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WASHINGTON — President Biden on Wednesday will direct federal agencies to determine how expansive a ban on new oil and gas leasing on federal land should be, part of a suite of executive orders that will effectively launch his agenda to combat climate change, two people with knowledge of the president’s plans said Monday.
An eventual ban on new drilling leases would fulfill a campaign promise that infuriated the oil industry and became a central theme in the fight for the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania, where the natural gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has become big business.
The move is the most prominent of several that Mr. Biden with announce Wednesday, the two people said. The president also will direct the government to conserve 30 percent of all federal land and water by 2030, create a task force to assemble a governmentwide action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, issue a memorandum elevating climate change to a national security priority. Mr. Biden will also create several new commissions and positions within the government focused on environmental justice and environmentally friendly job creation, including one to help displaced coal communities.
The programs and proclamations are supposed to signal that climate change is back on the government agenda, bigger than ever. What they will not deliver, at least yet, is a steep and rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Can this administration do a lot on its own? Yes,” said Jonathan H. Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University. “But,” he added, “if the standard, though, is atmospheric stabilization, I’m skeptical the administration can do anything near enough administratively.”
That will require legislation, Mr. Adler said, “especially if a premium is put on getting emissions reductions as soon as possible.”
A spokesman for the White House declined to comment on the orders, and two people close to the administration noted that final decisions on them were still being refined.
The likelihood that Congress can pass vast parts of Mr. Biden’s $2 trillion climate change agenda is only slightly greater now that Democrats hold the slimmest possible majority in a 50-50 Senate. There is little hope of passing a carbon tax or other mechanism to put a price on greenhouse gas pollution, which would push cost-conscious corporations to emit less.
Without legislation, the administration will have to rely on the regulatory process to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and smokestacks and improve vehicle fuel efficiency, but that takes time too. It cannot be done by executive order.
“The tons of carbon pollution in the air is what matters in the end,” said Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University and co-chairman of a group that delivered climate policy blueprints to the…
Go to the news source: Biden Launches Climate Change Efforts