This Friday marks half of President Biden’s term. This midpoint reminds us that time is crucial to meeting environmental commitments.
The administration has made significant strides in some areas of environmental policy. Conversations about environmental justice are finally being made at the highest levels of government. And the Inflation Reduction Act represents the US’s largest ever investment in climate solutions.
At the same time, many key regulatory decisions are progressing too slowly or falling short. Delay carries the risk of continued harm to people and the planet, failure to deliver on promises and missed opportunities before power changes negatively.
President Biden must meet this moment and start working urgently to meet climate and environmental justice commitments. Here are some ways it can do this:
Restoring bedrock environmental laws
- Trump administration launched several attacks Endangered Species ActAct that acts as the last safety net for endangered animals and plants. While the Biden administration has undo some of the damage, it insists that certain rules be only partially rewritten, which injects economic considerations into decisions that should be purely science-based. This dangerous shift could weaken ESA, an essential tool needed to tackle the biodiversity crisis. Join us in the call to reverse these damaging changes.
- Trump also tried to intimidate National Environmental Policy Actor public environmental law that helps communities protect themselves from problematic federal projects. Earthjustice wants the Biden administration to issue the promised regulations that undo Trump’s disastrous changes, thereby bringing certainty, clarity and equality to the NEPA process. Add your voice to this effort here.
Commitment to a cleaner future
- A carbon bomb is still operating in Alaska’s Arctic, and we need the Biden administration to defuse it. If approved by the administration, ConocoPhillips’ willow proposal The Western Arctic would be the largest oil and gas drilling project in the United States. The Biden administration has full legal authority to say “no” to this fossil-fueled development. Tell him to protect our public lands from polluted energy extraction.
- The Biden administration is expected to release a five-year plan for offshore drilling in federal waters. As we face a climate crisis, the only fair way is a plan that includes: no new charters in federal offshore waters. Such leases are filling the pockets of oil industry giants, who are already making booming profits, while unfairly placing the burden of harmful industrial pollution on Gulf communities. More fossil fuel development also means greater threats to marine life, such as the endangered Gulf of Mexico whale.
Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal for electricity, remains one of the largest industrial waste streams in the US This toxic waste pollutes groundwater in many communities and have numerous human health effects. We sued the EPA After the agency exempted half a billion tons of coal ash from inactive landfills from any federal health protection. The EPA needs to rewrite the rule that makes this possible and deliver on its promises to get coal plants to clean up toxic coal ash.
Tightening protections for people and the planet
- EPA periodically reviews it. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAKS). The agency has now begun to take important steps to set stricter standards that respond to growing scientific evidence of air pollution. The terrible toll on public health. The EPA proposed new standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5 or soot), but this recommendation came late and fell short. The EPA has yet to take any concrete steps to begin the process of strengthening national ozone (or smoke) standards needed to protect people, especially children, from asthma and other diseases. Strong action against both air pollutants should be a top priority for the agency and there is no time to waste.
- Management took action for security Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) is one of the coal industry lawsuits invited by the rule changes in the Trump administration. But current standards save so much 11,000 lives each year, still needs to be strengthened. Power plants are still allowed to emit unlimited amounts of certain harmful pollutants such as benzene and dioxins. A truly protective standard would create stronger pollution controls and require more consistent monitoring and maintenance of equipment. Help us tell management how much these changes are needed.
- Oil and gas operations emit large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about 20% of the planet’s warming. Besides methane, these operations release toxic pollutants that harm nearby communities. Reducing these emissions is critical to tackling climate change and environmental justice. Join us in the call to the EPA and the Bureau of Land Management. strengthen methane standards.
- The EPA should seize the next opportunity to develop trucking standards that make these big vehicles zero-emissions. Heavy-duty trucks are a major source of polluted diesel pollution and greenhouse gases across the country, especially in environmental justice communities that breathe port and freight pollution. It’s time to electrify trucks at the federal level.
Advancing environmental justice
- The administration created two new bodies focused on environmental justice. The White House Committee on Environmental Justice provides federal agencies with advice and consultation on environmental justice—advice that should be taken seriously. And the EPA created a new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. Given the power and resources it needs, this office can change the rules of the game.
- By applying the environmental justice lens, there are steps EPA can and should do without delay, including improving pollution monitoring and compliance provisions, truly tackling the cumulative effects of multiple pollution sources, and fully enforcing civil rights laws.
Implementation of major legal gains
- This Infrastructure Investments and Employment Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) represents great opportunities to invest significantly in climate solutions. The IRA alone allocates $369 billion for climate and justice. Earthjustice is working with partners to enforce laws to ensure these investments target communities at the forefront of the climate crisis and have a voice in projects that affect their health and well-being. Management should also invest taxpayer money in real solutions like clean energy and electrification, and reject false solutions that further solidify fossil fuel interests like petrochemicals, carbon capture and dirty hydrogen.
- This Clean School Bus Program The IIJA-initiated project got off to a bright start when the Biden administration awarded school districts 98% of the $1 billion in the initial funding round to purchase electric school buses. Management should increase funding going forward, especially for school districts in environmental justice communities.
- Biden administration and Congress, improve water infrastructure throughout the United States. We urge the administration to be transparent about spending, help ensure states distribute funding fairly, and focus funding on those who need it most: low-income communities and communities of color who desperately need infrastructure for clean water.
Filling key government gaps
- An empty Democratic seat Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) threatens to become a bottleneck in the clean energy transition. FERC drives energy investment and planning, making it a major player in how quickly the United States is giving up on burning fossil fuels. appoint judges lower courts. The Senate approved 97 of its candidates in last Congress, 75% of whom are women and 68% of whom are non-white. That means real progress in rebalancing the federal courts after a series of Trump appointments. As Democrats retain control of the Senate, we urge senators to continue to endorse Biden’s successful and diverse judicial nominees to the federal tribune.
We have a once-in-a-lifetime moment to prevent irreparable damage to our planet and protect communities that have long suffered from pollution. President Biden has driven the most ambitious climate agenda in history, and he has two more years in his administration to deliver on those promises. The good news is that management has the tools to make those promises come true.