The head of the White House signed some executive orders to combat climate change.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a series of executive orders to combat climate change. This includes suspending the conclusion of new contracts for the lease of federal land for oil and gas production and reducing subsidies for fossil fuels.
The executive orders set the direction of the president’s environmental agenda, contrasting with the policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who sought to maximize US oil, gas, and coal production by lifting regulatory restrictions and easing environmental standards.
Biden’s focus on climate change has emboldened international partners and environmentalists. Still, it has angered major oil companies who say the moves will cost the country millions of jobs and billions of dollars.
Biden instructed the Department of the Interior to suspend new contracts for oil and gas production on federal lands and in coastal waters and to analyze the impact of the program on the climate and taxpayers.
The executive orders affect large swathes of land-mostly in western states and waters where offshore drilling is underway, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico. They together account for about a quarter of the country’s oil and gas production. The initiative has drawn criticism from states in which drilling revenue plays a large role in the economy.
As previously reported in a White House press release, one of the president’s initiatives is to instruct federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
Special Climate Envoy John Kerry outlined the planned measures during the World Economic Forum’s virtual summit in Davos on Wednesday, saying the initiatives underscore the centrality of combating climate change to Biden’s political agenda.
John Hess, CEO of energy company Hess Corp, urged the administration to consider the possible consequences of the above initiatives for the labor market and energy security.
“They need to be aware that oil and gas are the strategic engines of the US economy… oil and gas play a key role in the economic recovery,” Hess said.
Bob Watson, CEO of Abraxas Petroleum, said he was concerned about the impact of the planned measures on the economy in the current crisis.
Biden is also criticized by liberals from his own party, who demand more decisive action to combat climate change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday called on Biden to declare a national emergency over the issue, which would allow the president to use additional resources to achieve his goals.
The new executive orders also announce that the administration plans to hold an international climate summit on Earth Day (April 22), create new positions and an interagency task force on climate change, as well as increase public procurement of green energy and vehicles produced in the United States, stimulate scientific and technological development and provide assistance to communities most affected by industrial pollution.
Among Biden’s new initiatives is a request to state agencies to develop policies to address the disproportionate impact on health, the environment, the economy, and the climate in poor and minority neighborhoods.