“Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.”
— President Joe Biden in his inaugural address
“Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed / A nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.”
— Amanda Gorman in her poem “The Hill We Climb,” written for and delivered at Inauguration
“I thanked the creator. And I just sat on my couch and looked at my grandson and just cried. Everything I do is for our future generations.”
— Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, on learning of President Biden’s day one executive order imposing a temporary moratorium on all oil and gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
LCV’s affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fighting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:
FOX 31 Denver (CO): President Biden signs executive orders on climate, immigration
The Detroit News (MI): Five ways Michigan might be affected by new Biden administration
Alaska Public Radio (AK): After attending Capitol siege, coalition calls on Rep. Eastman to resign
Roanoke Times (VA): Mountain Valley Pipeline faces stiff local opposition
INAUGURATION: Exactly two weeks after our seat of government withstood an insurrection incited by the 45th president, the world watched the peaceful and uplifting inauguration of the 46th president, Joe Biden, and the history-making swearing in of Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black person, South Asian American, and woman to serve in the role. From Biden’s address to poet Amanda Gorman’s words to the executive orders signed just following the ceremony, the new administration set a tone of unity and hopeful governance, the tone of an administration that has internalized the very real challenges our country faces and is ready to actively move our hurting country forward. And as the Biden-Harris administration tackles the four intertwined crises of our time — the pandemic, economic inequity, racial injustice and climate change — LCV has summarized our policy priorities, for both the administration and Congress, here.
OUR INAUGURATION TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “It’s a new day for people and the planet. With President Biden and Vice President Harris in the White House, and an all star team of climate experts behind them that reflects the diversity of America, we are finally on a path forward to a more equitable and just clean energy future. As our nation continues to face four interconnected crises — the pandemic, a broken economy, racial injustice, and climate change — it is an overwhelming relief that the Biden administration is now on the job and leading from the get-go.”
OUR DAY ONE EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “We commend President Biden for taking immediate action on climate today, including rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement; stopping the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline; reversing Trump’s rollbacks of commonsense environmental protections; and more executive actions that provide relief to families suffering from the crises impacting our nation and move us forward on climate and environmental justice.
“We are excited about these Day One actions and look forward to much more progress in the days and weeks to come as the new administration ramps up its all-of-government approach to climate action, environmental justice, a clean energy economy, and a healthy democracy. The record number of voters who overcame historic barriers to elect President Biden and Vice President Harris are counting on it.”
MORE ON THOSE DAY ONE EOS: After four years of the Trump administration prioritizing polluters over people’s health and wellbeing — and a whole slew of midnight rollbacks — the brand new Biden-Harris administration has already begun to dismantle Trump’s dangerous, inequitable and racist legacy through a set of immediate climate and environmental justice executive actions. This is just the start; we expect more executive orders in coming weeks, and have outlined critical policy priorities for the administration and Congress here.
PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT: We’re thrilled President Biden has recommitted the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, reasserted our leadership on the world stage, and has pledged to go further and mobilize every major country to make deeper cuts in their own carbon emissions. This is a massive step forward for international progress to address the growing climate and biodiversity crises.
KEYSTONE XL BE GONE: We are so excited that President Biden moved forward on climate action and environmental justice starting on Day One. Putting a stop to the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline is an important first step and testament to the leadership of the diverse grassroots movement that has long pushed to stop it and other harmful pipelines.
FREEZE + UNDO TRUMP REGULATORY NONSENSE: We commend President Biden for taking swift action to freeze and undo the Trump administration’s dangerous rollbacks of more than 100 critical environmental protections — including methane standards for the oil and gas industry, clean car rules, keeping sewage and chemicals out of waterways, and more — and prioritize public health over the wishes of oil and gas industry CEOs. Furthermore, the Biden administration has indicated that, moving forward in rulemaking processes, environmental justice and protections will be key considerations.
BORDER WALL OUT: Good riddance to Trump’s plans to continue building his xenophobic, racist, and environmentally destructive border wall. Trump’s planned wall threatened communities living along our southern border, had far ranging negative impacts on our lands, wildlife and waterways, and circumvented bedrock environmental laws. Thank you, President Biden, for putting a halt to Trump’s hateful, inhumane wall.
DACA FOR DREAMERS: This is a human rights victory — we’re proud to stand with the immigrant youth and community leaders who have fought tirelessly to protect their families. Thank you, President Biden, for protecting Dreamers and ensuring a path to citizenship. All people who call the United States home must have the safety, stability, and legal means to fully participate and contribute to their communities and our nation.
ARCTIC REFUGE DRILLING HALTED: We’re incredibly relieved that President Biden has halted the process to drill in the majestic Arctic Refuge after the Trump administration undertook a rushed leasing process to hand the area over to the oil industry at fire sale prices. We stand in solidarity with the Gwich’in people in the fight to protect the land they call “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” We look forward to building on this fantastic first step and urge the Biden administration and Congress to do everything in their power to permanently protect this sacred and pristine landscape that is ground zero for the impacts of climate change.
NATIONAL MONUMENTS COMING BACK: We’re delighted that the Biden administration is taking this important first step to restore protections for the Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments that the Trump administration unlawfully sought to diminish. President Biden committed his administration to heeding scientists’ call to protect at least 30% of this country’s land and ocean as a vital response to the climate crisis and the steep decline in nature. We’re thrilled that he’s kickstarting his ambitious and inclusive conservation agenda on day one and look forward to him moving quickly to restore protections for these lands that are sacred to tribes and this ocean area that provides a buffer for marine life against the worst impacts of climate change.
S.1 FOR THE PEOPLE: On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Senator Amy Klobuchar designated S.1, the honorary first bill of the 117th Congress, the For the People Act matching H.R.1 in the House. This critical piece of legislation will put protections in place to strengthen our democracy by protecting the right to vote, fixing the broken campaign finance system, and enacting sweeping ethics reform to address corruption — and after the violent insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, legislation like this is more important than ever.
OUR TAKE: LCV’s Judiciary Director Ben Driscoll had this to say: “We are thrilled to see the incoming Senate leadership name the For the People Act S.1., solidifying democracy reform as a top priority in the 117th Congress alongside the House. Following the violent insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and the 2020 election and its aftermath, the need to protect the right to vote and ensure elected officials are held accountable to the people has never been more important. LCV applauds Leader Schumer, Senator Merkley and Senator Klobuchar for their leadership on this critical issue. It’s clear that a healthy democracy and a healthy environment are inextricably linked, and the communities frequently targeted by voter suppression — people of color, young people, those who have a disability, and indigenous people — face the burden of environmental harms that threaten our air, water, and climate.” Read the full statement here.
A NEW SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: A lot of exciting things happened Wednesday and one of the best was when Senate leadership was officially handed over to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer following the swearing in of Senators Jon Ossoff, Alex Padilla, and Raphael Warnock. We now have a pro-environment trifecta and it feels really good.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said, “Elections have consequences, and over the past few months voters took a stand against Mitch McConnell’s failed leadership in the U.S. Senate. Now for the first time since 2010, pro-environment congressional leaders in both chambers have a clear path for transformational climate action. Between the new pro-environment majority in the Senate, the pro-environment majority in the House, and the Biden-Harris Administration, there is broad alignment on the solution to the interwoven crises facing our nation. We can’t wait for the new pro-environment trifecta to get to work tackling the climate crisis, racial injustice, the pandemic, and economic inequality and creating a cleaner, more equitable and just future for all.” Read the full statement here.
APPEALS COURT ACE: Just days before Trump left office, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down his administration’s inadequate replacement of Obama’s Clean Power Plan — the so-called “Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.” The court, in its ruling, called the rule “arbitrary and capricious,” said it failed to provide adequate environmental and health protections, and instructed the EPA to start over with an entirely new approach. The court’s decision provides Biden’s EPA the opportunity to develop more aggressive carbon pollution standards for power plants without having to undo the Trump rule. This is a step toward protecting our air, cutting the pollution that contributes to climate change, and, for the first time in four years, prioritizing the wellbeing of people across the country instead of polluters.
100% CLEAN ELECTRICITY, ROUND 2 (MN): Gov. Tim Walz is again pushing for zero-emission clean electricity — and setting tougher goals this time — after an earlier effort fizzled in the Minnesota Legislature amid Republican opposition.
The governor’s call for 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 is the focus of a set of climate change proposals as the state works to hit Minnesota’s targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The state’s latest inventory of emissions shows that as a whole, Minnesota is already far behind on those goals.
DOUBLING DOWN ON CLEAN TECH (NV): During Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s State of the State address he announced a new coronavirus economic recovery plan, which includes significant clean energy storage goals that aim to make clean energy more accessible across the state. Governor Sisolak tweeted, “Nevada is already a leader in renewable energy, generating billions of dollars in investment and employing tens of thousands of our people. Now we are perfectly poised to lead the world in energy storage.”
Tuesday, January 26th: Equity Executive Actions Expected
Wednesday, January 27th: Climate Executive Actions Expected
Wednesday, January 27th: Gov. Granholm confirmation hearing
Friday, January 29th: Immigration Executive Actions Expected