Biden pushes to expand electric vehicles market


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | August 6, 2021

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday that aims to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 electric.

The administration has been looking at ways to decrease the United States greenhouse gas emissions since her entered office in January. The executive order is part of the administration’s goals to fight climate change. Alongside increasing the amount of electric vehicles on the road, Biden announced a proposal for new vehicle emission standards with increased stringency beginning in the 2023 model year.

While the executive order’s target is not legally binding, Reuters reported that Chrysler parent Stellantis NV, Ford Motors, and General Motors are planning to achieve 40 or 50% sales on electric vehicles by 2030.

Other brands intend to move to only electric vehicles by the 2030 deadline, like Volvo. According to CNBC, other companies, like General Motors, are aspiring to similar goals in the next 20 years.

During the Obama administration, a previous goal was set regarding the number of electric vehicles to be sold by 2015. The goal of 1 million vehicles fell short with only 400,000 sold.

Some elected officials from Iowa are asking Biden to consider prioritizing biofuels instead of electric vehicles. Senator Joni Ernst tweeted that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50%. The Biden administration has not responded to any biofuels inquiries since the executive order’s announcement.

Biden’s Actions that Pertain to Combatting Climate Change


Via CNN

Maxwell Bernstein | January 29, 2021

Tackling climate change, combating racial inequality, improving pandemic response, and restoring the economy have been top priorities for the Biden administration as reported by Iowa Environmental Focus. The administration has signed 22 executive orders in his first week in office, more than any past president has in the same period according to a CBS network affiliate. NBC has released a full list of Biden’s executive actions since Jan. 20. Here is a filtered list that focuses on Biden’s actions that pertain to combatting climate change. 

Day 1: 

  • Executive order to rejoin the Paris agreement on climate change after the Trump administration left the Paris agreement in Nov. of 2020. 
  • Executive order to refocus on climate change and revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. In this action, the Biden administration also paused oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 

Day 8: 

  • Executive order to initiate Biden’s plan to tackle climate change. 
  • A memorandum on scientific integrity. Agencies that perform research must, “ensure agency research programs are scientifically and technologically well-founded and conducted with integrity.”
  • Executive order to re-establish presidential advisory council on science and technology. 

President Biden Signs Orders to Address the Climate Crisis on His First Day in Office


Via Flickr

Nicole Welle | January 21, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. followed through on his promise to begin reversing Donald Trump’s environmental rollbacks on his first day in office yesterday by singing multiple executive orders and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate agreement.

In his inaugural address, Biden stressed the importance of rebuilding alliances and trust with other countries, and he hopes that rejoining the Paris agreement will help to move the country closer to that goal. Biden also used his first day to sign executive orders to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, reverse the Trump administration’s rollbacks to vehicle emissions standards, place a temporary moratorium on oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and re-establish a working group tasked with evaluating the social cost of greenhouse gases, according to a New York Times article.

Biden has placed tackling climate issues at the top of his list of priorities along with combating racial inequality, improving the country’s pandemic response and restoring the economy. Environmentalists are celebrating the president’s urgency in addressing these issues, but analysts and Biden himself have stressed that his executive orders alone will not be enough to adequately address the climate crisis. Biden set a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and congress will need to pass new environmental legislation soon to make reaching that goal possible. However, aggressive climate policies aimed at cutting the country’s emissions could face opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats in congress.

Biden’s executive orders reversing some of the Trump administration’s harmful environmental rollbacks will set the country on a positive path towards addressing the harmful effects of climate change. However, it could take years to undo the rest of Trump’s actions and replace his rollbacks with new environmental regulations. Some Republicans and powerful business groups will likely oppose the process, so any future legislation will likely require some level of bipartisan support.

Trump Signs an Executive Order Waiving Environmental Reviews for Key Construction Projects


Via Flickr

Nicole Welle | June 8, 2020

The current economic “emergency” caused by COVID-19 gave President Trump the ability to sign an order on Thursday that allows federal agencies to waive environmental reviews for the approval of major construction projects.

The president used a section of federal law that allows “action with significant environmental impact” without observing the usual requirements set by laws like the Endangered Species Act and the National Environment Policy Act. These laws normally require agencies to analyze how decisions on construction projects could negatively impact the environment, according to a Washington Post article.

The executive order will speed up approval for the construction of highways, pipelines, mines and other federal projects. In the order, the president stated that the normal regulatory processes required by law would keep Americans out of work and hinder economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this decision could lead to increased negative environmental impacts and harm plant and animal life in construction areas.

Many conservation groups are concerned that this could also lead to further dismantling of environmental laws in the future. However, while some companies could benefit from these changes in the near future, they also may be reluctant to rely on the order out of fear of legal backlash from environmental and public interest groups. Some companies may also hesitate to use the order to push projects forward since they would likely need to show proof that they were operating in an emergency.

Gov. Reynolds supports biofuel industry with Tuesday exec. order


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A bus displays that it runs on biodiesel (via Creative Commons). 

Julia Poska | December 4, 2019

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed an executive order declaring that future diesel engine vehicles purchased by the state must be able to use 20% biodiesel Tuesday at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting.

The Iowa Department of Transportation fleet has already been using B20 biodiesel since 1994, a press release  said. While the order may not drastically change Iowa’s existing vehicle purchase tendencies, it is a gesture of support to an industry long dissatisfied with federal biofuel policies.

Iowa farmers and others have for months expressed displeasure with the Trump administration’s repeated Renewable Fuel Standard exemptions to oil refineries. The exemptions undercut what would otherwise be guaranteed demand for biofuel, and several failed ethanol plants have blamed the exemptions for their closure.

Environmentalists and other stakeholders argue about the environmental benefits of ethanol and biodiesel. The fuels reduce fossil fuel use and emissions but are produced through resource-intensive agriculture, which expends almost as much energy as the fuels store.

The fuels are pivotal to Iowa’s economy regardless. A Des Moines Register article about the executive order said Iowa is the nation’s biggest ethanol and biodiesel producer.