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President Biden Holds Climate Day, Signs Executive Orders

Analysis by PESA Vice President Government Affairs Tim Tarpley

President Biden held Climate Day on January 27, a week after his inauguration, which aims to tackle climate change and coordinate environmental actions by federal agencies. He signed three orders:

  • Tackling the Climate Crisis At Home and Abroad Executive Order
  • Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum
  • Executive Order Establishing the President’s Council of Advisors On Science And Technology

The Scientific Integrity memo directs agencies to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data. The third order reestablishes the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST will be led by President’s Science Advisor, Eric Lander.

The first and most extensive order addressing the “climate crisis at home and abroad” covers a wide swath of U.S. federal agencies and energy issues, and lays out the president’s plan for a net-zero economy. The order establishes several new working groups, offices and task forces:

White House

  • White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy
    • Led by National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy
  • President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
    • Led by President’s Science Advisor Eric Lander
    • Co-Chairs of PCAST Frances Arnold and Maria Zuber
  • National Climate Task Force
  • White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council
  • White House Environmental Justice Interagency Advisory Council

Creation of these working groups and task forces indicate the Administration’s intent to move towards a multi-agency approach to climate legislation led by Gina McCarthy and John Kerry. 

This strategy suggests threats to our industry could come from multiple locations, not just traditional agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior. As this new infrastructure takes shape, PESA will continue to engage and analyze the implications of all actions taken by these new entities. 

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
The order establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and Advisory Council that seeks to address current and historical environmental injustices and strengthen environmental justice monitoring and enforcement.

These panels will be staffed with personnel from the EPA, Department of Justice, and Department of Health and Human Services. The Department of Justice will establish an office of climate justice. This new office will likely take the lead on litigation against oil and gas companies and related industries. 

EMISSIONS, CLIMATE CHANGE AND PARIS AGREEMENT
The White House plans to release its emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement by Earth Day, which is April 22.

The president’s order directs the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change; the State Department to prepare a transmittal package to the Senate for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol; and all agencies to develop strategies for integrating climate considerations into their international work.

While not an entirely new approach, the merging of national security and climate policy is something to watch closely. Findings from this analysis could be used to justify further climate action and support declaration of a national climate emergency, which could provide agencies with additional emergency powers. 

PESA’s statement regarding the Executive Order directing the Department of Interior to pause new oil and gas leases on federal lands can be found here.

PESA will continue to monitor federal actions and advocate for the oilfield services and equipment sector. If you would like to engage on these issues further, please reach out to Vice President Government Affairs, Tim Tarpley.

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