Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A potential President Joe Biden would face an oppositional Senate and a skeptical world if he tried to enact an aggressive climate-change agenda.

Driving the news: Odds are increasing that Biden will win the White House while Congress is likely to remain divided, with Republicans controlling the Senate and Democrats leading the House.

Why it matters: If this outcome prevails, it means we’re in for more of the same dynamic that’s marked the last decade: congressional gridlock, political acrimony and a swinging pendulum of regulations driven by the White House.

Where it stands: Let’s revisit some of the topics I covered in my latest Harder Line column on how Biden would face political limits now that the dust is settling on the 2020 election.

Congressional (in)action

The centerpieces of Biden’s climate plan — including the $2 trillion in spending over four years and goal of making the electricity grid carbon-free in 15 years — are unlikely to materialize with Republicans still controlling the Senate.

  • Removing longstanding tax breaks the oil industry receives seems unlikely with the Senate in GOP control.

What I’m watching: Bipartisan support could emerge for more clean-energy spending (indeed, that’s happened under President Trump) and tax incentives, such as those for carbon capture tech, wind and solar.

Regulations

This is where the biggest action would occur, inevitably, given the lack of congressional possibility.

Where it stands: This would be a laborious and litigious slog, not only to reverse everything Trump has done over the last four years, but to then propose even more aggressive climate-change regulations than what the Obama administration did over its eight years in office.

  • Biden faces a much taller task than Obama. He has more ambition (necessarily, due to climate change being a cumulative problem), a more conservative court system and a more skeptical world.

What they're saying:

“A Biden Administration’s regulatory re-interpretations of old laws for new circumstances could be in peril of reversal by the hundreds of strict constructionist jurists that Trump has installed into lifetime seats on the federal bench."
— ClearView Energy Partners, independent research firm
Global diplomacy

Biden has said he will push other countries to be more aggressive, but with his action limited by congressional gridlock and Trump’s track record, expect this move to be geopolitically fraught and similarly limited.

  • Global climate negotiators in other countries, namely European nations, China and others, have moved forward on goals in the time since the U.S. retreated on the issue.
  • “They would resent a whiff of U.S. triumphalism, that we’re back now and we can lead the world,” said Alden Meyer, a long-time strategist on climate policy and politics.
Oil and natural gas

Beyond the higher profile parts of Biden’s campaign to ban new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, another lower profile — but perhaps even more impactful — change could occur.

The intrigue: In its report, ClearView writes that a Biden presidency and a split Congress could compel the executive branch to look even more to the Labor Department and Securities and Exchange Commission to “leverage financial regulation to constrain (or raise the cost) of capital for fossil energy production.”

Beyond Washington

Expect progressive states, cities and more businesses to work in lockstep with the administration, while more conservative states respond with lawsuits like they did in the Obama years.

What I’m watching: I’ll be seeing how the new, youth-led social movement on climate change, which did not exist when Obama was president, could evolve its focus with a Democratic president.

Go deeper

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

Takeaways from Biden's sweeping order on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's mammoth executive order on climate policy weighs in at over 7,500 words and resists any single narrative, but I've got a few initial takeaways.

Why it matters: The order aims to marshal the entire federal government behind new initiatives, so that means agencies that may not have the muscle memory or expertise of the resource and environmental branches like EPA and DOE.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.