offered 80 million acres of water to oil drillers. For years, the US government has regularly leased parts of the Gulf of Mexico for offshore exploration and drilling. But environmental and public health advocates had hoped the president who campaigned on climate action would at least scale back the practice.
Last month, a judge canceled the auction – ruling that the administration had failed to properly disclose and consider how the leases would contribute to the climate crisis. This court ruling is one of the Biden administration’s biggest climate victories. And it happened despite the efforts of the administration – not because of them. Today, more than 300 groups signed an emergency petition to stop all new drilling in the Gulf.
2. Permit no more drilling on public lands in the Where is and Alaska than Trump did in his first year
Biden approved nearly 900 more permits to drill on public lands in 2021 than Trump in 2017, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. This is despite his campaign promises to end new oil and gas leases on federal lands. In November, Biden also urged drillers to produce more oil, in a bid to lower gasoline prices.
3. Failure to advance climate legislation agenda
During the campaign trail, Biden promised to halve US climate emissions by 2030, including investing significantly in renewable energy. But his legislative package to achieve this – Build Back Better – has stalled. Two Democrats – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – may be the main culprits behind this failure, but convincing them to buy into his program was always going to be one of Biden’s biggest challenges, and he failed to do so. do it.
4. Hesitated to recover quickly rules
Under Biden, even minor regulations that mandate more energy-efficient ovens, freezers and light bulbs are stuck in regulatory limbo. And he could face a blow this month if the conservative-leaning Supreme Court rules the federal government can’t write rules to reduce climate pollution from power plants.
Biden didn’t follow the basics. And it certainly hasn’t brought about the kind of drastic, aggressive action the world’s scientists say is needed to avert catastrophic global warming.
As the United States prepares for the midterm elections in November, it remains to be seen whether Biden will go further in his environmental efforts.
This isn’t the first massive failure of federal climate efforts, and it won’t be the last. The lesson: Policy makers and industries won’t do the right thing unless they are forced to, by our decisions with our ballots and our wallets.