President Biden is already turning GOP heads with his climate-forward agenda that leaders of the oil and gas industry have feared would reverse former President Donald Trump’s industry-friendly policies.
In a series of executive orders signed just hours after Biden assumed the presidency, a key permit for the Keystone Pipeline XL was revoked, the U.S. recommitted to the Paris Climate Agreement and a temporary moratorium was placed on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Biden pledged aggressive government action to address climate change, but Republicans in Congress claim the strategy to reverse Trump-era energy policies could negatively affect employment.
“Rejoining the deeply flawed Paris Climate Accord and blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline will eliminate jobs, increase the cost of energy,” said Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney in a statement. "Today’s Executive Orders reverse important policies and impose significant economic cost that will imperil our recovery.”
Though while Republicans have scoffed at the move to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement to lower the U.S.’s carbon footprint, the international community, along with the United Nation’s applauded the decision, but said the U.S. has “a very long way to go.”
“The climate crisis continues to worsen and time is running out to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and build more climate-resilient societies that help to protect the most vulnerable,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Wednesday.
Nearly 200 countries have entered the agreement to reduce the planet’s warming and avoid natural disasters, famine and permanent damage to wildlife – a plan that Trump rejected on account of China and India’s pollutant levels.
French President Emmanuel Macron cheered Biden’s environmental decisions Wednesday, saying “Welcome back to the Paris Agreement,” in an afternoon tweet.
But several GOP legislators on Capitol Hill took issue with Biden’s decision to kill the 1,200 mile-long Keystone Pipeline that transports oil from Canada into the U.S., fearing a hit to the energy job industry.
“The biggest losers from this decision are the energy workers who stood to benefit from the pipeline,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said.
Environmentalists and Native Americans have contested the pipeline since 2004, as it draws oil from tar sands and transports it across tribal lands.
Biden also put a temporary moratorium on oil drilling in the ecologically plentiful Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska – an area that has roughly 10 billion barrels of “technically recoverable oil.”
“At a time when the United States, and especially Alaska, is struggling to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, I am astounded to see that the Biden administration’s ‘day one’ priority is put our economy, jobs, and nation’s security at risk,” said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska following the executive order.
Biden made addressing climate change a core principle of his campaign, though reversing all Trump-era policies that negatively affect the environment is expected to take years.
“A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” Biden said Wednesday during his inauguration speech, hinting at the level of priority environmental policies will have during his administration. “A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now.”
The new president continued saying, “We face an attack on democracy and on truth. A raging virus. Growing inequity. The sting of systemic racism. A climate in crisis.”
He noted that any one of those issues "would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with the gravest of responsibilities,”