Biden's climate plan will require creativity and persuasion
Joe Biden's first remarks as president-elect Saturday claimed a mandate to act on climate. But making good will require tough lawyers, creativity, luck and persuasion.
The big picture: His new transition website puts climate among the four top priorities alongside COVID-19, the economy and racial justice.
- But with Democrats facing long odds of winning the Senate, Biden won't get a sweeping climate bill unless the GOP posture changes radically and surprisingly.
Why it matters: That leaves Biden with a plan that's very aggressive — big goals include 100% carbon-free power by 2035 — but heavily reliant on executive powers.
Driving the news: Experts and advocates are quickly weighing in on what Biden should do with those powers and perhaps small openings to work with Congress.
Jason Bordoff, head of a Columbia University energy think tank, offers a primer in Foreign Policy magazine on the many things presidents can do without Congress, which of course includes regulations but also...
- Expanding renewables leasing on public lands; using procurement (including the energy-thirsty military) to drive clean tech adoption; appointing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members who will set market rules that favor low-carbon sources, and more.
Quick take: Here's where the creativity, luck, persuasion and lawyers come in.
- His plans will require a creative government-wide approach, which means not just the usual actors like EPA, but also agencies like, say, HUD (more on that below).
- Biden's going to face ferocious legal battles as he looks to use existing powers under the Clean Air Act and other laws to craft far-reaching rules and restrictions around vehicle emissions, public lands drilling and more.
- On the persuasion front, the need for new economic recovery measures will provide some opportunities for working with Congress on clean energy and climate-friendly infrastructure support.
- Also on the persuasion front, Bordoff (an Obama-era White House aide) says Biden can use the executive's foreign policy domain for things like promoting collaboration on clean energy trade and creating a multilateral agreement on methane emissions.
This Washington Post story gets to how Biden's plan will rely on looking government-wide for policy ideas...
- "Biden’s advisers have said that they plan to elevate climate change as a priority in departments that have not always treated it as one, including the Transportation, State and Treasury departments."
- "It will influence key appointments, affecting everything from overseas banking and military bases to domestic roads and farms."