Extreme Temperature Diary- Thursday May 6th, 2021/ Main Topic: New Scorecards Tracking Biden’s Environmental Action

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: New Scorecards Tracking Biden’s Environmental Action

Dear Diary. It’s only been a little over 100 days since Joe Biden took office, but big policy changes are already occurring. One of his first tasks was to start unwinding the myriad of Trump’s edicts that harmed the environment and repair federal agencies that oversee protections for clear air, water and food. Simultaneously the new administration is pushing for Green New Deal initiatives that will help fight climate change, something that team Trump, via his overall recalcitrant climate policy, would have never done. In my opinion, Biden is doing a stupendous job so far..

The Washington Post this morning has updated a great detailed article tracking any progress fixing Trump’s awful damaging executive environmental actions. I’m sharing some of the piece for my main topic today. The article reads like an encyclopedia in it’s original format with many specific links to actions that I have not included here. To read the article in its original format just click the link below:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2021/climate-environment/biden-climate-environment-actions/

Tracking Biden’s environmental actions

The new president is unwinding Trump’s legacy while forging his own

By Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and John Muysken

Updated May 6 at 10:29 a.m.

In just over three months, President Biden has begun to transform the nation’s energy and environmental landscape, according to a Washington Post analysis, by overturning 31 of former president Donald Trump’s policies and finalizing 21 of his own. From pausing new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters to rejoining the Paris climate agreement, Biden has elevated the issue of climate change across the U.S. government and signaled a shift away from fossil fuels. Last month, he pledged the United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions between 50 and 52 percent by the end of the decade compared with 2005 levels, a commitment that will trigger major changes in the ways Americans live, work and travel.

“I talked to the experts, and I see the potential for a more prosperous and equitable future. The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable,” Biden declared at the virtual climate summit he convened on Earth Day. “The United States isn’t waiting. We are resolving to take action.”

On Monday, his administration proposed its first major climate-pollution rule, targeting a class of powerful greenhouse gases used widely in refrigeration and air conditioning. The Environmental Protection Agency plans to cut the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons, which are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide, by 85 percent in the next 15 years.

And on Thursday, the administration launched its biggest conservation initiative, dubbed “America the Beautiful,” which aims to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. But the report by the Interior, Commerce and Agriculture Departments provides few details on how it will achieve that sweeping vision, signaling the challenges that lie ahead.

President Biden speaks to the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate from the East Room of the White House on Thursday in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Still, much of Biden’s environmental agenda remains unfinished, and could face political head winds. Many congressional Republicans have expressed skepticism about the president’s infrastructure plan, which includes generous funding for electric vehicles, renewable projects and energy efficiency, as well as a new national clean electricity standard. The administration has yet to clearly define Biden’s pledge to protect 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters, a commitment that could come into conflict with his push to expand solar and wind power.

And dozens of other policies are either under scrutiny or remain a work in progress. The administration has targeted more than 70 Trump-era regulatory rollbacks, according to The Post analysis, and has proposed eight new environmental initiatives that have yet to be finalized.

The oil and gas industry, for its part, has pledged to work with the new administration on some fronts while resisting several of its most liberal actions so far.

Anne Bradbury, chief executive of the American Exploration & Production Council, said in an interview that her members anticipated several of the steps Biden has taken, including denying a cross-border permit to the Keystone XL pipeline and a sweeping review of the federal oil and gas program.

“None of this took us by surprise,” Bradbury said. “It seems they’ve had a range of options, and in most cases, they’ve taken the most extreme option. So that’s been a concern.”

Some left-leaning environmental groups, for their part, argue that administration officials aren’t doing enough to settle the raft of lawsuits challenging Trump-era rules. Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the Justice Department has asked the court in several cases to send rules back to agencies for review rather than vacate them outright.

Unless the administration changes its legal strategy, Hartl said, “we will be fighting for years to try to undo some of these Trump rules, with a lot of them undermining exactly what Biden is trying to do.”

Biden’s deputies continue to overhaul federal environmental policies. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland took action April 16 to unwind several of her predecessor’s orders aimed at promoting fossil fuel development, while elevating climate change priorities in the department.

She signed two executive orders, one of which established a climate task force that instructs Interior officials to prioritize environmental justice concerns, tribal rights and scientific transparency in decisions through the National Environmental Policy Act. The 50-year-old law requires federal officials to analyze the potential environmental impacts of major projects, such as pipelines and mining.

[Tourists and looters descend on Bears Ears as Biden mulls protections]

“At the Department of the Interior, I believe we have a unique opportunity to make our communities more resilient to climate change and to help lead the transition to a clean energy economy,” Haaland said in a statement. “These steps will align the Interior Department with the President’s priorities and better position the team to be a part of the climate solution.”

These moves are the start of what promises to be a much longer — and more arduous — effort to unwind the Trump administration’s sweeping environmental and energy policies, which were marked by aggressive deregulation, prioritizing the fossil-fuel industry and sidelining efforts to combat climate change or protect imperiled animals.

Trump worked to scale back or abolish more than 200 environmental protections in just a single term, according to a Post analysis, completing more than 170 of them. Biden can overturn some of them with a stroke of a pen. Others will take years to undo, and some may never be reversed. Four Obama-era regulations were nullified under the Congressional Review Act, which prevents the introduction of a new rule that is “substantially the same” as what had been replaced, making Trump’s actions particularly hard to reverse.

The majority of Trump’s rollbacks affect air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change, although 30 affect wildlife and 28 relate to infrastructure and planning. Although Biden is unlikely to target every one of his predecessor’s environmental actions, dozens of them are already in his sights.

Air pollution and greenhouse gases

7 new protections added 5 proposed

Status of Trump’s rollbacks: 7 overturned 26 targeted 33 not yet targeted

The Trump administration enacted at least 64 policies weakening or overturning regulations aimed at curbing air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions fueling global warming. Biden has said he will reverse that legacy and promote a low-carbon future instead. By signing a document to rejoin the Paris climate agreement on his first day in office, the new president reversed one of his predecessor’s signature policies and signaled a different path.

Chemical safety

Status of Trump’s rollbacks: 0 overturned 6 targeted 8 not yet targeted

From plastic water bottles to farmworker pesticide exposure to chemical dangers for infants and children, the Trump administration favored industry over consumer health. At least 14 chemical safety laws are under review by the Biden administration to restore lost protections.

Drilling and extraction

7 new protections added 1 proposed

Status of Trump’s rollbacks: 11 overturned 17 targeted 44 not yet targeted

The 61 rollbacks Trump enacted on drilling, mining and logging ranged from weakened oil worker safety on offshore platforms to extracting fossil fuels from public lands. Biden announced a moratorium on oil and gas drilling on Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and is reassessing a range of extractive activities, including expanded timber operations in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and coal leasing out west in the Lower 48.

Infrastructure and permitting

3 new protections added 2 proposed

Status of Trump’s rollbacks: 8 overturned 3 targeted 18 not yet targeted

The Trump administration circumvented environmental rules to speed approval of major projects such as a four-lane highway that could crush desert tortoises in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and adopting changes that will curb public input in the development of highways, power plants and incinerators near communities.

Accountability

3 new protections added

Status of Trump’s rollbacks: 3 overturned 0 targeted 0 not yet targeted

Biden has said he will change the way the federal government works, making environmental justice a top priority. He will also restore the role of science in decision-making across the entire federal government. That includes taking aim at one of the EPA’s final acts under Trump: limiting the scientific data that can be used in the crafting of public health protections.

Water pollution

Status of Trump’s rollbacks: 0 overturned 7 targeted 8 not yet targeted

Trump eased restrictions on how companies store coal ash, weakened rules on dumping toxic waste from power plants into waterways and altered which wetlands and streams require federal oversight. Biden has said he will crack down on legacy pollution, particularly in vulnerable communities, and will prioritize upgrading the nation’s crumbling drinking-water infrastructure.

Wildlife

1 new protection added

Status of Trump’s rollbacks: 2 overturned 12 targeted 16 not yet targeted

One of the hallmarks of former interior secretary David Bernhardt’s legacy has been the narrowing of safeguards for endangered wildlife. The northern spotted owl, whose forest habitat is disappearing; the Pacific walrus, which faces shrinking sea ice; and the Bryde’s whale, threatened by oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, are likely to receive enhanced protections under Biden.

About this story

The Post assembled data on the Trump administration’s environmental regulatory rollbacks from several sources: the White House, the Interior Department, the Energy Department, the Commerce Department, the Transportation Department, the Justice Department, the EPA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program, Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Berkeley Center for Law, Energy and the Environment.

Illustrations by Aaron Steckelberg. First published Jan. 21, 2021, and periodically updated.

Headshot of Juliet Eilperin

Juliet Eilperin Follow is a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior national affairs correspondent for The Washington Post, covering environmental and energy policy. She has written two books, “Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks” and “Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the House of Representatives.”

Headshot of Brady Dennis

Brady Dennis Follow is a Pulitzer Prize-winning national reporter for The Washington Post, focusing on the environment and public health. He previously spent years covering the nation’s economy.

Headshot of John Muyskens

John MuyskensFollow is a graphics editor at the Washington Post specializing in data

Related:

Here is more April 2021 climatology:

Here is more climate and weather news from Thursday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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