December 21, 2020

What Will The Biden Administration Do On Energy And The Environment?

President-elect Joe Biden last week announced the names of the individuals who will oversee energy and climate change policy. They are:

  • Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy;
  • Current U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to be secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior;
  • Michael Regan, secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, to be administration of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • Brenda Mallory to chair the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality; and
  • Former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to serve as national climate adviser (a new position.

According to Politico, Christy Goldfuss, who heads the progressive Center for American Progress’ energy and environment program, said, “If you look across the expertise, the vision and passion of this team, you have to be optimistic that we are going to make progress in addressing climate change.”

What does that mean, practically? ClearView Energy Partners told Axios that they “do not anticipate radical interventions, such as an invocation of a ‘climate emergency’ to shut down pipelines and oil exports, but do expect tighter performance standards, higher regulatory hurdles, longer permitting timelines and fewer approvals of federal fossil energy infrastructure permits.”

In remarks on December 12, according to The New York Times, the President-elect said he intends to make tackling climate change a cornerstone of his coronavirus recovery action, calling for 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations, the construction of 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units, and the creation of a “civilian climate corps” to carry out climate and conservation projects. He also said he would work to restore many of the stricter Obama-era environmental regulations that President Donald Trump rolled back.

On energy, Resources magazine explains, the president-elect prefers “a more moderate stance” that understands “it cannot eliminate fossil fuel–based electricity by 2050.” Instead, the magazine said, the Biden administration is likely to:

  • Recommend speeding the deployment of carbon capture, sequestration, and storage technologies applied to power plants;
  • Eliminate subsidies to fossil energy;
  • Tightening appliance and building efficiency standards;
  • Push for greener industrial products through government procurement stipulations; and
  • Create an aggressive research and develop programs for fuel innovation, including for hydrogen, modular nuclear energy, and biofuels.

In related news: last week, leaders from the European Union agreed to cut their collective greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, as compared with 1990 levels and China promised to reduce its carbon intensity by more than 65 percent.