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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Environmentalists are all psyched that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump, but tensions on the left could soon come to the surface as Biden starts implementing his energy agenda.

Why it matters: Democrats and the wider left are in the midst of a public reckoning with how progressive the party's stances and message should be.

  • It follows an election that handed Biden a sizable win, but Democrats have thus far failed to re-take the Senate (unless both Georgia runoffs go their way), while their House majority shrunk.

The big picture: "Biden is already caught up in the Democratic conflict over how far to go in combating climate change," The Washington Examiner reports.

Driving the news: Biden has a sprawling platform under his overall goal of reaching net-zero U.S. emissions by 2050, so here's just a few potential flashpoints I'll be watching...

  • Personnel: Activist groups like 350.org and Oil Change don't want Biden to choose anyone who has worked with or is even indirectly associated with fossil fuel interests to top roles. And it's an effort that goes well beyond just Cabinet secretaries.
  • “I think everyone is fixated at the Cabinet level for obvious reasons, but the folks below that are really important too,” said Julian Brave NoiseCat, a top strategist with the progressive think tank Data for Progress.
  • Oil-and-gas drilling: Biden's pledge to end permitting on federal lands is pretty sweeping and...pretty vague. So let's see how aggressively it's crafted in terms of timelines and so forth.
  • Congress: There's no chance for a sweeping climate bill unless Democrats take the Senate, but look for efforts to include clean energy-related investments in an economic recovery package. The shape of a potential compromise — especially around topics like support for carbon capture and nuclear power — is something to watch.
  • Congress, part II: If Democrats somehow win both Georgia runoffs and claim a small majority, that opens the first window for major climate legislation in a decade, with all kinds of interests to balance.
  • LNG exports: Will Biden's posture be supportive? Both the Obama and Trump administration's viewed liquefied natural gas exports as an important source of U.S. leverage in gas-reliant Europe, while the left opposes the sector. Axios' Amy Harder explored this tension in more detail here.

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.

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.