Tougher vehicle emissions requirements finalized by EPA


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | December 28, 2021

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized tougher vehicle emissions requirements, reversing former President Donald Trump-era policies.

The new requirements shift the country to look towards electric vehicles and reducing pollution significantly over the next five years. The rules will decrease carbon dioxide emissions from vehicle by 3.1 billion tons through 2050, according to Reuters. The EPA’s guidelines coincide with the goals of President Joe Biden’s administration. Biden wants to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. to around 50 percent by 2030. He also has been pushing for stricter fuel efficiency standards, like former President Barack Obama did in the early 2010s.

In 2020, Trump rolled back Obama’s efficiency standards by 3.5 percent. The switch made is so vehicles in the U.S. only had to average 40.4 miles per gallon rather than nearly 47 miles per gallon by 2026 under Obama’s regulations.

The new EPA standards will take effect in the 2023 model year. The Alliances for Automotive Innovation, an auto trade association, said the new requirements will result in an increase in electrical vehicles and incentives from the government for consumers to switch to purchasing those cars. When announcing the finalization, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the standards were “doable” even if they are tough. He said he wants to move ahead to the next round of requirements soon.

“We are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressively reduce the pollution that is harming people and our planet,” Regan said.

Democrats push Biden to take stronger action regarding gas, oil policies


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | December 7, 2021

U.S. House Democrats are asking President Joe Biden to take stronger action to restrict oil and gas production in the country.

Members of the House Natural Resources Committee are split with Democrats asking for limiting production and Republicans saying the reduction of U.S. emissions will only heighten global emissions from suppliers overseas. Biden has also been asked by environmental activists to permanently ban gas and oil leasing on federal lands, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-California, chairs the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee. He said the proposals coming from the administration are welcome, but do not assess the entire situation regarding climate change. He said it’s a “missed opportunity” and a “critical issue” that has yet to be addressed.

The conversation in the committee came quickly after a report was released by the U.S. Interior Department asking for fiscal updates the federal gas and oil leasing programs. The recommendation from the November report was to increase fees for explorations on federal land. The report did not suggest limiting or halting leasing programs.

Biden’s policy currently is to increase the fee cost for such leases. According to the Associated Press, Biden recommended hiking up federal royalty rates for drilling. The current rate is 12.5 percent, and the rate has not changed in over a century. It is unclear if Biden will reassess his policy based on remarks from climate activists and fellow Democrats.

Build Back Better bill with climate funding passes House, moves to senate


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | November 23, 2021

The House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better bill narrowly on Friday. The bill sets aside billions for fighting climate change across the U.S.

The legislation creates initiatives to combat climate change broadly, including the electrification of the U.S. Postal Service’s cars and the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, according to USA Today. This bill passed after President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package on Nov. 15. The infrastructure bill gave $555 billion to global warming mitigation alone.

The Build Back Better bill invests money into renewable energy and electric vehicles alongside funding initiatives to clean up pollution. The pollution program specifically helps Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other communities of color that have been on the front lines of toxic pollution, according to The Center for American Progress. $160 billion is invested in looking at environmental injustice and inequity in these communities.

There are also a few climate-based tax credits created by the legislation, including a 10-year credit for clean electricity generating capacity and a transmission investment credit that looks to upgrade the U.S. power grid.

Alongside the Civilian Climate Corps, the act creates a Rural Partnership Program. The program will receive $1 billion to empower rural communities to build their economies to continue helping rural American become more climate-conscious.

The Build Back Better bill isn’t strictly investing in fighting climate change. The bill also invests in preschool education, an expansion of Medicare coverage, lowering prescription drug costs, and health care subsidies for low-income Americans among other initiatives.

Biden meets with Western states, plans for harsh wildfire season


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | July 1, 2021

President Joe Biden met with governors from Western states on Wednesday to discuss the record-breaking heat wave their states face this summer. He said climate change is what is driving the increased threat of wildfires on the coast.

Governors from California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming met with the president. Portland, Oregon, set a record-high temperature three days in a row this week. Seattle, Washington, also saw high temperatures, hitting 108 degrees, eight below Portland’s high. The heat is causing some medical emergencies and sudden deaths in states, according to CNN.

This was the first meeting of its kind, however, there are annual meetings between the Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and presidents to discuss the Atlantic hurricane season. The wildfire season this year is shaping up to be devastating. Biden said the states are “playing catch-up” when it comes to counteracting these fires and their root causes, calling the area “under-resourced.”

The National Interagency Fire Center estimated more than 1 million acres in Western states have burned already this year.

At the meeting, Biden announced his plans to create an incentive program for firefighters to improve recruitment and retention. The administration also plans to expand the federal government’s wildfire prevention and response.

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.