President Biden Executive Actions on Climate

Jan 28, 2021

An executive order signed by President Biden this week calls for elevating climate policy to be an “essential element” of American foreign policy and national security. The order begins the process of determining the U.S. emission reduction target under the Paris Agreement—which the U.S. rejoined last week—and formally establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, among other things. This executive order reflects the climate change priorities that President Biden outlined during his campaign and will build on the target the United States initially pledged when joining the Paris Agreement in 2015.
Important to agriculture, the order directs USDA to involve the agriculture sector in the federal government’s efforts and highlights the importance of the American agriculture industry as it relates to renewable energy and carbon sequestration.
Specifically, it directs USDA, “to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans,” according to a fact sheet released by the White House. This directive is in line with recommendations made to the Biden Administration from former Obama-era agricultural advisers to actively engage with agriculture stakeholders about how to best address climate change mitigation within their industry.
As outlined in the fact sheet, the order also calls for, “the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.” This climate-focused corps is envisioned to function similarly to the program created by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression.
Biden commented this week that, “When we think of renewable energy…we see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.”
The Interior Department is being directed, “to pause new oil and natural gas leasing on public lands and offshore waters, concurrent with a comprehensive review of the federal oil and gas program,” DOI reported in a separate fact sheet. DOI said it will, “identify steps to accelerate responsible development of renewable energy on public lands and waters, including setting a goal to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030. The department will immediately begin a review of processes and procedures to date as it re-invests in a rigorous renewable energy program.”
Biden is requesting a “whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis,” including the establishment of a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, which creates “a central office in the White House that is charged with coordinating and implementing the President’s domestic climate agenda.” The executive order also establishes a National Climate Task Force, which will include leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments.
The order sets a 30x30 goal, seeking to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030, and according to the White House, “launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, states, territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation.”