Biden could declare emergency climate actions: "We need to act"

Somerset, Massachusetts - President Joe Biden could force the issue on climate action by declaring a state of climate emergency, which could be the only option left after Senator Joe Manchin sank his own party's efforts to pass climate legislation.

Declaring a state of climate emergency would open the door to immediate climate action.
Declaring a state of climate emergency would open the door to immediate climate action.  © REUTERS

Biden's used a speech in Somerset, Massachusetts, on Wednesday to speak about his plans for getting the country in gear and ready to take on the climate crisis, per PBS.

"As president, I'll use my executive powers to combat the climate crisis, in the absence of congressional action," he announced.

"In the coming days, my administration will announce the executive actions we have developed to combat this emergency."

The move is necessary, according to climate scientists around the world. And because one single Democratic senator is blocking meaningful action, it's up to the executive branch of our government to make a move.

An anonymous White House official told Reuters that President Biden will take action if Congress doesn't and that the administration is "considering all options"

Biden finished his speech by excusing inaction when we didn't know any better, but called for immediate action by saying, "Folks, we have no excuse now. We know it. We can make things better in terms of jobs, we can make things better in terms of the environment, and we can make things better for families overall. So, I'm looking forward to this movement."

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Executive climate action menu

President Biden could push through climate action after Congress stalls out.
President Biden could push through climate action after Congress stalls out.  © REUTERS

Some of the measures Biden singled out for potential executive orders include:

  • increased funding for renewable energy generation
  • funding to help local communities tackle flooding
  • support for electricity infrastructure (utilities, power lines, appliances)
  • support for families so they can afford heating and air conditioning

As far as bigger, sweeping goals, like ramping up green energy, one main potential course of action open to the president is declaring a state of emergency due to climate change, which would trigger the Defense Production Act.

The act could then be used to scale up renewable energy production and installation across the country, and overhaul our energy infrastructure.

In February, the non-profit organization Center for Biological Diversity released a detailed legal guide for how Biden could use his executive powers to take action on the climate crisis, and their suggestions hinge on a state of emergency and the use of Executive Orders.

A state of climate emergency could let Biden halt oil imports, exploration and drilling for fossil fuels, drastically reduce how much cash flows into the coffers of fossil fuel companies.

It all depends on how far the White House is willing to go to take action on the "clear and present danger."

The Biden Administration and climate scientists agree that the biggest step towards stopping climate change is kicking our fossil fuel habit, and that means ramping up green energy like solar and wind farms with batteries as fast as possible. To stay on track with President Biden's goals of cutting emissions 50% by 2030 and getting to 100% clean electricity by 2035, action needs to happen immediately.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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