"Biden Harris 2020 Celebration" by Christopher.Michel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Amidst Democratic Party Turmoil, The Biden-Harris Administration Continues To Protect The Environment & Workers

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The Chevron deference was an essential legal precedent that conferred upon federal agencies the capacity to interpret and to make laws more explicit. The Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Chevron has placed the future of many regulations on clean water and clean air in the hands of appointed judges, the majority of whom have no scientific expertise. The Supremes’ ruling on Chevron has the potential to undo much of the work of US federal agencies that, under the direction of the Biden-Harris administration, have worked to protect the environment in numerous ways.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in her dissent, “Any established government regulation about any issue—say, workplace safety, toxic waste, or consumer protection—can now be attacked by any new regulated entity within six years of the entity’s formation.”

Overturning Chevron is some serious sh**. So, too, is the turmoil that has emerged since the Biden-Trump debacle debate. But, to its credit, the Biden-Harris administration has continued to pursue climate actions through rules that push forward its ambitious climate agenda — from boosting the clean energy sector to prioritizing environmental justice.

Plans are in place to impose the first-ever federal standards to shield US workers from heat stress. “We’re preparing and responding to the dangerous impacts of extreme weather and the climate crisis that’s affecting people all around America,” Biden said last week in remarks at the DC Emergency Operations Center in Washington, DC. “Ignoring climate change is deadly and dangerous and irresponsible.”

Citing serious threats to the nation’s transportation system, power grid, farms, fisheries, and forests — “in each case costing lives and costing money” — Biden announced 5 new actions to address extreme weather, including heat and other hazards.

  1. The Department of Labor is proposing a new rule that, when finalized, will establish the nation’s first-ever federal safety standard for excessive heat in the workplace. This includes things like developing response plans to heat illness; training employees and supervisors; implementing rest breaks; and, assuring access to shade and water. “This new rule will substantially reduce heat injuries, illnesses, and deaths for over 36 million workers to whom it will apply — from farmworkers to construction workers, postal workers, manufacturing workers, and so much more,” the President explained.
  2. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will also finalize a rule to improve the nation’s resilience against flooding. FEMA will now factor in the effects of future flooding for any federally funded construction project —  what caused the damage, what broke down, and what the best way to repair it is, not just bring it back to what it was but prioritize making it better through nature-based solutions.
  3. FEMA is announcing nearly $1 billion in grants for over 650 projects across the country that help communities protect against natural disasters, including extreme heat, storms, and flooding. These grants will also help advance the Justice 40 Initiative to deliver at least 40% of overall benefits of clean transit, clean energy, and climate investment to devastated communities that historically have been left behind.
  4. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing a new report showing the continued impacts of climate change on US health and the environment. This report can assist to prepare better, respond faster, and save more lives, according to the Biden-Harris administration.
  5. Later this summer, the administration will convene the first-ever White House Summit on Extreme Heat, bringing together state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders and international partners who are protecting communities and workers from extreme weather everyday.

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At the DC venue Biden also reminded his audience of the difference between his administration and that of the previous Trump administration in efforts to protect the environment. The Biden-Harris administration has:

  • enacted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which delivers over $20 billion to enhance the US power grid, and expand energy storage “so that lights, air conditioning, refrigeration, Internet stay on during heat waves, storms, and other climate changes. It’s building back a different way;”
  • invested a record of more than $50 billion for climate resilience, including against extreme heat and wildfires;
  • implemented the American Rescue Plan, which “is helping states and cities promote energy efficiency, reduce the impacts from flooding, and open cooling centers;” and,
  •  legislated the Inflation Reduction Act, “the most significant climate investment ever in the history of the world anywhere in the world,” which has created 300,000 new jobs and built clean energy infrastructure needed to cut US emissions.

Biden also used the speech to discount the failures of Trump and the MAGA Republicans in Congress to protect the environment. He reminded the audience that every congressional Republican voted against the federal investments of the last few years which created jobs and combated climate change. Many of these MAGA Republicans, he said, are trying to repeal those climate provisions and eliminate those jobs.

“They still deny climate change even exists. They deny climate change even exists — they must be living in a hole somewhere — at the expense of health and safety of their own constituents.”

Final Thoughts about the Politics Needed to Protect the Environment

Building a 100% clean energy economy requires clear goals to guide its critical decisions. The Biden-Harris administration has embraced the goal of reaching net zero GHG emissions by mid-century in order to stabilize global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

It has required US policy changes, such as amending the Clean Air Act to empower strong protections against climate pollution. The EPA has pushed a suite of standards that cut pollution from power plants, passenger vehicles, oil wells, trucks, and more. Investment in US battery manufacturing has nearly tripled since the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), rising from $8 billion in the year before enactment to $21 billion in the year after. The IRA has created more than 271,000 new clean energy jobs. Biden signed an executive order directing every federal agency to work toward “environmental justice for all,” with more than 500 federal programs covered by the Justice 40 Initiative — so that the most significantly affected economically disadvantaged communities benefit from climate, clean energy, and clean water investments​​. The America the Beautiful initiative aims to conserve 30% of US lands and waters by 2030.

Importantly, the US rejoined the Paris Agreement on day one of the Biden administration and has advocated ever since to strengthen the international agreement.

Note: This article is part of a series in response to a plea by reader George Harvey, who has challenged CleanTechnica to “become an advocate for the political stands required to save this nation, its people, and all living things on Earth. We must take a less destructive path to the future. I believe we must act now, for the sake of all humanity, to prevent Donald Trump from getting into office again.”


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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack: https://carolynfortuna.substack.com/.

Carolyn Fortuna has 1361 posts and counting. See all posts by Carolyn Fortuna