By JENNIFER A. DLOUHY AND ARI NATTER
WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) –Joe Biden will unveil sweeping action to combat climate change hours after becoming president, moving to rejoin the Paris accord and imposing a moratorium on oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Environmentalists said Biden’s actions — some of which could take years to be implemented — will renew the U.S. commitment to safeguarding the environment and signal to the world that America has returned to the global fight against climate change.
The moves mark a dramatic rebuke of President Donald Trump’s pro-industry approach to energy and the environment.
On Paris alone, Biden is directly reversing Trump’s decision to yank the U.S. from the accord. Trump labeled the pact “a total disaster” that would harm American competitiveness by enabling “a giant transfer of American wealth to foreign nations that are responsible for most of the world’s pollution.”
Biden will notify the United Nations the U.S. is rejoining the Paris climate agreement before day’s end, with the re-entry set to take effect 30 days later, according to briefing materials from the Biden transition.
“While we are grateful for this action, we also know this is only the start. We need our country to be fully powered by clean energy, and we must do it quickly and thoroughly,” said Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions campaign. “The days of dirty, fossil fuel-burning, 19th Century technology must be numbered in order to reach a cleaner tomorrow.”
Biden announced a breathtaking array of policies would be reviewed, from automobile standards and appliance efficiency requirements eased under Trump to narrowed boundaries of national monuments in the western U.S.
In an executive order Wednesday, Biden will direct agencies to review and address Trump-era policies “that were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science or otherwise not in the national interest,” according to a transition fact sheet.
Biden will direct federal agencies to reconsider other Trump-era policies, including measures governing seismic oil surveys in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing roads to be built through Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and dialing back efficiency standards for appliances. Another target: a Trump rule narrowing the scope of government agency reviews of how their decisions affect the environment.
Other actions the Biden transition announced:
- Directing the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department to consider revising automobile fuel-economy and tailpipe emissions standards that were relaxed under Trump.
- Ordering the Interior Department to review monument boundaries shrunk during the Trump administration, including Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, which was pared to about 220,000 acres from its original 1.4-million-acre footprint.
- Halting the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline by revoking the permit Trump awarded.
Like other Democrats on the campaign trail, Biden made no secret of his plans to restore the U.S. as a member of the 2015 accord and recommit the country to slashing greenhouse gas emissions. Still, environmentalists said his Day One move is essential to helping encourage greater global action to arrest the climate threat.
Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. was a driving force behind the formation of the landmark Paris agreement. Now, the Biden administration can play a critical role setting more aggressive U.S. emissions-reductions targets and encouraging other countries to follow suit.
“Internationally there will be a expectation that the U.S. brings forward a new, ambitious target under the Paris agreement,” said David Waskow, director of the World Resources Institute’s international climate initiative. “Internationally, it’s an important way of making clear the U.S. is going to take care of business at home.”