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Balance of Power Shifts as Biden, Georgia Senators Take Office

Analysis from PESA Vice President Government Affairs Tim Tarpley

On Wednesday, Joseph R. Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. The new Georgia senators also took their oaths, officially changing the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Details of the power-sharing agreement are still being finalized, but we expect committee membership and staff to be split 50/50 with all committees chaired by Democrats with Sen. Chuck Schumer serving as Majority Leader.

At time of writing, we are waiting to see text of the expected executive orders. From what we know now, this is what to expect in first few ways of the Biden Administration:

  • Launch a “100 Days Masking Challenge” and leading by example in the federal government
  • Re-Engage with the World Health Organization to make Americans and the world safer
  • Structure the federal government to Coordinate a Unified National Response [to Covid-19]
  • Extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums
  • Extend student loan pause
  • Rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change
  • Roll back President Trump’s environmental actions to protect public health and the environment and restore science
  • Launch a whole-of-government initiative to advance racial equity
  • Reverse President Trump’s executive order excluding undocumented immigrants from the reapportionment count
  • Preserve and fortify protections for dreamers
  • Reverse the Muslim travel ban
  • Repeal of President Trump’s Interior enforcement executive order
  • Stop border wall construction
  • Defer enforced departure for Liberians
  • Preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Executive branch personnel ethics executive order
  • Regulatory process executive order and presidential memorandum
  • End Keystone XL Pipeline and revoke oil and gas development at national wildlife monuments

Several of these executive orders will be relevant to the OFS sector. The first is the U.S. rejoining the Paris Agreement. John Kerry led negotiations under the Obama Administration and will serve as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate in the Biden Administration. Re-entering the Agreement will take 30 days, and Kerry is likely to run point on the implementation.

Additionally, the executive orders will discard or redo approximately 100 of President Trump’s proclamations, memoranda or permits. We won’t know full implications until we see the complete list, but we expect President Biden’s actions to include revocation of the permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, which will essentially kill the project.

Developers will probably file lawsuits to challenge the Biden Administration’s action, but they’re unlikely to succeed. President Trump pushed the project during his first week in office after the Obama Administration had turned it down, but environmental groups, Native American tribes and landowners stalled the project with litigation.

President Biden is also expected to reverse the Trump Administration’s 2020 decision to allow development on Obama-era designated wildlife protection monuments. The possibility of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas will be limited or entirely reversed.

Also included in President Biden’s plans is an order directing federal agencies to consider revising vehicle fuel and emissions standards, and creating federal working groups to deal with greenhouse gas emissions.

PESA will keep our Members up to date as we gain more clarity of the scope of these executive orders.

For more information about PESA’s advocacy efforts, contact Vice President Government Affairs Tim Tarpley.