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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.

  • They'll begin what will be a years-long, politically and legally fraught process to both reverse Trump's policies and implement Biden's own agenda.

What's new, per Biden's team: An executive order coming Wednesday will include:

  • Ordering "all" departments and agencies to "take appropriate action" against all Trump-era rules and policies that Biden officials deem harmful to public health or the environment.
  • Telling agencies to begin weighing tougher methane emissions rules, vehicle CO2 emissions and mileage standards, and appliance and building efficiency standards.
  • Reviving an interagency working group on the "social cost" of greenhouse gas emissions and direct issuance of an "interim" cost. (The social cost is a metric that regulators use to assess the monetary impact of emissions increases.)
  • Reviewing Trump-era decisions that reduced the size of protected areas including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.
  • Biden's orders also direct agencies to review and revise policies that are "counter to his commitment to environmental justice," a transition summary notes, referring to the greater pollution burdens often faced by the poor and communities of color.

Catch up quick: These steps come on top of previously reported inauguration day plans to rejoin the Paris climate deal and yank the Keystone XL pipeline permit.

How it works: Biden officials released a separate list of over 100 Trump-era policies that the incoming administration plans to review and upend, including...

  • EPA decisions on fine particulate and ozone pollution, the scope of the Clean Water Act, carbon emissions from power plants and more.
  • Energy Department efficiency standards and policies for buildings, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, electric motors and more.
  • Interior Department rules in areas like migratory bird protections and offshore drilling safety, to name a couple.

What we don't know: Biden's exact strategy for thwarting development in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which was opened to oil-and-gas leasing under a GOP-crafted law in 2017.

The imminent order will place a "temporary moratorium" on leasing activities, per the summary from the transition team.

Reality check: Much of this simply begins long administrative processes.

As we pointed out Tuesday, some executive orders and directives have instant impacts. But often they're akin to firing a starting gun that directs agencies to begin what's a time-consuming, often litigated bureaucratic process to make real and lasting policy changes.

The intrigue: Other parts of the administration's climate plans are emerging. Janet Yellen, the nominee for Treasury secretary, told a Senate panel she would appoint a senior-level Treasury official to oversee efforts related to climate change.

  • She noted the need for a focus on climate change's risks to the financial system.


Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.