A 3-step makeover of US energy policy

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This entry was intended to first outline and then assess the presidential actions that have been issued to address the purported “climate crisis.” These actions might be likened to a 3-act play, however, and the entry was running too long. The outline follows; tune in next week for the assessment part.


Fact Sheet. President-elect Biden’s Day One Executive Actions Deliver Relief for Families Across America Amid Converging Crises (1/20/21) - The newly inaugurated president signed an “instrument” to rejoin the “Paris Agreement” (aka Paris Climate Accord), and this document (which apparently hasn’t been posted) was deposited with the United Nations. The stated purpose was to put the US “back in position to exercise global leadership in advancing the objectives of the Agreement.”

Action 10. Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis (1/20/21) - “It is . . the policy of my Administration to listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments; and to prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals.”

All executive departments and agencies are directed to “review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of Federal regulations and other actions during the last 4 years that conflict with these important national objectives, and to immediately commence work to confront the climate crisis.”

Four regulatory areas are specifically designated for review: Methane emissions in the oil and gas sector; Fuel economy standards for motor vehicles; Energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings; Emission standards for electric power generation. Agencies shall promptly (30 and 90 day deadlines are specified) report their findings to the OMB (if OMB review is required) and the National Climate Advisor [Gina McCarthy, an EPA director during the Obama administration, has been appointed to this newly created position].

The Secretary of Interior and other designated officials are directed to review Trump era modifications of boundaries and other conditions for four previously declared national monuments (Bears Ears, Grand Staircase Escalante, Northeast Canyons, and Seamounts Marine), recommending appropriate presidential action within 60 days.

Obama era restrictions on offshore oil & gas drilling in Arctic waters are reinstated, and the Secretary of Interior is directed to impose a moratorium on Trump era actions to authorize on-shore drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) pending further review.

To “facilitate sound decision-making, recognize the breadth of climate impacts, and support the international leadership of the United States on climate issues,” it is essential to establish the “social cost of carbon,” “social cost of nitrous oxide,” and “social cost of methane.” These “estimates of the monetized damages associated with incremental increases in greenhouse gas emissions,” including “changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damage from increased flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services,” are to be established “as accurately as possible” and used “to accurately determine the social benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions when conducting cost-benefit analyses.” An interagency working group (comprised of numerous designated officials) is established and directed to establish interim SCC, SCN and SCM standards within 30 days. These interim standards will be used until final standards are published no later than January 2022.

The March 2019 presidential permit for [completion of] the Keystone XL Pipeline is hereby revoked. Because the US and the world face a “climate crisis,” this pipeline “disserves the US national interest.” Leaving this permit in place “would not be consistent with my administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

Numerous other Trump era actions are revoked or suspended, including actions to expedite environmental reviews of high priority infrastructure, promote energy independence and economic goals, and foster efficient federal operations (with the exception of sections 6, 7 and 11, which will apparently survive).

Comment: Among the actions suspended was Executive Order 13920 (5/1/20), which banned the use of Huawei (Chinese electronics firm) components in the US electric power sector. Given that the purpose of EO 13920 was to avoid stealthy compromising of US electric power grids, an objective unrelated to climate change, its suspension here seems odd. Biden’s order could let China control US electric grid, Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner, 1/27/21.


Action 35. Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (1/27/21) -“We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of [the climate] crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents. Domestic action must go hand in hand with United States international leadership, aimed at significantly enhancing global action. Together, we must listen to science and meet the moment.”

The scientific community has made clear that the scale and speed of necessary action is greater than previously believed. [An appropriate response] will require both significant short-term global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and net-zero global emissions by mid-century or before.

EXTERNAL - Climate considerations shall be “an essential element” of US foreign policy and national security. This means working with other countries and parties, and also building resilience, both at home and abroad, “against the impacts of climate change that are already manifest and will continue to intensify according to current trajectories.”

Having rejoined the Paris Agreement, we must now develop and submit our “nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement” - host an early Leaders’ Climate Summit aimed at building climate ambition and making a positive contribution to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) and beyond – reconvene the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate – “pursue green recovery efforts, initiatives to advance the clean energy transition, sectoral decarbonization, and alignment of financial flows with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, including with respect to coal financing, nature-based solutions, and solutions to other climate-related challenges.”

The Special Presidential Envoy for Climate [hereinafter SPE] will “elevate the issue of climate change” and underscore my Administration’s “commitment toward addressing it.” This issue will be pressed “across a wide range of international fora [forums],” e.g., the G-7, G-20, clean energy, aviation, shipping, oceans, sustainable development, and migration. We should promote innovative approaches, including international multi-stakeholder initiatives, and also work in partnership with state and local authorities and other US stakeholders to advance US climate diplomacy.

Designated officials including the Secretaries of State and the Treasury, in coordination with the SPE [John Kerry], shall lead a process to develop a climate finance plan to assist developing countries in playing their part in the global response to the climate crisis. The climate finance plan will be submitted to the president through two designated White House officials (National Security Affairs & Economic Policy) within 90 days.

A lengthy list of “to dos” is provided for key department heads and other officials, which boils down to representing the urgency of responding to the climate crisis in all interactions of their respective agencies with other countries and/or international groups. Climate-related risk management - World Bank – IMF – saving the Amazon rainforest – discouraging international financing of fossil fuel energy while supporting sustainable development - driving innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies – package (within 60 days) requesting Senate approval of Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol re phasedown of production/consumption of hydrofluorocarbons that deplete the ozone layer – national intelligence estimate (within 120 days) re national and economic security impacts of climate change – climate risk analysis that can be incorporated into modeling, simulation, war-gaming, and other Defense Dept. analyses – annual update by Defense Dept. (starting in Jan. 2022) on progress made in incorporating the security implications of climate change into their planning process and assessments – incorporation of climate change information in strategy, planning and programming documents and processes of the Dept. of Homeland Security (with an annual update starting in Jan. 2022) - strategies and implementing plans (within 90 days) by all “agencies that engage in extensive international work” for integrating climate considerations into said work.

INTERNAL – Climate crisis is perilous but there is promise in the solutions. Well-paying union jobs – better infrastructure – equitable, clean energy future – net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050. Success will require a government-wide approach that reduces “climate pollution” in every sector of the economy, protects health, delivers environmental justice, achieves economic prosperity.

A White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy is hereby established to coordinate the effort; it will be headed by the National Climate Advisor [initially Gina McCarthy] and facilitated by a National Climate task force of some 20 members (about 2/3 department/agency heads and 1/3 White House staffers).

Federal government including the Post Office will set the pace by operating energy-efficient buildings, buying zero-net emission vehicles, etc. Buy American policies [
Action 30] and Davis-Bacon Act requirements [prevailing wage for government contracts] will be observed in order to deliver US union jobs.

Review and permitting decisions for constructing renewable energy investments on federal lands or offshore are to be facilitated, with one specific goal being “doubling offshore wind by 2030 while ensuring robust protection for our lands, waters, and biodiversity and creating good jobs.” Meanwhile, new oil and gas leasing in these areas will be suspended pending further study to include “whether to adjust royalties associated with coal, oil, and gas resources extracted from public lands and offshore waters, or take other appropriate action, to account for corresponding climate costs.”

Agency heads are directed to identify any existing fossil fuel subsidies for the National Climate Advisor and OMB, and efforts will be made to eliminate said subsidies in the FY 2022 budget [which will probably be submitted by April 2021]. They are also to report on opportunities to encourage emission-reduction measures so that any required federal funding can be included in the FY 2022 budget.

Agency heads shall submit draft action plans to the Task Force and the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer [a long-established position on the Council of Environmental Quality] within 120 days of this order, describing steps the agency can take with regard to its facilities and operations to bolster adaptation and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. Updates on said plans will be submitted annually.

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and OMB shall seek to ensure that federally funded infrastructure reduces climate pollution and to require that federal permitting decisions consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. To this end, they will keep the National Climate Advisor apprised of siting and permitting processes and identify appropriate steps to accelerate the deployment of clean energy and transmission projects in an environmentally stable manner.

In addition to keeping the CEQ and OMB informed, agencies conducting infrastructure reviews should also consult from an early stage, when appropriate, with state and local authorities whose interests are affected.

It is the policy of my Administration to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving our public lands and waters, in the process creating well-paying union jobs for more Americans, including more opportunities for women and people of color in occupations where they are underrepresented. America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners can help combat the climate crisis and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels. Coastal communities can play an essential role by protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems.

Accordingly, the Secretary of the Interior et al. shall submit to the Task Force, within 90 days (1) a strategy for creating a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative, within existing appropriations, to meet the foregoing needs, and (2) a report on how to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30% of our lands and waters by 2030 that reflects inputs from state and local officials, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders in identifying strategies that will encourage broad participation in the effort. The report shall propose guidelines for determining whether lands and waters qualify for conservation and establish mechanisms to measure progress toward the 30% goal, and there will be annual reports thereafter to monitor progress.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Agriculture shall seek to collect input from tribes, farmers & ranchers, forest owners conservation groups, firefighters, etc. on using Dept. of Agriculture programs, funding, etc. and encourage the voluntary adoption of climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices that decrease wildfire risk fueled by climate change and result in additional, measurable, and verifiable carbon reductions and sequestration and that source sustainable bioproducts and fuels. A report and strategy recommendations will be submitted to the Task Force within 90 days.

And the Secretary of Commerce, through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shall initiate efforts within 60 days to collect input from fishermen, regional ocean councils, fishery management councils, scientists, and other stakeholders on how to make fisheries and protected resources more resilient to climate change, including changes in management and conservation measures, and improvements in science, monitoring, and cooperative research.

Mining and power plant workers drove the industrial revolution and the economic growth that followed, and have been essential to the growth of the United States. As the Nation shifts to a clean energy economy, Federal leadership is essential to foster economic revitalization of and investment in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities, ensure the creation of good jobs that provide a choice to join a union, and secure the benefits that have been earned by workers.

The work required includes plugging leaks in oil and gas wells, reclaiming abandoned mine land , and seeking to turn idled properties, such as brownfields, into new hubs for the growth of our economy. Federal agencies should help by coordinating investments and other efforts to assist the aforesaid communities and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector as quickly as possible.

An Interagency Working Group (with 13 members, including the federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission) is hereby formed to oversee this work. It will be jointly headed by the National Climate Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and housed within the Energy Department. This group will report to the president within 60 days re strategies to maximize the use of existing funding mechanisms including government loans, and thereafter submit regular progress reports to its co-heads.

Last but not least, it is the policy of my Administration to secure environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment in housing, transportation, water and wastewater infrastructure, and health care. A White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council (with 18 designated members ) is hereby created, which will be chaired by the head of the CEQ (Brenda Mallory).

The Interagency Council shall develop a strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice in consultation with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and with local environmental justice leaders. It shall also develop clear performance metrics to ensure accountability and publish an annual public performance scorecard on its implementation.

The Interagency Council shall, within 120 days of the date of this order, submit to the president, through the national climate advisor, a set of recommendations for refinement of the foregoing directions.

There is hereby established, within the Environmental Protection Agency, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (Advisory Council), which shall advise the Interagency Council and the chair of the CEQ. The members shall be appointed by the president, and the functions of this body will be solely to provide recommendations to the Interagency Council.

A variety of to dos are assigned to various officials. Develop a “geospatial Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool” to create interactive maps highlighting disadvantaged communities – strengthen EPA enforcement of environmental violations with disproportionate impact on underserved communities – community notification program to monitor and provide real-time data to the public on current environmental pollution in “fenceline and frontline communities” – comprehensive attention to environmental justice throughout the Department of Justice, to include considering creating an Office of Environmental Justice within the Department to coordinate environmental justice activities among DOJ components and US attorneys’ offices nationwide – Health and Human Services Dept. to establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity - Interagency Working Group to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable - biennial Health Care System Readiness Advisory Council - report on the climate strategies and technologies that will result in the most air and water quality improvements, which shall be published on the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s website – joint report of the CEQ Chair, the OMB and the National Climate Advisor on how clean energy, rapid transit, etc. investments might be made toward a goal that 40% of the overall benefits flow to disadvantaged communities, said report to be developed after consultations with affected disadvantaged communities – an annual Environmental Justice Scorecard detailing agency environmental justice metrics, also to be posted on the internet.

Action 48. Executive Order on Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration (2/4/21) - One of the perceived reasons for the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is to help recognize and respond to global migration patterns being driven by climate change.

Several Trump era actions re the USRAP are revoked, and various agencies and officials are directed to develop new ones. General principles: applicants must be treated with dignity and respect; there shall be no improper discrimination based on “race, religion, national origin, or other grounds;” requirements and processes are to be made more transparent; processing delays must be reduced; applicants may appeal if they are rejected; withal anti-fraud and security features should be strengthened.

Within 180 days, several officials are directed to prepare a report for the president on the interplay between migration patterns and climate change. International security implications of climate-related migration – protection and resettlement of displaced individuals – US foreign assistance to mitigate negative aspects of climate changes – opportunities to collaborate with other countries, international organizations, non-governmental organization, and localities to respond to climate-related migration.


Action 36. Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (1/27/21) - Scientific and technological information, data, and evidence are central to the development and iterative improvement of sound policies, and to the delivery of equitable programs, across every area of government. Scientific findings should never be distorted or influenced by political considerations. When scientific or technological information is considered in policy decisions, it should be subjected to well-established scientific processes, including peer review where feasible and appropriate, with appropriate protections for privacy. There shall be no improper political interference in the work of federal scientists or other scientists who support the work of the federal government and in the communication of scientific facts.

The director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) shall see to it that all executive agencies establish and enforce appropriate scientific-integrity policies, and shall, as appropriate, convene and confer with agency heads of agencies and personnel within the Executive Office of the President (including the OMB).

In this regard, the OSTP director shall convene an interagency “Task Force” of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to conduct a thorough review of the agency scientific-integrity policies developed since March 9, 2009 (date of the first Obama era action on this subject). This review of all agency policies shall be completed within 120 days after the appointment of the Task Force members, and it will include consideration of the following points: No improper political interference in scientific or technological work – no suppression or distortion of the findings, data, etc. – support for scientists and researchers of all genders, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds – “equitable delivery of the federal government’s programs” - analysis of any instances in which existing scientific-integrity policies have not been followed or enforced.

The Task Force shall also identify effective practices re engagement on scientific matters with news media and on social media - policies that protect scientific independence and/or avoid political interference – handling of any disagreements about scientific methods and conclusions – appropriate reporting practices – how employees and contractors of their rights and responsibilities are kept informed about agency scientific-integrity policies – potential gaps in current scientific-integrity policies as applied to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine-learning – challenges posed by citizen science and community-engaged research – how to minimize conflicts of interest in federal government science - policies that support the professional development of federal scientists.

To inform its review, the Task Force should gather input from stakeholders and the public regarding scientific-integrity practices, e.g., by holding a virtual stakeholder summit hosted by the OSTP, publicly requesting information, and conducting a virtual listening tour or open forums. A summary of the Task Force’s review shall be published on the OSTP website, to include descriptions of (1) the agencies’ strengths and weaknesses re scientific-integrity policies, and (2) a description of best practices and lessons learned.

Within 120 days thereafter, the Task Force shall develop a framework to inform and support the regular assessment and iterative improvement of agency scientific-integrity policies and practices including assessment criteria. This framework shall also be published on the OSTP website.

All agency activities should be conducted in accordance with the 6 principles set forth in section 1 of the Presidential Memorandum of 3/9/2009, and the 4 foundations of scientific integrity in government set forth in part I of the Director’s Memorandum of 12/17/2010. Furthermore, agency heads shall ensure that the scientific-integrity policies of their respective agencies (including contractors) conform to the findings of the aforesaid Task Force report, as evidenced by the issuance of up-to-date agency policies within 180 days after the Task Force report is published. The OSTP director will then review the agency policies and coordinate with agency heads re any necessary adjustments.

In addition to compliance with the foregoing, agency heads are charged with publishing the scientific-integrity policies for their respective agencies on-line, conforming other website content and agency reports, informing workers and contractor employees engaged in scientific work as to their rights and responsibilities re scientific integrity, and publishing annual reports on the subject.

The OSTP director shall publish information about this memorandum, related OSTP and NSTC reports on scientific integrity, and links to the scientific-integrity policies posted on agency websites, to ensure such information and policies can be easily accessed. Thereafter, the OSTP director shall publish biennial reports re the impact on scientific integrity of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices related to the federal scientific and engineering community.

Agency heads shall ensure that the scientific-integrity policies of their agencies consider, supplement, and support their plans for forming evidence-based policies based on existing statutory provisions and administrative guidance, e.g., Executive Order 13707 of September 15, 2015 (Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People) and the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018.

Within 120 days, the OMB director shall issue guidance to improve agencies’ evidence-building plans and annual evaluation plans. Relevant approaches might include use of pilot projects, randomized control trials, quantitative-survey research and statistical analysis, qualitative research, ethnography, research based on data linkages in which records from two or more datasets that refer to the same entity are joined, well-established processes for community engagement and inclusion in research, and other approaches that may be informed by the social and behavioral sciences and data science.

In reverse, officials and groups currently charged with fostering evidence-based policy making shall incorporate scientific-integrity principles consistent with this memorandum into their agencies’ data governance and evaluation approaches. And agency heads shall seek to expand open and secure access to Federal data routinely collected in the course of governmental activities, such as tax data, vital records, and Social Security Administration earnings and employment reports, to ensure governmental and non-governmental researchers can use Federal data to assess and evaluate the effectiveness and equitable delivery of policies and to suggest improvements. Consider making these data available by default in a machine-readable format and in a manner that protects privacy and confidential or classified information, and any other information protected from disclosure by law.

Also, (1) the mandates of the Information Quality Act should be followed; (2) the OMB shall review whether agencies need updated guidance re implementation of the Information Quality Act, and (3) agencies should disaggregate publicly reported data by gender, race, ethnicity, age, income, and other demographic factors where feasible so as to help researchers understand the effects of policies and programs on equity and justice.

Heads of agencies that fund, conduct, or oversee scientific research shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, designate a senior agency employee as the chief science officer (CSO) or the equivalent. The CSO role: (i) serve as the principal advisor to the head of the agency on scientific issues and ensure that the agency’s research programs are scientifically and technologically well-founded and conducted with integrity; (ii) oversee implementation and iterative improvement of policies and processes affecting the integrity of research funded, conducted, or overseen by the agency, including scientific-integrity policies consistent with provisions of this memorandum.

Because science, facts, and evidence are vital to addressing policy and programmatic issues across the federal government, the heads of all agencies shall appoint a lead scientific-integrity official (SIO). For agencies that have a CSO, the SIO will report to the CSO on all matters involving scientific-integrity policies.

The OSTP director or a designee shall regularly convene CSOs and SIOs to encourage the discussion and expansion of effective scientific-integrity policies and practices among agencies.

Within 90 days, agency heads are to review their current and future needs for independent scientific and technological (S&T) advice from Federal advisory committees, commissions, and boards (many such advisory bodies have been organized under current law) and furnish a summary report to the OSTP director and the OMB director. The desired focus: Which S&T advisory committees should be rechartered or recreated – which S&T advisory committees should be prioritized for membership appointments to ensure they provide well-rounded and expert advice reflecting diverse perspectives - which agency policies, processes, or practices, if any, should be updated to encourage relevant and highly qualified external experts to serve on such committees.

Action 37. Executive Order on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (1/27/21) - As explained in Action 36, supra, it is the policy of my Administration to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data.

Accordingly, a Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is hereby established, to be composed of not more than 26 members. Federal members: the president’s science advisor (SA) and potentially the US chief technology officer. Other members: Distinguished individuals and representatives from sectors outside the federal government appointed by the president, who shall have diverse perspectives and expertise in science, technology, and innovation. The SA shall be a co-chair of the PCAST, and there will be up to five other co-chairs drawn from the non-federal members.

The PCAST shall advise the President on matters involving policy affecting science, technology, and innovation, as well as on matters involving scientific and technological information that is needed to inform public policy re the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.

The PCAST shall meet regularly and shall respond to requests from the president or the SA for information, analysis, evaluation, or advice. It shall solicit information and ideas from a broad range of stakeholders, including the research community, the private sector [business], universities, national laboratories, state and local governments, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. It shall serve as the advisory committees identified in the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 and in the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, and it shall provide advice to the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) if requested to do so.


# China can benefit as Canadian oil is shipped to China versus to the US via the Keystone XL Pipeline. High oil prices favor Russia. Tariffs on imports from China will be cut. – SAFE director

#Cancellation of the XL Pipeline is the most egregious example of Biden's irrational and harmful energy policy. Keep up the good work. – Retired judge

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