Biden’s 100 days in office passed last week, and media outfits across the country issued report cards. The crackerjack team of research savants at Campfire Content World HQ read through many of the summations, taking note of achievements (and failures) on the green and climate fronts.
The Biden Administration announced one fresh effort just yesterday. The Environmental Protection Agency now is proposing rules that will regulate the hydroflurocarbons, man-made chemical used in refrigeration and air-conditioning. Hydrofluorocarbons are thousands of times more effective at warming Earth than carbon dioxide.
Climate-oriented announcements and moves like this one have emerged at a rapid pace. Now, we offer our assessment of President Biden’s first 100 days, which, assuming he remains president until at least January 20, 2025, amounts to 6.8 percent of his first term.
From the beginning — including his first hours in office — Biden championed the Green Economy, fighting climate change, protecting natural resources and more. Thanks to his early actions, the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement, and canceled the Keystone XL pipeline.
He hired high-profile former senator and presidential candidate John Kerry to lead the administration’s climate efforts. Serious climate advocates like Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and National Economic Council director Brian Deese joined the administration. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a former New Mexico congresswoman, immediately began putting the brakes on dreadful Trump actions. Among her early efforts: dismantling rules that made it easier for extraction companies to drill on federal lands (which cover 1/3 of the United States), and weakening a rule that hobbled the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires environmental reviews of potential projects on federal land before permits are granted.
His first address of a Joint Session of Congress repeatedly returned to climate and green themes. Wisely, most of that advocacy revolved around the jobs that commitment to green ideals will nurture.
The messaging has been clear and forceful from the beginning, far more powerful than any presidential administration in history.
- Announcing a new target — 2030 — for the United States to achieve a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 2005.
- Reentering Paris Agreement, a global framework for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
- Eliminating plans to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Refuge.
- Signing executive order that pledges to protect 30% of U.S. lands and waters from environmental damage by 2030.
- Pausing (for now) oil and gas leasing on public lands, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Regulating hydrofluorocarbons
- Withdrawing offshore drilling plans, and launching offshore wind energy initiatives.
- Investing powerful and strategic investments in electrifying the transportation sector, including (among other things) financial incentives to purchase electric vehicles, vowing to transform the federal vehicle fleet into one mostly comprised of EVs, and planning to foster the spread of charging stations across the nation. Biden’s infrastructure bill contains even more details about his ambitious electrification plans.
Biden began his administration with strong environmental commitments. Pledges to act as an environmental steward continue to emerge. Our guess is the 200-day scorecard will offer more climate-focused initiatives.
Collectively — Biden’s savvy team of climate advocates, his early concrete steps, his constant evangelism on behalf of the climate — amount to the boldest environmental presidency in American history.
Biden has made climate change a key organizing principle within domestic policy. His proposed infrastructure bill revolves around it. In addition, the administration championed its intent to make climate central to United States’ diplomatic relationships with other countries and through multi-lateral bodies like NATO.
The administration is just getting started. Congress offers myriad roadblocks, particularly with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, serving as the decisive vote on things like Biden’s infrastructure bill, which include many green initiatives. As a senator from Trump-loving, coal-worshiping West Virginia, Manchin could reject environmental initiatives that he thinks go too far, to satisfy his constituents.
Biden has not weaseled away from taking courageous steps to fight climate change. Conservatives for decades have pitted economic growth and environmentalism against each other. If you are pro-environment, they shout, you are anti-job. The specter of this argument muted past Democratic administrations from going all-in on the environment and climate.
Biden? He’s all in.
Given the staggering mendacity and sinister environmental policy of Trump, it wouldn’t take much for his predecessor to be viewed in an extremely rosy light. But even if for the sake of this exercise we could skip over Trump and compare Biden to Obama, Biden still stands out for his superb and bold stewardship of environmental policy.