When President Biden took office in January of last year, Scout wrote an article about Biden’s first environmental Executive Order hours within taking office.
Here’s what’s happened since then in a nutshell.
1. Paris Climate Accord:
The U.S. is back in the Paris Climate Accord and has set a goal of a reduction of 50% of greenhouse gas by 2030, but with minor exceptions, nothing has been done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the federal government to implement that goal.
2. Environmental Justice:
The president has made environmental justice a cornerstone of his administration and the EPA is working to set up programs that look at environmental justice issues, especially in the Southeast. For example, the president signed two Executive Orders related to environmental justice:
- E.O. 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, January 27, 2021.
Implements policy to secure environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity.
- E.O. 14031, Advancing Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, May 28, 2021.
Delivers on the White House’s commitment to reinstate and reinvigorate the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. To ensure that the federal government is mitigating COVID-19 related anti-Asian bias, advancing health equity, and ensuring Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander communities equitably recover from the pandemic, the initiative is now housed within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The infrastructure legislation has literally billions of dollars earmarked for cleanup of superfund sites, clean water, lead-based pipes, and other environmental justice-based projects, but little has been spent on real projects. In 2022, we anticipate states will identify infrastructure projects that can be funded and work will begin, especially on lead-based paint and clean water issues.
The Administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan, has established two senior positions at the headquarters level to lead the effort on environmental justice. Neither position has been officially filled, as President Biden’s selections have not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. It is likely that the EPA positions will be filled, and aggressive work will begin reviewing environmental justice issues as they relate to major projects being proposed that impact minority communities.
5. The Supreme Court and Waters of the U.S.:
The biggest environmental issue to come out in the last six months is the Supreme Court’s agreement to take the Idaho Water Pollution Control Act case, which will determine the definition of “Waters of the United States.” Scout has written a few blog articles detailing proposed EPA changes to the Waters of the U.S. (January 2022, July 2021, May 2021). This case will likely not get to court until next October, with a decision likely in June 2023, but it could be – and likely will be – a huge setback for enforcing water pollution statutes and regulations by states and the EPA/Department of Justice.
That’s a quick take on the state of the Biden administration’s environmental programs in 2021 and what we can potentially see for 2022. Scout is here to keep you updated. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to help your projects navigate the latest.