On the campaign trail, Joe Biden proclaimed “nothing would fundamentally change.”
This made many, particularly progressives that ultimately helped get Biden elected, understandably nervous.
Then Biden released the most progressive climate and economic plan of any Democratic nominee in modern American history, and appointed former Secretary of State and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry to the position of “climate tsar“.
Amid a historic flurry of executive orders these first weeks of his administration, Joe Biden issued several establishing the most progressive climate policy in history, including demanding the federal government pause and review oil and gas drilling on federal land, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, and electrify the government’s vehicle fleet.
In total, 21 federal agencies will now be parcel to an all-encompassing climate network.
One of President Biden’s recent climate actions involved cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline permit that previously pumped Canadian tar sands through the middle of the country down to the Gulf of Mexico.
Following through on a comment Sen. Bernie Sanders made about Biden having the potential to be “the most progressive president since FDR,” the president also intends to establish a Civilian Climate Corps modeled after Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps.
This will create myriad jobs in a green energy sector outpacing the fossil fuel industry.
Sierra Club Outdoors for All campaign director Jackie Ostfeld stated in a press release:
“Providing conservation jobs for young people is an essential part of a green recovery and will help a generation of Americans struggling in the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all while doing the work we need to protect our public lands and stave off the worst effects of climate change.
“Moreover, a 21st-century Climate Corps will be a driver for economic and outdoor equity. Prioritizing hiring from frontline communities and supporting projects in those same areas will provide a much-needed economic boost while increasing access to the outdoors in the communities that need it most.”
Duke University environmental policy expert, Tim Profeta, added:
“The whole approach is classic Biden: working-class values, putting people to work.”
Ending subsidies to fossil fuel giants is another monumental step, reversing decades of corporate welfare contributing to intransigence on progressive climate legislation.
Last week, Biden said:
“Unlike previous administrations, I don’t think the federal government should give handouts to Big Oil to the tune of $40 billion in fossil fuel subsidies. I’m gonna be going to the Congress and asking them to eliminate those subsidies.”
Congress is already queued up.
Last year Rep. Ilhan Omar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and other progressive lawmakers introduced the End Polluter Welfare Act to “abolish dozens of tax loopholes, subsidies, and other special interest giveaways littered throughout the federal tax code.”
This alone would save taxpayers up to $150 billion over the next decade.
Biden's Executive Order and statements today could set the stage for a MASSIVE shift away from public handouts to the fossil fuel industry – not only in the US, but around the world.
— Alex Doukas (@adoukas) January 27, 2021
This is the example the United States has needed to set for years.
Oil Change International (OCI) senior campaigner, Collin Rees, explained:
“Directing federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies where they are able to is a welcome shift from a Trump administration that spent four years doubling down to massive giveaways to oil, gas, and coal. Biden campaigned on eliminating fossil fuel giveaways, and voters agree by a huge margin. Taking the climate crisis seriously means prioritizing clean energy and investing in an equitable transition, not propping up an industry destroying the climate and abandoning its workers.”
Former Clinton administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Carol Browner said:
“President Joe Biden is taking unprecedented actions and sending an unmistakable message to the world that the United States is back and serious about tackling the climate crisis.”
Biden proclaimed at last week’s “Climate Day” at the White House:
“This isn’t time for small measures. We need to be bold.”
Biden has so far been receptive to activists’ calls for more progressive climate policy, so there is no reason why he shouldn’t be amenable to going ever further.
As Climate Tsar John Kerry said:
“We are already spending the money, folks. It’s cheaper to deal with the crisis of climate than to ignore it. This is life or death, a challenge to the fiber of our society. The stakes on climate change couldn’t be any higher than they are now. Failure is literally not an option.”
Image credit: Pressenza