| USA TODAY
Joe Biden vows to be ‘president for all Americans’ at inauguration
President Joe Biden pledged to be “a president for all Americans” in his 21-minute inauguration speech.
When it comes to the environment, President Joe Biden hit the ground running, literally minutes into his term.
“A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” Biden said in his inaugural address. “A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now.”
The new president on Wednesday, in his first hours in the White House, officially rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change, a treaty the United States formally exited in November after President Donald Trump withdrew in 2017.
Also on his first day in office, Biden canceled the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline to move oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, rescinding Trump’s approval of a project long criticized by environmentalists.
He also ordered a temporary moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in what had been virgin Arctic wilderness and directed federal agencies to start looking at tougher mileage standards and other emission limits again.
Here’s a closer look at Biden’s actions:
Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement
Environmentalists applauded Biden’s move on the Paris climate pact.
“President Biden’s swift action to rejoin the Paris Agreement will be the first step to bring the United States back into the fold of the global community after four years of being isolated and on the sidelines,” Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement.
“With communities in the U.S. and around the world reeling from a terrible spate of climate disasters in 2020, it’s a relief that the incoming administration has pledged to have science guide their decision-making in addressing the climate crisis,” she said.
Scientists and world leaders say the Paris Agreement’s plans for reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide will prevent a major increase in global temperatures. That increase is projected to raise sea levels, spark major droughts and lead to more dangerous storms.
Another expert, Mitchell Bernard, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement Wednesday that “this is swift and decisive action. It makes the United States once more part of the global climate solution – not the problem.”
However, Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, said “the Paris climate agreement is based on the backward idea that the United States is a culprit here when in reality, the United States is the leading driver of climate solutions.”
Why is it called the Paris Agreement?: The name has nothing to do with ‘citizens of Paris’ as Ted Cruz tweeted
Scrapping the Keystone XL pipeline
The 1,700-mile Keystone pipeline was planned to carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The Natural Resources Defense Council said, “the scrapping of this disastrous project will support both Canadian and U.S. climate objectives by stalling the expansion of the tar sands climate catastrophe and reducing North America’s reliance on dirty fuels.”
But North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer urged Biden to reconsider the pipeline decision, calling it an “early mistake by the president and a nod to far-left environmental extremists.”
Revoking oil and gas development at national wildlife monuments
New climate adviser Gina McCarthy explained to CBS News that the Biden administration will discard or redo more than 100 “harmful” presidential proclamations, memoranda, or permits signed by Trump that the new administration views as detrimental to the environment.
Also referring to the Paris Agreement, Penn State University meteorologist Michael Mann told USA TODAY that “these actions are extremely important, being both symbolic and substantive. They are symbolic in that they signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. is back. We’re ready once again to assert leadership on the climate crisis.
“But they are substantive, too, in that they use two of the most important lever-arms we have when it comes to climate action, which include international diplomacy and domestic policy,” Mann said.
Considering revising vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards
Biden also aims to reduce harmful emissions from cars, trucks and SUVs.
Specifically, the new administration intends to undo one of Trump’s biggest changes: His gutting of Obama-era fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for automobiles through 2025. But the regulatory slog could take a couple of years unless Trump’s rollbacks are thrown out by the courts. Biden will also likely reverse Trump’s decision to revoke California’s ability to set its own pollution standards.
Contributing: The Associated Press