Category Archives: Environment

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Launches Effort to Create More Affordable, Equitable Outdoor Recreation Opportunities as Part of America The Beautiful Initiative

House on Fire at Cedar Mesa, Bears Ears National Monument. As part of President Biden’s America the Beautiful Initiative, The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, and the five Tribes of the Bears Ears Commission formalized their partnership for co-management of the Bears Ears National Monument. The Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Pueblo of Zuni will be joint managers of the National Monument and will receive resources from Federal agencies to participate in and take leadership on the management of their ancestral lands. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As part of the President’s America the Beautiful Initiative, the Biden-Harris Administration launched an interagency effort, called the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), that will work to create more safe, affordable, and equitable opportunities for Americans to get outdoors.

The FICOR – which includes leaders from the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense – will focus on improving access to nature, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, and providing the public with improved and more affordable experiences on America’s public lands and waters.

Increasing access to outdoor recreation is one of the six areas of focus outlined in President Biden’s America the Beautiful Initiative. The FICOR will help coordinate policies, facilitate partnerships, and improve implementation on issues such as:  

  • Investing in resilient recreation infrastructure, such as electric vehicle charging stations, trails, campgrounds, visitor centers, docks, and boating access;
     
  • Bolstering education and career opportunities in conservation, outdoor recreation, habitat restoration, and resource management work, and  providing comprehensive visitor information for the hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, birding, climbing, and boating communities;
     
  • Cooperating with State, Tribal, territorial, and local governments, including those in communities near Federal lands and waters; and
     
  • Improving equitable access to Federal lands and waters and creating a welcoming visitor experience in collaboration with private, public, Tribal, and nonprofit organizations.

The launch of the FICOR renews and re-energizes a body that was originally created in 2011 but was suspended by the previous administration. Prior to being suspended, the FICOR successfully launched recreation.gov, helped the Bureau of Economic Analysis begin tracking outdoor recreation as an economic sector, and worked to establish the Every Kid Outdoors Pass.

With outdoor recreation continuing to grow rapidly as an economic sector, including by contributing 1.8 percent of GDP and generating $374.3 billion in economic output, and America’s parks and public lands experiencing record-level visitation, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking unprecedented steps to expand equitable access to the outdoors and to protect natural, cultural, and historic resources.
In addition to launching the FICOR, the Administration has:

  • Launched historic investments through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the restoration of Federal lands and waters, including by improving availability of and equitable access to outdoor recreation opportunities.
    • Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo announced funding opportunities from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) $2.96 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds to address the climate crisis and strengthen coastal resilience and infrastructure. Over the next five years, NOAA’s targeted investments in the areas of habitat restoration, coastal resilience, and climate data and services will advance ongoing Federal efforts toward building climate resilience. Projects focused on building “Climate Ready Coasts” will invest in natural infrastructure projects that power outdoor recreation along our coasts by restoring coastal habitats, removing marine debris, storing carbon, and creating jobs.
       
    • Established the America the Beautiful Challenge, a $1 billion public-private competitive grant program which funds locally led, voluntary conservation and restoration activities, including the development of outdoor recreation access and workforce development. The first round of grants – totaling $85 million – will be released in November 2022.
       
    • The Interior Department announced more than $61 million in grant funding to communities in 26 cities to create new parks and trails, or substantial renovations to existing parks, through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program. The program, established in 2014 and supported by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, enables urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors in economically underserved communities.
       
    • As the largest Federal provider of water-based outdoor recreation in America, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is investing $120 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022 to improve recreation facilities across the nation. These investments will promote equitable access to outdoor recreation opportunities and support local communities. USACE recreation areas had 268 million visits in the last fiscal year, resulting in spending that supports approximately 217,000 jobs and generates nearly $14.5 billion for local economies.
       
  • Expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities on National Wildlife Refuge System lands and waters.
    • The U.S. Department of the Interior expanded hunting and fishing access on 2.1 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge System lands and waters in 2021, the largest expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities in recent history. The Department is continuing to explore opportunities to provide additional access to refuge system lands. Hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016, according to the Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 101 million Americans — 40 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older — pursue wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.
       
  • Focused acquisitions and improvements of Federal lands and waters under the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) of 2020, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
     
    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced more than $503 million in funding for National Forests and Grasslands. The funds will go to projects to address deferred maintenance and improve campgrounds, trails, and facilities on National Forests. Funds will also be spent on land acquisition to expand recreation opportunities for visitors and strengthen resource protection partnerships with State agencies and private organizations.
       
    • The Department of the Interior announced $279 million to support Federal lands and waters and expand outdoor recreation access utilizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation and resource protection projects.
       
  • Expanded outdoor recreation opportunities by protecting areas for future generations.
     
    • In celebration of National Trails Day, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the designation of nine new National Recreation Trails in seven states, adding nearly 600 miles to the National Trails System.
       
    • Secretary Deb Haaland announced the establishment of the Lost Trail Conservation Area in Northwest Montana as the 568th and newest unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This expansion – the first new unit in the Refuge System for the Biden-Harris Administration – is the culmination of a 20-year, locally-led effort to conserve important big game corridors and recreational areas in the region. The Service worked in partnership with the Trust for Public Land and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) to purchase the 38,052-acre conservation easement from its continuing owner, Southern Pine Plantations.
       
    • The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, and the five Tribes of the Bears Ears Commission formalized their partnership for co-management of the Bears Ears National Monument. The Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Pueblo of Zuni will be joint managers of the National Monument and will receive resources from Federal agencies to participate in and take leadership on the management of their ancestral lands.
       
    • The USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are considering a 20-year withdrawal of 225,000 acres of U.S. Forest System lands in Minnesota to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness – the most visited wilderness area in the country. The Rainy River watershed flows north toward the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park, landscapes renowned for high-quality fishing, wildlife viewing, and recreational opportunities due to the large number of interconnected lakes and pristine water quality. The proposed mineral withdrawal aims to prevent further negative environmental impacts from future mining operations. It also evaluates the impacts of future mining on important social, cultural, and economic values.
       
    • On World Oceans Day, NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad announced NOAA’s initiation of the designation process for a new national marine sanctuary to conserve Hudson Canyon in the Atlantic Ocean. A sanctuary designation would help conserve the area’s rich marine wildlife and habitats, and promote scientific research, ocean education, and recreation opportunities such as whale watching, recreational fishing, and boating.
       
  • Created workforce development opportunities with the establishment of an Indian Youth Service Corps Program.
    • The Biden-Harris Administration announced the launch of the Indian Youth Service Corps Program, which will provide meaningful education, employment, and training opportunities to Indigenous youth through conservation projects on Federal and Indian lands – thereby putting young people on a path to good-paying jobs while helping to address the climate crisis.

Biden-Harris Administration Sets Offshore Energy Records with $4.37 Billion in Winning Bids for Wind Sale

New York Bight lease sale has potential to power nearly two million homes

Republicans like Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is seeking to take over as Governor of New York, are still wedded to fossil fuels and determined if they regain control, to reverse course on efforts to transition to a clean renewable energy economy, society, and environment and stem the tide of climate change. This was clear when Zeldin chided President Joe Biden at a pro-Ukraine rally in Long Island for canceling the Keystone Pipeline, which he somehow suggested would have countered impact of sanctions against Nordstrom 2.

But even as Biden leads a global alliance to counter Putin’s criminal aggression against Ukraine, and makes a historic nomination of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, makes historic investments in infrastructure to clean up the environment, develop the economy, promote competition and address supply chain issues, his administration is forging ahead with historic climate actions. In the latest, the administration reports setting records for offshore energy development with $4.37 billion in winning bids for wind sale.

Of course, the correct answer to reducing dependency on fossil fuel is what the Biden-Harris Administration is doing: transitioning to clean, renewable energy that can be generated in localities, so less vulnerable to geopolitics and cyberattacks.

This is from the Department of the Interior:

Long Island climate activists raise a wind turbine outside Long Island Power Authority’s offices back in 2016 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior announced the results of the nation’s highest-grossing competitive offshore energy lease sale in history, including oil and gas lease sales, with the New York Bight offshore wind sale. These results are a major milestone towards achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. Today’s lease sale offered six lease areas totaling over 488,000 acres in the New York Bight for potential wind energy development and drew competitive winning bids from six companies totaling approximately $4.37 billion.

A recent report indicates that the United States’ growing offshore wind energy industry presents a $109 billion revenue opportunity to businesses in the supply chain over the next decade.

“This week’s offshore wind sale makes one thing clear: the enthusiasm for the clean energy economy is undeniable and it’s here to stay,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The investments we are seeing today will play an important role in delivering on the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis and create thousands of good-paying, union jobs across the nation.”

The provisional winners of today’s lease sale are:

Provisional Winner Lease Area Acres Winning Bid 
OW Ocean Winds East, LLC OCS-A 0537 71,522 $765,000,000 
Attentive Energy LLC OCS-A 0538 84,332 $795,000,000 
Bight Wind Holdings, LLC OCS-A 0539 125,964 $1,100,000,000 
Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight, LLC OCS-A 0541 79,351 $780,000,000 
Invenergy Wind Offshore LLC OCS-A 0542 83,976 $645,000,000 
Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind LLC OCS-A 0544 43,056 $285,000,000 

A map of the lease areas auctioned today can be found on the BOEM website.

Before the leases are finalized, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will conduct an anti-competitiveness review of the auction, and the provisional winners will be required to pay the winning bids and provide financial assurance to Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The New York Bight offshore wind leases include innovative stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain for offshore wind energy and enhance engagement with Tribes, the commercial fishing industry, other ocean users and underserved communities. The stipulations will also advance flexibility in transmission planning. Stipulations include incentives to source major components domestically – such as blades, turbines and foundations – and to enter into project labor agreements to ensure projects are union-built.

“We must have a robust and resilient domestic offshore wind supply chain to deliver good-paying, union jobs and the economic benefits to residents in the region,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “Because we understand the value of meaningful community engagement, we are requiring lessees to report their engagement activities to BOEM, specifically noting how they’re incorporating any feedback into their future plans.”

On Jan. 12, Secretary Haaland, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a shared vision for developing a robust offshore wind energy domestic supply chain that will deliver benefits to residents of New York and New Jersey and the surrounding region, including underserved communities. This collaboration will serve as a model for future engagement and establish the U.S. as a major player in the global offshore wind energy market.

To advance the Interior Department’s environmental justice and economic empowerment goals, lessees will be required to identify and make efforts to engage with Tribes, underserved communities, and other ocean users who could be affected by offshore wind energy development. The Department will hold companies accountable for improving their engagement, communication and transparency with these communities.

These additions are intended to promote offshore wind energy development in a way that coexists with other ocean uses and protects the ocean environment, while also securing our nation’s energy future for generations to come.
BOEM initially asked for information and nominations of commercial interest on 1.7 million acres in the New York Bight. Based on BOEM’s review of scientific data and extensive input from the commercial fishing industry, Tribes, partnering agencies, key stakeholders, and the public, BOEM reduced the acreage offered for lease by 72% to avoid conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts. BOEM will continue to engage with the public, ocean users, and key stakeholders as the process unfolds.

The Administration has already made significant progress toward creating a pipeline of projects. It has approved and celebrated the groundbreaking of the nation’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects in federal waters: the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project and the 130-megawatt South Fork Wind project. BOEM expects to review at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial offshore wind energy facilities by 2025, which would represent more than 22 GW of clean energy for the nation.

In addition, this past fall Secretary Haaland announced a new leasing path forward, which identified up to seven potential lease sales by 2025, including the New York Bight and offshore the Carolinas and California later this year, to be followed by lease sales for the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore Oregon.

More information about today’s auction can be found on BOEM’s website.

FACTS: A Year Advancing Environmental Justice by the Biden Administration

White House Marks Year of Progress Since President Biden Activated All of Government to Advance Environmental Justice

Neighborhood of Breezy Point, on Long Island’s south shore, after Superstorm Sandy. President biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural infrastructure in American history. The law invests over $50 billion to make communities safer and infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change – droughts, heat waves, wildfires and floods – which disproportionately impact communities of color. These investments have already begun flowing to resilience projects in underserved and overburdened communities. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You wouldn’t believe it from the obsessive focus of media – especially right wing media – on griping over inflation in prices over supply chain and increased demand (instead of higher wages and record jobs creation) and the inability to surmount the Republican obstruction over Build Back Better and Voting Rights legislation, but the Biden Administration has chalked up quite a record of progress in major issues, chief among them climate action and environmental justice. Here is a fact sheet from the White House:

Nearly one year ago on January 27, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, laying the foundation for the most ambitious environmental justice agenda ever undertaken by an Administration and putting environmental justice and climate action at the center of the federal government’s work.

The executive order formalized the President and the Vice President’s commitment to ensuring that all federal agencies develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionately high and adverse health, environmental, economic, climate, and other cumulative impacts on communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.

Over the past year, senior administration leaders have worked tirelessly to secure historic and long overdue investments in environmental justice, advance science-based regulations that reduce environmental pollution, strengthen enforcement of the nation’s environmental and civil rights laws, and elevate the voices of environmental justice communities in the White House and throughout the Administration.

Mobilizing a Whole-of-Government Approach to Environmental Justice

  • Delivering on Justice40. As part of the President’s historic commitment to environmental justice, he created the Justice40 Initiative to ensure that federal agencies deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to underserved communities. In total, hundreds of federal programs, representing billions of dollars in annual investment — including programs that were funded or created in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — are being reimagined and transformed to maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities through the Justice40 Initiative. An initial cohort of Justice40 pilot programs are already working to maximize the delivery of benefits to disadvantaged communities, and some agencies are creating new programs to maximize the benefits of climate and clean energy programs directed to disadvantaged communities, such as the Communities LEAP (Local Energy Action Program) Pilot, the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize, and the Energy Storage for Social Equity Initiative. An annual Federal environmental justice scorecard, the first of which will be published this year, will report on agencies’ progress in the implementation of the Justice40 Initiative and other key environmental justice priorities and commitments.
     
  • Building a Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. This screening tool, which will be continuously updated and refined based on public feedback and research, will improve the consistency across the federal government of how agencies implement programs and initiatives that are intended to benefit underserved communities. A beta version of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool will be released for public review and comment early this year.
     
  • Establishing the First-Ever White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. This advisory body – which brings together national environmental justice leaders from across the country – ensures that the voices of overburdened and underserved communities are heard in the White House and reflected in the policies and investments of federal agencies. This body has provided extensive  recommendations that are informing the implementation of the Justice40 Initiative, the development of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, and other policies and programs across the Administration.
     
  • Renewing Focus on Environmental Equity and Justice across the Federal Government.  Agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Labor, the General Services Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have launched new or strengthened equity and justice offices, task forces, strategies and policies. USDA, for example, is standing up an independent Equity Commission to examine USDA programs to identify and make recommendations for how USDA can reduce barriers to access and advance equity. The Commission will also ensure accountability within and empower stakeholders in underserved communities outside of USDA to take fuller advantage of the department’s programs and services. To coordinate, lead, and elevate environmental justice policy and implementation across the government, the Administration has also established the White House Environmental Interagency Council led by Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory.

 
Protecting Communities from Toxic Pollution

  • Advancing an Ambitious Regulatory Agenda. Over the last year, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken more than 200 actions to repair the damage caused by the prior Administration’s rollbacks and implemented an ambitious regulatory agenda to address environmental justice. From revoking usage of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that has negative health impacts on farmworkers and children, to taking action on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a dangerous “forever chemical” linked to certain cancers, weakened immunity, thyroid disease, and other health effects – this Administration has prioritized rulemakings that protect the health and well-being of vulnerable communities. The President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children is also leading and coordinating cross-agency work to reduce pollution burdens and exposures, including lead exposure and asthma disparities in children of color.
     
  • Strengthening Enforcement of Environmental Laws. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken steps to enhance civil and criminal enforcement of environmental violations in communities overburdened by pollution. The EPA, for example, has taken steps to initiate early and expedited cleanup actions, deliver case outcomes that bring tangible benefits to overburdened communities, provide more robust monitoring and transparency tools, and bolster community engagement. The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request for the Department of Justice includes $5.0 million in increased funding for the Environment and Natural Resources Division to expand its use of existing authorities in affirmative cases to advance environmental justice and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change and to continue defensive and other work related to climate change.
     
  • Journey to Justice Tour. In November 2021, EPA Administrator Michael Regan embarked on a “Journey to Justice” tour, traveling to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to spotlight longstanding environmental justice concerns in historically overburdened communities and to hear firsthand from residents dealing with the impacts of pollution. Today, EPA is announcing a series of concrete actions to respond to the communities’ concerns, including more community air pollution monitoring, fenceline monitoring, inspections, and funding commitments.
     
  • Addressing Legacy Pollution. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history. The law will invest $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine lands, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells that are sources of blight and pollution. These investments are happening now. EPA recently announced a historic $1 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to initiate cleanup at 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites and accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country. Approximately 60 percent of the sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects are in historically underserved communities.

Recognizing that millions of Americans live within a mile of one of the tens of thousands of abandoned mines and oil and gas wells across the country, DOI is working to speed the deployment of initial grants from the law’s $16 billion in funding for mine and well clean-ups. DOI recently released initial guidance for states interested in applying for Federal grants that will fund the proper cleanup of orphaned oil and gas wells and well sites, with 26 states responding to express their intent to apply for formula grant funding.

  • Investing in Clean Drinking Water. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will expand access to clean drinking water to all American families, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines, and help to clean up dangerous PFAS chemicals. Specifically, the law will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers all across the country, including in Tribal Nations and rural disadvantaged communities that need it most. These investments will be guided by the Biden-Harris Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, a historic and ambitious effort to deploy catalytic resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law while leveraging every tool across Federal, state, and local government to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes, and remediate lead paint. The plan includes over 15 new actions from more than 10 Federal agencies to ensure the Federal government is marshalling every resource and making rapid progress towards replacing all lead pipes in the next decade. The White House also has developed a whole-of government research plan on contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water that will support safe drinking water advisories, standards, and mitigation efforts that protect public health.
     
  • Improving Air Quality. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken decisive action to improve air quality – especially in disadvantaged communities. EPA has initiated rulemakings to reduce harmful air pollutants from heavy-duty trucks that heavily impact low-income communities and communities of color. EPA has also targeted leaded fuel used in small planes, which contributes to air pollution and accounts for 70 percent of lead borne emissions. In December 2021, EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation launched a $20 million grant competition that calls for proposals to conduct air pollution monitoring in communities experiencing disparities in health outcomes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on behalf of DOT, is proposing revised fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks for model years 2024-2026; DOT estimates that this would increase the average fleet’s fuel efficiency by 12 miles per gallon by model year 2026.  In addition, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $17 billion in modernizing ports and waterways, including funds that will support electrification of port infrastructure and provides the investment needed to deliver thousands of clean school buses to help reduce harmful environmental impacts on communities on the fence line of industry and transportation corridors. The law also provides a $5 billion investment in electric vehicles that will support the deployment of an equitable nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers.

Strengthening Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Change

  • Investing in Community Resilience. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural infrastructure in American history. The law invests over $50 billion to make communities safer and infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change – droughts, heat waves, wildfires and floods – which disproportionately impact communities of color. These investments have already begun flowing to resilience projects in underserved and overburdened communities, including a $163 million investment to restore the Cano Martin Pena urban tidal channel and surrounding areas of the San Juan Bay National Estuary – an urban waterway project that will significantly improve the health and welfare of the surrounding communities in San Juan. In the coming year, the Army Corps will also engage with environmental justice communities in the development of a strategy to allocate $130 million for two pilot programs that target the needs of economically-disadvantaged communities.
     
  • Building a Coordinated Federal Response to Climate Impacts. To address the multi-faceted nature of climate change and its impact on frontline communities, the Biden-Harris Administration launched five cabinet secretary level Resilience Interagency Working Groups under the National Climate Task Force focused on coastal resilience, drought, extreme heat, flood, and wildfire. These Working Groups are tasked with recommending and coordinating actions, programs, and resources to mitigate climate impacts and subsequent recovery challenges that are often felt most heavily by underserved and overburdened communities. For example, the Extreme Heat Working Group was responsible for launching a coordinated, interagency effort to address extreme heat – including the first-ever employer mandates on heat risk –  to respond to extreme heat that threatens the lives and livelihoods of Americans, especially frontline and essential workers, pregnant workers, children, seniors, economically disadvantaged groups and those with underlying health conditions.
     
  • Advancing Equitable Outcomes for Disaster Survivors. Pursuant to Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) evaluated the equity of its programs and processes to reduce barriers to access experienced by underserved populations through programs that provide individual assistance to disaster survivors. Based on this review, FEMA has begun to amend its policies to provide greater flexibility and increase access to assistance for disaster survivors. The policy changes that FEMA is implementing include: expanding the types of documentation that homeowners and renters can use to prove ownership or occupancy; expanding financial assistance for home cleaning and sanitizing as well as for disaster-caused disability; and changing how the threshold for property losses are calculated to qualify for direct housing assistance, which helps ensure that damage evaluations are done in an equitable manner regardless of the size of the damaged home. As of mid-January 2021, these changes have resulted in the delivery of more than $120 million in financial assistance for mold remediation; $22 million for the cleaning and sanitization of homes; and more than 100,000 survivors receiving home repair and rental assistance as a result of expanded ownership and occupancy documentation requirements.  
     
  • Bolstering Tribal Community Resilience. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes historic investments in Indigenous communities’ efforts to tackle the climate crisis and boost the resilience of physical and natural systems. Enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Administration recently committed $40 million to the Espanola Valley, Rio Grande and Tributaries, New Mexico to restore and protect 958 acres of aquatic and riparian habitats that are an integral part of constructing social identity and transmission and retention of traditional knowledge for both the Pueblo of Santa Clara and Ohkay Owingeh. As part of this broader commitment to Tribal community resilience, DOI also recently awarded nearly $14 million to dozens of American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations and organizations to support their climate adaptation planning, ocean and coastal management planning, capacity building, and relocation, managed retreat, and protect-in-place planning for climate risks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has invited Tribal leaders to consult on the agency’s implementation of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, including $400 million to enhance fish passage (of which up to 15 percent will go directly to Tribes), $492 million to improve and restore natural infrastructure through the National Coastal Resilience Fund, and $172 million to support recovery of Pacific coastal salmon. Further, the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget includes an increase of more than $450 million to facilitate climate mitigation, resilience, adaptation, and environmental justice projects in Indian Country. This includes investments to begin the process of transitioning Tribal colleges to renewable energy through DOE, and a new Indian Land Consolidation Program through DOI that will enhance the ability of Tribal Nations to plan for and adapt to climate change and promote economic development on lands restored to Tribal ownership.
     
  • Empowering Communities with Actionable Climate Data. The Biden-Harris Administration launched a whole-of-government initiative to deliver accessible and actionable information to individuals and communities that are being hit by flooding, drought, wildfires, extreme heat, coastal erosion, and other intensifying climate impacts. This effort is designed to put authoritative and useful information into the hands of more Americans—from broadcast meteorologists sharing climate information with communities, to farmers checking drought outlooks, to businesses planning for extreme weather, to families making decisions about their homes and neighborhoods. By continuing to strengthen partnerships with community stakeholders, state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, and businesses, the Biden-Harris Administration will ensure that Federal information services respond to evolving needs, particularly those of disadvantaged communities.

 
Delivering Clean, Affordable Energy

  • Lowering Energy Burdens. The Biden-Harris Administration has provided $8.2 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to States, Territories, Tribes, and Tribal Organizations, including $4.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). Combined, these funds more than doubled the typical annual appropriations—the largest increase in the program’s history—to assist low-income households with meeting their home energy needs. HHS followed this with guidance providing flexible options for states, territories, Tribes, and Tribal organizations to adjust their LIHEAP programs to address extreme heat. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law doubles down on the Administration’s commitment to lowering energy burdens by investing: an additional $500 million in LIHEAP, which will prioritize eligible households with young children, the elderly, and people with disabilities; and a historic $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring health and safety and creating jobs.
     
  • Increasing Access to Clean Energy. The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized the deployment of distributed and community scale energy resources in the underserved and overburdened communities that need them most. The Department of Agriculture launched the Rural Energy Pilot Program with $10 million in available grants for rural communities that are particularly underserved to deploy community-scale clean energy technologies, innovations, and solutions. DOE launched the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+) tool, an online platform that enables jurisdictions to rapidly approve residential solar installation permits. EPA launched new residential sector partnerships to accelerate efficiency and electrification retrofits with a focus on underserved residential households through its ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade Program. To coordinate these interagency actions, the Biden-Harris Administration launched a Distributed Energy Resources Working Group under the National Climate Task Force focused specifically on accelerating deployment of distributed energy resources in disadvantaged communities.
     
  • Modernizing the Grid. FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working collaboratively with the government of Puerto Rico to administer over $12 billion of Federal recovery funds earmarked for rebuilding and improving Puerto Rico’s grid. These funds are being used to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and support initiatives in Puerto Rico that focus on mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. DOE and FEMA have also launched a comprehensive study to evaluate pathways to meeting Puerto Rico’s 100 percent renewable energy targets in a way that achieves both short-term recovery goals and long-term energy resilience. The study, titled PR100, will be grounded in a commitment to environmental and energy justice and informed by extensive engagement with Puerto Rico stakeholders to reflect the island’s diverse priorities.

 
Enabling Equitable and Sustainable Communities

  • Increasing Affordable Transportation Options. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law expands access to public transit and makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak – a major investment in transit equity. The law will invest $66 billion to provide healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding rail networks across the country. The law also provides $1.2 billion annually through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program to fund Vision Zero plans and construct projects that will prevent transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries, which disproportionately impact rural communities and communities of color.  To ensure these funds facilitate equitable outcomes, DOT has solicited input from stakeholders on the data and assessment tools available to assess transportation equity.  The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also includes investments for a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic transportation investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access. DOT also requested $110 million in its Fiscal Year 22 budget to create a new Thriving Communities program that would establish a new office to support communities with eliminating persistent transportation barriers and increasing access to jobs, school, and businesses.
     
  • Tackling Segregation, Discrimination, and Exclusion. The Biden-Harris Administration has restored the implementation of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” requirement, which requires HUD and its funding recipients, such as local communities, to take affirmative steps to remedy fair housing issues such as racially segregated neighborhoods, lack of housing choice, and unequal access to housing-related opportunities. HUD anticipates issuing a proposed rule that would help recipients of HUD funding identify needs and take meaningful actions to overcome patterns of residential segregation. To increase access to affordable housing, DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of approximately $10 million in competitive grant funds for FTA’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning. The funds will support comprehensive planning efforts that help connect communities, and improve access to public transportation and affordable housing.
     
  • Investing in Healthy Housing and Buildings. The American Rescue Plan provided State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that dozens of states and cities have used to develop and preserve affordable housing, as well as support for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions that provide housing finance. Last week, the President launched the National Building Performance Standards Coalition to work with stakeholders, especially frontline communities, to address health, energy affordability, and emissions reductions goals across the buildings sector. Coalition members have agreed to ground their climate work in equity and justice through community-driven processes providing a voice for communities that were previously not invited to the table. These efforts will be bolstered by the more than $1.8 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support building sector policies, including $500 million for DOE’s State Energy Program, which provides funding and technical assistance to state, local, and Tribal governments to advance state-led energy initiatives; $550 million for DOE’s Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program to assist eligible governments to develop, promote, implement, and manage energy efficiency and conservation policy and projects in their jurisdiction; $250 million for grants to capitalize state-level revolving loan funds for energy efficiency; and $500 million for competitive grants to fund efficiency and renewable improvements in public school facilities.

President Biden Shows Benefits of Federal-Local Government Partnership in Address to US Conference of Mayors

President Joe Biden addresses 200 mayors at the US Conference of Mayors: “You understand the cost if we fail to act.  We need the voice of mayors telling the stories of what your communities need, and the impact we’re making on people’s lives or not making.  If we can get this done — I believe this with every fiber of my being: If we can get this done, there’s no limit what Americans can achieve.  So, let’s continue to give working families a fighting chance.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

On January 21, President Biden addressed over 200 bipartisan mayors during their annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Winter Meeting. This was the President’s first time addressing the entire USCM since taking office. At this year’s convening, the President highlighted the strong partnership between his Administration and mayors during the past year to tackle unprecedented crises, rebuild the economy, and deliver results for working families. The President also discussed ways to further partner with cities on implementing the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the importance of passing the Build Back Better Act. 

Here is an edited transcript of President Biden’s remarks:

Mayors carry the quality of the people’s lives on your shoulders.

Everything you do every day affects their lives more than almost anything anybody else does.  And you can make or break a person’s day.  “Will the bus get me home on time?”  It sounds silly but, “Will the garbage get be picked up?”  “Will I be safe walking in the park?”

These are the bigger questions: “Can I afford to give my family a good life?”  “Will my kids have a chance to get a good job someday?”  “How will I rebuild from the fire or the storm?”

You know, all of these questions, they’re not partisan, but they’re practical.  People they look to are you…

That’s why, when I put together my Cabinet, I called on former mayors –Tom Vilsack was a governor; he was also a mayor.  Marcia Fudge, a mayor. Marty Walsh a mayor in Boston.  Pete Buttigieg was a mayor.  And I picked Mitch Landrieu to oversee the implementation of the infrastructure law, which is over a $1.2 trillion, because he knows how mayors get things done. (Applause.) .. Because mayors know the measure of success isn’t scoring partisan points, it’s did you fix the problem…

 
The infrastructure law is a perfect example of what we can achieve when we tackle problems the way mayors do.  Everybody in America knows we’ve fallen behind on infrastructure.  So we came together — Democrats and Republicans — and did something about it…

And, by the way, I want to thank you all.  More than 360 of you signed a letter that was sent to me when we were trying to get this legislation passed.  Three hundred and sixty of you.  You lobbied Congress to get it done, and it’s the reason it got done…  

And now, after years of dead-ends and broken promises, not only has “Infrastructure Week” finally arrived — (applause) — but we can literally, because of you, look forward to an “Infrastructure Decade.”…

We’ve announced billions of dollars for highways, ports, airports, water and sewage systems, high-speed Internet; funding to clean up the rivers in Ohio, chemical plants and sites in Florida, polluted lakes in Michigan and dozens of other sites; a new program to cap and plug orphaned oil and gas wells spewing methane into the air, cleaning up the communities that, in fact, they’re affecting, while [creating] good-paying jobs…

A new initiative to bolster our energy grid with stronger transmission lines and towers to keep the power flowing more reliably and, consequentially, more secure energy supply…

You know, more forest, homes, buildings, and businesses have been burned to the ground than make up — if you’re taking the square miles — than the entire state of New Jersey, from New York all the way down to Cape Henlopen.  That’s how much has burned to the ground.  A lot of it because of the lack of resilience in those towers that get blown over and the wires snap…


Last week, we rolled out a historic investments in our nation’s bridges, like the one I visited in New Hampshire, where restrictions forced school buses and fire trucks to go 10 miles out of their way just to get across a small river…

We’re going to upgrade thousands of bridges, creating good-paying jobs, cutting commute times, ensuring that as we build back, no community gets left behind.

Folks, that mayor’s view of problem-solving is exactly what we brought to the American Rescue Plan.  It’s designed so that you’d be able to have the resources and the flexibility to take both the short-term and long-term challenges created by this pandemic. A major part of the Rescue Plan was the $350 billion we allocated to state and local budgets.  And again, because of you, over $100 billion of that went directly to cities and counties, not through anybody.  (Applause.)  A hundred billion.

It was not easy to get done, but it was important to get done because you know it’s needed.  You didn’t have to go through your state legislature — or your governor – to get the money.

Today, communities are still putting those funds to work — keeping people on the job, connecting people to better jobs…

Use your funds to cover childcare costs or temporary paid leave to help certain workers dealing with Omicron; to build pathways to better jobs through union-based apprenticeships and on-the-job training; to give people in every ZIP code a chance to deal for themselves and deal them into this booming economy.

That also means building more affordable housing so people can have safe places closer to their jobs.

Funding proven programs to help fight violent crime.  We shouldn’t be cutting funding for police departments.  I proposed increasing funding… 


The truth is we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us this year.  We still have a lot of work to do to defeat COVID, to bring down costs for families.

But just look at what we’ve accomplished together so far, even in the face of those headwinds.

In 2021, more jobs are created in America than ever in a single year in American history.  More jobs — over 6 million.  The unemployment rate dropped more than any year in American history.  (Applause.)   

Income — incomes for folks working frontline jobs in service industries rose more than any year in history — the folks at the bottom of the economic rung.

We lowered child poverty in this country by nearly 40 percent — more than any time in U.S. history.  (Applause.)  

You all know this: Business applications grew by nearly 30 percent last year — more than any year in history.  If they’re saying everything is so bad, why are people fighting to open businesses?

More Americans gained health insurance than any year in history.

These are facts. 

To confront the climate crisis, we deployed more solar wind, batteries, and electric vehicles than ever, ever before.

And we’re teaming up with mayors, labor, and industry to save families and businesses money by improving energy efficiency in our buildings.

And in the battle against the deadly virus, we’ve gone from putting 2 million shots — vaccinations – in people’s arms to 210 million Americans fully vaccinated. (Applause.)

And you mayors have been critical partners…

And we still face tremendous challenges, though.  But together, we’ve proven that we can get big things done in this country.

Last year, with your help, we laid the groundwork.  This year, we have to build it.  The biggest weapon in our arsenal is the Build Back Better Act. Nothing is going to do more to ease pressure on families…

Every mayor knows if people can’t find and afford childcare, they can’t work.  (Applause.)  Some of your cities, it’s 14-, 15,000 bucks a year for childcare.  That’s why we have nearly 1.2 million extremely qualified women who haven’t been able to return to the workforce.

We can cut the cost of childcare in half and fix that problem.

Health insurance: We can reduce the cost for families — and we’ve done for $600 per year.

On climate: Extreme weather disasters cost communities $145 billion last year.  That’s how much we spent because of weather-related crises.  $145 billion.  By investing in resilience and clean energy technology, we can do something about that.

To give relief to families, in the American Rescue Plan we had the Childcare Tax Credit.  That did reduce child poverty by 40 percent.  There’s no reason it shouldn’t continue.  (Applause.)

And on education — on education: Today, about half of the three- and four-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education…

We can do this and more on healthcare, nutrition, and a host of other issues.

And, folks, here’s the point: We can do it without increasing inflation or the deficit.

Seventeen Nobel laureates in economics wrote a letter to me recently, affirming that this bill would reduce inflationary pressures on the economy, not increase — reduce it.  (Applause.)

And by the way — by the way, it’s entirely paid for.  (Applause.)  Every single penny.  (Applause.)  And not a single person making less than $400,000 a year will pay a single additional penny in federal taxes.  Not a single penny.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, I’m a capitalist.  I’m not a socialist.  If you can make $1 billion or $10 million, good for you.  Just begin to pay your fair share.  Pay a little bit.  (Applause.)

We can pay for all this by just making sure that the wealthy — making sure that the wealthy and the biggest corporations pay their fair share…

Look, we can tackle all these challenges just like we did with the Rescue Plan, the infrastructure law, and the fight against COVID, but we can’t do it without you… 

You understand the cost if we fail to act.  We need the voice of mayors telling the stories of what your communities need, and the impact we’re making on people’s lives or not making.  If we can get this done — I believe this with every fiber of my being: If we can get this done, there’s no limit what Americans can achieve.  So, let’s continue to give working families a fighting chance. 

Historic Wind Energy Auction Offshore NY, NJ Has Potential to Power 2 Million Homes With Clean, Renewable Energy

New York Bight lease sale has potential to generate up to seven gigawatts of clean energy, power nearly two million homes

Long Island activists, in 2017, cheer an agreement by Long Island Power Authority to move forward with offshore wind power. Then the Trump administration stalled progress. Now the Biden Administration announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold a wind auction in February for more than 480,000 acres offshore New York and New Jersey, in the area known as the New York Bight, that is projected to produce 5.6 to 7 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 2 million homes © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com


WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced today that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold a wind auction next month for more than 480,000 acres offshore New York and New Jersey, in the area known as the New York Bight. Secretary Haaland was joined by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, and Liz Shuler, President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, to highlight what will be the first offshore wind lease sale under the Biden-Harris administration.
 
The Feb. 23 auction will allow offshore wind developers to bid on six lease areas – the most areas ever offered in a single auction – as described in BOEM’s Final Sale Notice. Leases offered in this sale could result in 5.6 to 7 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 2 million homes. As offshore wind technology continues to advance, these areas may have the potential to produce even more clean energy.
 
“The Biden-Harris administration has made tackling the climate crisis a centerpiece of our agenda, and offshore wind opportunities like the New York Bight present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight climate change and create good-paying, union jobs in the United States,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “We are at an inflection point for domestic offshore wind energy development. We must seize this moment – and we must do it together.”
 
On today’s call, the leaders outlined a shared vision for developing a robust offshore wind domestic supply chain that will deliver benefits to residents of New York and New Jersey and the surrounding region, including underserved communities. This collaboration will serve as a model for future engagement and establish the U.S. as a major player in the global offshore wind market.
 
The Biden-Harris administration’s goal to install 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 is complemented by state offshore wind policies and actions throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Collectively, New York and New Jersey have set the nation’s largest regional offshore wind target of installing over 16 GW of offshore wind by 2035.
 
“Offshore wind holds the tremendous promise for our future in terms of climate change, economic growth, strengthening our work force, and job creation,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “New Jersey is already committed to creating nearly one-quarter of the nation’s offshore wind-generation market and these transformative projects are proof that climate action can drive investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, while creating good-paying, union jobs. By acting on this this shared vision, we can promote our joint offshore wind goals, and deliver benefits to residents of both states, particularly those in overburdened communities. Together, with this critical cooperation with the Biden-Harris administration and our state partners, we will turn this vision of becoming a leader in the global offshore wind market into a reality.”
 
“Here in New York, we are already living with the disastrous effects of climate change through extreme weather that pose a direct threat to our way of life,” said Governor Hochul. “We must chart an ambitious path toward a cleaner energy economy now more than ever, and today’s milestone further highlights New York’s commitment creating a greener tomorrow. This effort will require collaboration at all levels, and I applaud the Biden Administration for their action and thank Secretary Haaland and BOEM, as well as New Jersey Governor Murphy, for their partnership as we confront the climate crisis.”
 
recent report indicates that the United States’ growing offshore wind industry presents a $109 billion opportunity in revenue to businesses in the supply chain over the next decade.   
 
The New York Bight offshore wind auction will include several innovative lease stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain for offshore wind and enhance engagement with Tribes, the commercial fishing industry, other ocean users, and underserved communities. The stipulations will also advance flexibility in transmission planning and make use of project labor agreements throughout the construction of offshore wind projects. Stipulations include incentives to source major components domestically – such as blades, turbines, and foundations – and to enter into project labor agreements to ensure projects are union-built.
 
To advance the Department’s environmental justice and economic empowerment goals, the Sale Notice also requires lessees to identify Tribes, underserved communities and other ocean users who could be affected by offshore wind development. The Interior Department will hold companies accountable for improving their engagement, communication and transparency with these communities.
 
These additions are intended to promote offshore wind development in a way that coexists with other ocean uses and protects the ocean environment, while also facilitating our nation’s energy future for generations to come. 
 
BOEM initially asked for information and nominations of commercial interest for 1,735,154 acres in the Bight. Based on the bureau’s review of scientific data, and extensive input from the commercial fishing industry, Tribes, partnering agencies, key stakeholders, and the public, BOEM reduced the acreage by 72% to avoid conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts. BOEM will continue to engage with stakeholders as the process unfolds.
 
More information about the auction, lease stipulations, list of qualified bidders for the auction and Interior’s collaboration with New York and New Jersey can be found on BOEM’s website.
 
The Biden-Harris administration catalyzed the offshore wind industry by announcing the first-ever national offshore wind energy goal, creating a clear vision for the future of this innovative industry. This goal is reinforced by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will make robust investments in sustainable economies, clean energy, and climate resilience.
 
The Administration has already made significant progress toward creating a pipeline of projects. It has approved the nation’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects in federal waters: the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project (approved on May 11, 2021) and the 130-megawatt South Fork Wind project (approved on November 24, 2021). BOEM expects to review at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial offshore wind energy facilities by 2025, which would represent more than 22 GW of clean energy for the nation.
 
This past fall Secretary Haaland announced a new leasing path forward, which identified up to seven potential lease sales by 2025, including the New York Bight and offshore the Carolinas and California later this year, to be followed by lease sales for the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore Oregon.

In addition, Governor Hochul announced plans to invest in offshore wind infrastructure, procure enough wind energy to power at least 1.5 million homes, initiate planning for an offshore wind transmission network, and launch the offshore wind Master Plan 2.0 Deep Water in her 2022 State of the State address. This will ensure that the state has the strongest offshore wind energy market along the Eastern Seaboard. The Governor’s plan for offshore wind will support more than 6,800 jobs, a combined economic impact of $12.1 billion statewide, and more than 4.3 gigawatts of energy, enough to power nearly 3 million homes in New York.

Biden-Harris Administration Races to Deploy Clean Energy that Creates Jobs, Lowers Costs for Consumers, Industry

New Actions Advance Offshore Wind, Leverage Public Lands for Clean Energy, and Build the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Transmission Lines
 

Long Island activists in 2016 protesting for offshore wind, solar energy projects at Long Island Power Authority headquarters. Projects put on hold during Trump administration, have now gotten back on the fast track by the Biden Administration, bringing a whole-of-government approach. The Department of the Interior is holding a record-breaking offshore wind lease sale, with the most lease areas ever offeredin the New York Bight off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. The upcoming lease sale is projected to generate up to 7 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy, power two million homes, and create thousands of jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, and service industries in nearby communities © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

When President Biden came into office nearly a year ago, he pulled every lever to position America to scale up clean energy that creates good-paying, union jobs and lowers energy bills for consumers. Since then, the Biden-Harris Administration has readied offshore areas to harness power from wind, approved new solar projects on public lands, and passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build thousands of miles of transmission lines that deliver clean energy.
 
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is making major leaps forward on wind, solar, transmission, and other clean energy projects to create high-quality jobs and deliver affordable, carbon pollution-free electricity across the country. Seven federal agencies are announcing clean energy projects and plans that demonstrate the Administration’s unwavering commitment to creating cleaner and cheaper energy, and the actions showcase President Biden’s unprecedented coordination activating the entire government to fight climate change, produce good-paying, union jobs, and accelerate America’s clean energy economy.
 
These actions include:

  • The Department of the Interior is holding a record-breaking offshore wind lease sale, with the most lease areas ever offered, in the New York Bight off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. The upcoming lease sale is projected to generate up to 7 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy, power two million homes, and create thousands of jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, and service industries in nearby communities. The sale includes innovative lease provisions that will lead to offshore wind projects being built with union labor and Made in America materials. Working together, New York, New Jersey and the federal government will build on these new lease stipulations through a new federal-state partnership that will ensure local residents—including underserved communities—benefit from new developments.
     
  • A number of agencies are working together to drive the rapid build-up of offshore wind—a brand new U.S. clean energy industry that can create nearly 80,000 good-paying jobs by 2030. For example, the Department of Transportation recently announced port investments to help develop areas that will be used to build and stage offshore wind turbine components, and efforts are underway across the Departments of Commerce, the Interior, and Energy to promote biodiversity and cooperative ocean use and support innovation across the supply chain.
     
  • The Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency are forming a new collaboration to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reviews of clean energy projects on public lands, in order to expand solar, onshore wind, and geothermal energy, building on the Department of the Interior’s approvals over the past year of 18 onshore projects that will deliver 4.175 GW of clean energy.
     
  • The Department of Energy is launching a new Building a Better Grid initiative to accelerate the deployment of new transmission lines—as enabled by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Lawto connect more Americans to cleaner, cheaper energy. This transmission buildout will make our grid more reliable and resilient in the face of intensifying extreme weather and is critical to achieving the President’s goal of 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035.
     
  • To ensure that these benefits reach all Americans, the Department of Agriculture is creating a new pilot program to support clean energy in underserved rural communities and the Department of Commerce is awarding American Rescue Plan funds to support regional coalitions to grow new industry clusters focused on clean energy deployment and job training. And the release of a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that the Administration’s SolarAPP+ tool is reducing permitting times for residential installations to less than one day, helping local governments fast-track rooftop solar. 

Today’s announcements build on a year of unprecedented progress on clean energy deployment. Before President Biden took office, projects were stalled and agencies were hollowed out. But during his first week, the President issued an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which mobilized the entire federal government to activate and deploy clean energy so that Americans can reap the immense climate and economic benefits of the clean energy future.
 
The Administration continues to use every tool available to deploy clean energy at a record pace. But to fully seize the opportunities of a clean energy economy, President Biden is pressing forward on passing the Build Back Better Act. The historic legislation will amount to the nation’s largest investment in combatting climate change, lowering energy costs for working families, and building a clean energy future. It will support domestic manufacturing of wind turbines, solar panels, and other clean technologies; invest in workforce development programs to launch careers in these growing industries; and provide a historic set of clean energy tax credits that are more powerful and accessible. With these investments, the U.S. will lead the world on innovative climate solutions and save the average American family hundreds of dollars each year in energy costs.
 
As work continues to pass the Build Back Better Act, today’s announcements further the Administration’s ongoing commitment to powering our economy with clean American energy:
 
ADVANCING OFFSHORE WIND TO CREATE JOBS
 
To deploy offshore wind at the speed and scale necessary to achieve our climate goals and create tens of thousands of jobs, the Administration is announcing:
 

  • Record-Breaking Lease Sale in the New York Bight. Last year, the Administration established a Wind Energy Area in the New York Bight off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. Today, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is announcing the Final Sale Notice of six commercial lease areas—the most ever offered—with the potential to generate 5.6 to 7 GW of clean energy across 488,201 acres. Innovative leasing provisions will encourage winning bidders to enter into Project Labor Agreements (PLA) that support union jobs. They also will financially incentivize lessees to utilize wind turbine blades, towers, and cables made in America. To promote meaningful stakeholder engagement, lessees must identify any Tribes, ocean users, underserved communities, and others potentially affected by projects and report on engagement activities.  
     
  • New State-Federal Partnership. Today, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to celebrate progress in the New York Bight and announce a new collaboration between BOEM, New York, and New Jersey on offshore wind with a focus on job creation and environmental justice. Through a new shared vision and working group, these partners will work together on strengthening regional supply chains and delivering benefits to underserved communities.
     
  • DOT Port Investments for Manufacturing and Staging Hubs. The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently awarded Port Infrastructure Development Program Grants to two hubs that will strengthen the U.S. offshore wind supply chain. In Virginia, the Portsmouth Marine Terminal will receive $20 million to construct staging and storage areas for wind turbine components—supporting union jobs for dockworkers, crane operators, and building trades members. In New York, the Port of Albany will receive $29.5 million for the Offshore Wind Tower Manufacturing Port Project, which will develop vacant areas along the Hudson River for a first-of-its-kind U.S. facility for fabrication and assembly of offshore wind towers, creating hundreds of jobs in construction, manufacturing, and maritime activities. DOT announced in March 2021 that this discretionary port funding would be available to support offshore wind activities, and that climate and environmental justice considerations would factor into the review process. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law significantly increases funding for the Port Infrastructure Development Program Grants to expand federal investments in ports.
     
  • Funding for Innovative Supply Chain and Maintenance Projects. The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium is awarding over $3 million to six offshore wind R&D projects, bringing total investment through NOWRDC over the past year to $14 million. The competitive awards will fund three new supply chain projects to facilitate U.S. manufacturing, ensure quality component production, and simplify transportation of major wind plant components. Three additional projects will support asset monitoring and inspection to reduce operational costs for offshore wind farms. The NOWRDC was established in 2018 with a $20.5 million Department of Energy (DOE) investment and matching funds from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), with follow-on contributions from state agencies in Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Jersey—all resulting in approximately $48 million in committed funds.
     
  • NOAA-BOEM Memorandum of Understanding. The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and BOEM are entering an interagency agreement to collaboratively advance offshore wind energy while protecting biodiversity and promoting cooperative ocean use. This partnership underscores NOAA and BOEM’s commitment to leverage their resources and expertise to responsibly deploy 30 GW by 2030 in a way that protects environmental quality, creates jobs, and advances environmental justice.
     
  • DOE Report Underscoring Need for Continued Offshore Wind Investment. The Department of Energy will be issuing a report on “Offshore Wind Energy Strategies: Regional and National Strategies to Maximize the Effectiveness, Reliability, and Sustainability of U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Development and Operation.” It outlines five strategic priorities for tapping into the enormous potential for growth and job creation in the offshore wind industry: expanding targeted federal incentives, reducing costs through innovation, improving siting and permitting processes, investing in supply chain development, and facilitating grid integration of offshore wind projects. The President’s Build Back Better Act would advance these priorities with expanded investment and production tax credits for offshore wind deployment, advanced manufacturing credits to incentivize Made in America wind turbine components, and investments across transmission planning, port infrastructure, and improved leasing and permitting processes.

These actions follow a year of interagency collaboration to jumpstart the U.S. offshore wind industry—in 2021, the Administration: 

  • Launched an offshore wind strategy to achieve a new national target of deploying 30 GW by 2030 and create jobs up and down the supply chain, from factories in the heartland to shipyards on the coasts.
     
  • Approved the nation’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects, Vineyard Wind 1 and South Fork Wind, which will be built by a highly skilled, well-paid union workforce. 
     
  • Developed a roadmap for holding seven offshore wind lease sales and completing reviews of 16 multi-billion dollar offshore wind projects—representing 22 GW of clean energy—by 2025.

Moving ahead in 2022, BOEM will conduct reviews of wind energy areas offshore northern California (Humboldt) and central California (Morro Bay); explore new potential Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coasts of Oregon and the central Atlantic; and advance lease sales in the Carolina Long Bay and offshore California.
 
FAST-TRACKING CLEAN ENERGY ONSHORE

America’s public lands have substantial potential to support solar, wind, and geothermal energy projects. As part of ongoing efforts to advance these projects in an environmentally sound way and in close collaboration with community stakeholders, the Administration is announcing:

  • Five-Agency Collaboration to Expedite Reviews. The Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency have issued a new Memorandum of Understanding to improve federal agency coordination and prioritize reviews for renewable energy projects located on public lands managed by the Interior and Agriculture Departments. This collaboration will expedite decision-making by establishing interagency coordination teams with qualified staff to facilitate environmental reviews and other federal reviews.
     
  • Renewable Energy Coordination Offices. The Department of the Interior is developing plans for new Renewable Energy Coordination Offices (RECOs), authorized by the Energy Act of 2020. The RECOs will realign Bureau of Land Management resources to consolidate renewable energy work, and support collaboration on public lands renewable energy project permitting across Interior and other federal agencies.
     
  • Major Progress toward 25 GW by 2025. Since President Biden took office, the Administration has approved 18 onshore projects totaling 4.175 GW (including eight located on public lands and ten with interconnection lines on public lands) and initiated processing of another 54 priority projects with the potential to add at least 27.5 GW of clean energy. Most recently, the Bureau of Land Management approved the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects in California, which will provide up to 465 megawatts of electricity with up to 400 megawatts of battery storage. With today’s actions, the Administration will continue advancing toward the goal of permitting 25 GW of solar, onshore wind, and geothermal energy on public lands by 2025.

BUILDING CLEAN TRANSMISSION LINES

The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest-ever investment in America’s power grid, including funding to build out thousands of miles of new transmission lines that are critical to unlocking clean energy resources and providing American homes, schools, and businesses with electricity that is more affordable and reliable in the face of extreme weather, wildfires, and other disasters. 

To harness the new funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, today the Department of Energy is announcing a coordinated transmission deployment program, which will catalyze nationwide buildout of long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines. As outlined in a new Notice of Intent, the pillars of the “Building a Better Grid” initiative are:
 

  • Financing transmission lines and other grid upgrades, including through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s new $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program, a revolving fund for new, replacement, or upgraded transmission lines; $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, focused on advanced technologies that increase capacity and enhance flexibility of the existing grid; and more than $10 billion in grants for states, Tribes, and utilities to enhance grid resilience and prevent power outages. DOE will also leverage existing financing, including the $3.25 billion Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) Transmission Infrastructure Program, which facilitates deployment of renewable energy in WAPA’s 15-state service territory, and a number of loan guarantee programs through the Loan Programs Office.  
     
  • Strengthening coordination with state and local governments, Tribal nations, and other stakeholders, including through participation in regional convenings with independent system operators (ISOs), regional transmission organizations (RTOs), state regulatory commissions, utilities, and others.
     
  • Modernizing transmission planning to drive investment to the highest-need projects, including through a new National Transmission Planning Study, National Transmission Needs Study, Offshore Wind Transmission Study, and expanded technical assistance to help states and regions with policy implementation.
     
  • Improving permitting processes, in coordination with the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force and other federal initiatives, including by helping developers provide early information to permitting agencies; using public-private partnerships to advance new transmission lines and system upgrades; and designating National Corridors in areas with transmission capacity constraints that harm consumers.
     
  • Supporting research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of next-generation transmission technology, including through collaborations with the National Laboratories and industry partners.

Last year, the Administration laid the foundation for these efforts by revitalizing Department of Energy transmission financing assistance programs and through Department of Transportation actions to help states host transmission lines along public highways and other transportation rights-of-way.

DELIVERING BENEFITS TO COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY

The Administration has prioritized clean energy deployment in rural communities, providing financing for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to install solar arrays and other clean energy infrastructure and for grid upgrades across rural areas. To build on these investments, the Department of Agriculture is creating a new Rural Energy Pilot Program with $10 million in available grants for rural communities that are particularly underserved to deploy community-scale clean energy technologies, innovations, and solutions. This upcoming pilot program will also help economically distressed rural communities conduct community energy planning to advance local goals for clean, affordable, and reliable power.

Additionally, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is driving historic economic recovery from the pandemic—including by helping communities create new jobs and industries in clean energy. The Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently announced the finalists for Phase 1 of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, which uses American Rescue Plan funds to support regional industry clusters that will promote equitable economic growth and workforce development. The finalists include 14 regional coalitions focused on clean energy and other climate-related industries, which will receive a combined $7 million in planning grants and compete to win awards of $25 million to $100 million for implementation. Among these finalists are projects to reuse abandoned mine lands for solar, wind, and geothermal energy generation; utilize offshore wind as a power source for hydrogen production in industrial areas; and support clean energy job training, entrepreneurship, and innovation in areas historically dependent on fossil fuel economies.

The Administration is also helping local governments speed up approvals for rooftop solar in order to unlock economic and health benefits for their communities. In July 2021, the Department of Energy launched the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+) tool, an online platform that enables jurisdictions to rapidly approve residential solar installation permits. Now, a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that in a pilot conducted in Arizona and California, the SolarAPP+ tool reduced the average permit review time to less than one day. More than 125 localities have already signed up to consider using SolarAPP+, and the Department of Energy is continuing to recruit additional communities across the country.  

Biden-Harris Administration Celebrates Expansion of Locally-Led Conservation Efforts in First Year of ‘America the Beautiful’ Initiative

New York State’s Adirondacks. Since President Biden announced the first-ever national goal to conserve at least 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030, states, Tribes, local governments, and private sector leaders across the country have advanced the effort, forging their own paths to conserve, connect, and restore more lands and waters. New York State lawmakers passed legislation setting a goal that would conserve at least 30 percent of the State’s land by 2030 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration issued a progress report highlighting land and water projects underway as the  nation pursues its first-ever National Conservation Goal:

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration issued its first annual progress report on the America the Beautiful initiative, highlighting steps the Administration has taken over the past year to support locally-led and voluntary efforts to conserve, connect, and restore lands and waters across the nation that sustain the health of our communities, power local economies, and help combat climate change.

Released by the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the report outlines the collective work to pursue the first-ever national conservation goal established by a President – a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The federal actions and activities described in the progress report align with the America the Beautiful initiative’s guiding principles, which include commitments to honor the nation’s conservation traditions, private property rights, the sovereignty of Tribal Nations, and the values and priorities of local communities.

In particular, the report centers on work that federal agencies are undertaking around six areas of focus: creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities; building connectivity and corridors for fish and wildlife; supporting Tribally-led conservation and restoration; increasing access for outdoor recreation; incentivizing voluntary conservation; creating jobs and growing local economies; and deploying nature to increase climate resilience and remove carbon from the atmosphere. The report also includes a brief review of land-cover changes and the status of fish and wildlife habitats and populations.

The report also reviews steps the Administration took this year to restore protections for important natural and cultural resources; to deepen partnerships and leverage resources with Tribes, states, private landowners, and other stakeholders; to restore science and incorporate Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge into decision-making; and to take an inclusive and collaborative approach to the stewardship of the land and water resources that sustain the nation’s communities and economies. 

Notably, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a major boost to the America the Beautiful initiative. The new law provides the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history and will help communities be more prepared for drought and wildfire; address the legacy of pollution from orphan wells and abandoned mines; invest in clean drinking water; fund watershed rehabilitation and flood prevention projects; and improve coastal resilience efforts.

ADDITIONAL AGENCY ACTION

In addition to the progress report, the Biden-Harris Administration is also announcing today several steps to ensure that the America the Beautiful initiative is both guided by and reflective of the priorities, needs, and inputs of local communities, Tribes, States, landowners, hunters and fishers, and other important stakeholders. These steps are:

  • Gathering Public Input on the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas. As initially described in the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful May 2021 report, the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas will be a tool to provide a more accessible and comprehensive picture of conservation and restoration work nationwide. The co-lead agencies are initiating a formal comment period to collect input specific to the development of the Atlas, recognizing that many uses of lands and waters can be consistent with the long-term health of natural systems and contribute to addressing climate change and environmental injustices. This period will include a 60-day public comment period and public listening sessions in the first quarter of 2022.  More details will be available in the coming weeks in the Federal Register and on federal agencies’ America the Beautiful webpages.
     
  • Engaging the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will re-engage an advisory council that will provide recommendations to the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to help advance wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing. This effort builds on the Wildlife Hunting and Heritage Conservation Council, first established in 2010. This contemporary group of subject matter experts will focus on policies that benefit wildlife resources; encourage partnership among the public, sporting conservation organizations, and Federal, State, Tribal, and territorial governments; and benefit fair chase recreational hunting and safe recreational shooting sports. Information on how to submit formal nominations for the advisory council will be forthcoming.
     
  • Improving the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). USDA is improving CREP to bring in new partners who will work with producers on voluntary conservation practices and ultimately increase benefits for the nation’s agricultural producers and private landowners. The Conservation Reserve Program enables the USDA Farm Service Agency and partners to invest in partner-led projects. In direct response to feedback from State agencies, Tribes, non-profit organizations and other groups, USDA has updated matching fund requirements to include any desired combination of cash, in-kind contributions, or technical assistance; expanded its outreach efforts; and expanded the CREP team to increase capacity to work directly with existing and potential new partners. This effort is in line with the America the Beautiful initiative’s focus on incentivizing and rewarding voluntary conservation on private lands. 
     
  • Establishing the Marine and Coastal Area-Based Management Federal Advisory Committee. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will establish an advisory committee that will provide advice to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA Administrator) on science-based approaches to area-based protection, conservation, restoration, and management in marine and coastal areas, including the Great Lakes. The committee would be composed of representatives of diverse interests and perspectives, providing a forum for discussion and advice on opportunities to advance key priorities through NOAA programs and authorities: conservation of biodiversity, climate resilience, and expanding access to nature for underserved communities. Information on how to submit formal nominations for the advisory committee will be forthcoming.
     
  • Investing in Coastal Wetlands Restoration. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will award more than $20 million to support 25 projects in 13 coastal states to protect, restore, or enhance more than 61,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. State, local and Tribal governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute more than $17.6 million in additional funds to these projects. These grants will have wide-reaching benefits for local economies, people, and wildlife – boosting coastal resilience, reducing flood risk, stabilizing shorelines and protecting natural ecosystems. 

 
CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP BY STATES, TRIBES, AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Since President Biden announced the first-ever national goal to conserve at least 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030, states, Tribes, local governments, and private sector leaders across the country have advanced the effort, forging their own paths to conserve, connect, and restore more lands and waters. More than 50 Tribal leaders and organizations and hundreds of locally elected officials across the country have expressed support for the national conservation goal, recommendations, and guiding principles of the America the Beautiful initiative. 

Many Governors are pursuing their own related goals and efforts in alignment with the America the Beautiful initiative. These efforts will support local economies, communities, and wildlife populations and habitats. Activities of note this year include:  

  • California: The State convened advisory panels and held listening sessions over the course of 2021 to inform its draft plan and mapping tool in support of the Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal to conserve and restore 30 percent of its land and coastal waters by 2030. 
  • Florida: In July 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, allocating $300 million to conserve interconnected natural areas in the state. This act aligns with the America the Beautiful early focus areas, specifically collaborative conservation to expand fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
  • Hawaii: The Division of Aquatic Resources continued developing its strategy for management of nearshore resources, consistent with its 2016 commitment, and the State also worked to support its ongoing 30×30 Watershed Forest Initiative over the past year. 
  • Illinois: Lawmakers established the bipartisan Illinois 30×30 Conservation Task Force in 2021 to host listening sessions statewide. 
  • Maine: Governor Janet Mills included a proposal in the state’s Climate Action Plan to conserve at least 30 percent of Maine’s lands by 2030. 
  • Michigan: Lawmakers introduced a bipartisan resolution urging a statewide goal of conserving at least 30 percent of land and water as part of the nationwide effort. 
  • Nevada: Lawmakers became the first in the nation to pass a resolution supporting the national conservation goal and urging State and local agencies to work cooperatively. 
  • New Mexico: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order establishing a statewide goal of protecting 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030. 
  • New York: Lawmakers passed State legislation setting a goal that would conserve at least 30 percent of the State’s land by 2030.

Leaders in the private sector also recognize that thriving ecosystems support successful businesses and communities and that world class natural areas can coexist alongside economic growth. For example, 342 organizations and businesses have already formally voiced their support for the President’s national conservation goal.

Biden: Infrastructure Deal Will Strengthen Nation’s Resilience, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Help Battle Climate Crisis

Solar array at farm in the Finger Lakes of New York. The Bipartisan infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will help strengthen the nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand access to clean drinking water and build up a clean power grid © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This fact sheet provided by the White House spells out how the bipartisan infrastructure package just passed will arm the government in battling the climate crisis:

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding access to clean drinking water, building up a clean power grid, and more.

Here’s more: 

President Biden has made combatting the climate crisis a central priority of his Administration, including throughout his legislative agenda. Climate change is already impacting almost every aspect of life in the United States. Extreme heat waves, catastrophic wildfires, and severe drought are taking American lives and livelihoods. In the last year alone, extreme weather has cost America more than $100 billion – often hitting historically underserved groups the hardest, particularly low-income communities, communities of color, and people with disabilities. In just the last few months, nearly 1 in 3 Americans have been hit by a severe weather disaster and 2 in 3 Americans have suffered through dangerous heat waves. Delayed action on climate also sets us back in the global race on manufacturing and innovation, preventing us from harnessing the economic opportunity that this moment represents.
 
As President Biden emphasized at COP26 in Glasgow, climate change poses an existential threat to people, economies, and countries across the world – and it requires swift and bold action to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience. President Biden has been clear: the climate crisis is a blinking code red for our nation. We must take decisive action to tackle the climate crisis in a way that strengthens our nation’s resilience, cuts consumer costs, and ensures the U.S. can compete and win in the race for the 21st century. This moment demands urgent investments the American people want and our nation needs – investments that will bolster America’s competitiveness, resilience, and economy all while creating good-paying jobs, saving people money, and building an equitable clean energy economy of the future. 
 
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by Congress will strengthen our nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding access to clean drinking water, building up a clean power grid, and more. When coupled with the Build Back Better Framework, these historic investments will help reduce our emissions by well over one gigaton this decade – ensuring we meet President Biden’s commitment to reduce U.S. emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels in 2030, create a 100% carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. Together, these once-in-a-generation investments will unlock the full potential of a clean energy economy that combats climate change, advances environmental justice, and creates good-paying, union jobs.
 
President Biden promised to work across the aisle and unify the country to deliver results for working families. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a critical step towards reaching President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, and is paired with the Build Back Better Framework to realize his full vision to grow our economy, lower consumer costs, create jobs, reduce climate pollution, and ensure more Americans can participate fully and equally in our economy.

BIPARTISIAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL
 
Public Transit
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak – helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repairing, upgrading, and modernizing the nation’s transit infrastructure. The deal will invest $66 billion to provide healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks across the country. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles. And, it will benefit communities of color who are twice as likely to take public transportation and often lack sufficient public transit options. In addition, it will help transit workers who are disproportionally workers of color.

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States. The deal is also a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The deal will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop – and funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.

Clean School Buses
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, to help school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The deal invests in zero- and low-emission school buses, in addition to more than $5 billion in funding for public transit agencies to adopt low- and no-emissions buses. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.

Modern Infrastructure
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.

Resilience
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The deal makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion to protect against droughts, heat, and floods – in addition to a major investment in the weatherization of American homes.

Clean Drinking Water
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will expand access to clean drinking water to all American families, eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and help to clean up the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack access to safe drinking water. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers all across the country. From rural towns to struggling cities, the deal will invest in water infrastructure and eliminate lead service pipes, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.

Legacy Pollution
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. Millions of Americans also live within a mile of the tens of thousands of abandoned mines and oil and gas wells – a large, continuing course of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is a major cause of climate change. The bill will invest $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. These projects will remediate environmental harms, address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities, create good-paying, union jobs, and advance long overdue environmental justice This investment will benefit communities of color like the 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans who live within three miles of a Superfund site – a higher percentage than for Americans overall.
 
Clean Energy Transmission
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal’s more than $65 billion investment is the largest investment in clean energy transmission and the electric grid in American history. It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It also invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.

Biden Convenes Historic Leaders Summit on Climate, Reestablishing US Global Leadership: ‘America is Back’

President Biden held a historic Leaders Summit on Climate,  in which he announced higher targets for the US to achieve, and underscored America’s commitment to leading a clean energy revolution, linking climate action to economic growth. The White House issued this summary:

Over the course of two days and eight sessions of his historic Climate Summit, President Biden convened heads of state and government, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via c-span.org.

On Day One, President Biden fulfilled his commitment to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Days later, he took executive actions to ensure we tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad – all while creating jobs and strengthening our economy. This week, he held a historic summit with 40 world leaders to show that America is back.

Over the course of two days and eight sessions, President Biden convened heads of state and government, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment.

On the first day of the summit, President Biden upped the ante. He announced the United States will target reducing emissions by 50-52 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. He underscored America’s commitment to leading a clean energy revolution and creating good-paying, union jobs – noting that the countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of the future.

In the United States, the Biden-Harris Administration has mobilized a whole-of-government approach to unleash economic opportunities, create good jobs, and advance environmental justice. From the national to the local level and across all agencies, the federal government is not only working to help those hit hardest by climate impacts, but also creating a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous future.

While the Biden-Harris Administration has committed itself to addressing the climate crisis, countries across the globe must also step up. Given that more than 85 percent of emissions come from beyond U.S. borders, domestic action must go hand in hand with international leadership. All countries – and particularly the major economies – must do more to bend the curve on global emissions so as to keep a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. President Biden’s Leaders Summit helped ensure the international community is working together to tackle the climate crisis and support the most vulnerable. Together with the new United States 2030 target along with those announced in the run-up to and at the summit, more than half of the world’s economy is now committed to the pace of action we need to limit warming to 1.5 degree C. And this coalition is growing.

President Biden convened the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate, a group the United States first convened during the George W. Bush Administration. Together, the 17 MEF economies are responsible for approximately 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and global GDP. At the Summit, alongside the United States, the other MEF participants committed to take the necessary steps to set the world up for success in this decisive decade. The heads of state and leaders of the MEF participants were also joined by the leaders of countries that are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, as well as countries charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. Business leaders, innovators, local officials, and indigenous and youth representatives participated in the summit, sharing their insights and planned contributions to help tackle the climate crisis.

For our part, the United States is leading the way with a range of bold new commitments across the federal government that demonstrate its leadership, create jobs, rally the rest of the world to step up, mobilize finance, spur transformational innovations, conserve nature, build resilience, strengthen adaptation and drive economic growth for communities. U.S. commitments include:

Enhancing climate ambition and enabling the transformations required to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. President Biden is galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical period. From reducing short-lived climate pollutants and supporting the most vulnerable to investing in nature-based solutions, these transformational changes are critical to keep a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. Just as importantly, they will create new, good-paying jobs today to drive tomorrow’s economy.
 
The Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach is ensuring that climate considerations are incorporated across U.S. engagements both at home and abroad. Some of the initiatives that were announced today include:

  • Launching a Global Climate Ambition Initiative. The U.S. government will support developing countries in establishing net-zero strategies, implementing their nationally determined contributions and national adaptation strategies, and reporting on their progress under the Paris Agreement. The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), working with other agencies, will coordinate U.S. government efforts to support countries around the world to enhance and meet their climate goals in ways that further their national development priorities. We will engage strategically with governments, the private sector, civil society, and communities to support transformational policies and programs, build human and institutional capacity, and create momentum toward a zero-emissions, climate-resilient future.
  • Setting ambitious benchmarks for climate investments at DFCThe U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is committing to achieve a net zero investment portfolio by 2040, the earliest target of any G7 or G20 development finance institution (DFI), and to make at least one-third of all its new investments have a climate nexus beginning in FY 2023. DFC will make climate issues central to its development strategy for the first time and bring all of its tools to bear to ensure a just transition that supports sustainable economic growth in developing countries. Working with the Rockefeller Foundation, DFC will support distributed renewable energy and other innovative climate investments to benefit millions worldwide. It has released a rolling call for proposals for climate investment funds, is bringing onboard its first Chief Climate Officer, and has established a $50 million climate technical assistance facility. These pioneering goals are unique among its peer institutions, and DFC will collaborate with other DFIs and encourage them to raise their own ambitions.
  • Committing to climate investments at MCC. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will expand and deepen work to address climate change challenges across its investment portfolio and business operations—investing in climate-smart development and sustainable infrastructure. Over the next five years, MCC commits that more than 50 percent of its program funding will go to climate-related investments. MCC will promote low-carbon economic development, help countries transition away from fossil fuels, and maintain a coal-free policy across its portfolio of grants.
  • Launching a Greening Government InitiativeThe Greening Government Initiative launch marks the first international convening on greening national plans for sustainable government operations. Co-chaired by Canada and the United States, GGI countries seek to lead by example in developing and implementing climate action plans that increase the resilience of and mitigate emissions from national government operations and real property. Through coordinating our national priorities and collaborating on common goals, we hope to foster and inspire a global “race to the top” of government efforts toward achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement. The United States and Canada will lead this initiative through cooperation in the management of national government procurement and real property, helping both nations achieve their individual goals of a net-zero emissions economy, 100 percent clean electricity usage, and a zero-emissions vehicle fleet.

Mobilizing financing to drive the net-zero transition and adapt to climate changeFinance plays a vital role in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and building a climate-resilient future. Current financial flows are inadequate for addressing the scale of the climate crisis. Through President Biden’s international climate finance plan, the U.S. government will make strategic use of multilateral and bilateral channels and institutions to assist developing countries in implementing ambitious emissions reduction measures, protect critical ecosystems, build resilience against the impacts of climate change, and promote the flow of capital toward climate-aligned investments and away from high-carbon investments. To more effectively mobilize public and private finance to address the climate crisis, the United States announced it is:

  • Scaling up international financing to address climate needs. The United States intends to double by 2024 our annual public climate finance to developing countries relative to the average level during the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). As part of this goal, the United States intends to triple its adaptation finance by 2024. The Biden Administration will work closely with Congress to meet these goals.
  • Issuing the first U.S. International Climate Finance Plan. The United States is publishing its first-ever U.S. international climate finance plan, which lays out how federal agencies and departments responsible for international climate finance will work together to deliver that finance more efficiently and with greater impact.
  • Launching an international dialogue on decreasing fiscal climate risk through national budgets. Earlier this month, the United States announced a more than $14 billion increase in the President’s Budget over FY 2021 enacted levels across the entire government to tackle the climate crisis, the largest in history. The United States is launching an international dialogue on aligning the budget with climate risks and opportunities. The dialogue will build both on U.S. leadership in climate budgeting and assessing climate risk and on the pioneering work already being done in multilateral fora. The United States will engage with participating countries through bilateral and multilateral channels to collaborate on cost-effective strategies across participating countries to increase climate investments while creating good-paying jobs. The dialogue will also explore how to improve climate risk analysis in national operations that could help countries optimize and expand investments in adaptation and reduce national exposure to the impacts of climate change.

Transforming energy systemsThe potential of solar energy, wind power, and electricity storage technologies has improved dramatically over the past few years. But we need to go further and faster. To support accelerated action, new commitments include:

  • Establishing a Net-Zero Producers Forum. In support of efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury, the United States, together with the energy ministries from Canada, Norway, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, representing 40 percent of global oil and gas production, established a cooperative forum that will create pragmatic net-zero strategies, including methane abatement, advancing the circular carbon economy approach, development and deployment of clean-energy and carbon capture and storage technologies, diversification from reliance on hydrocarbon revenues, and other measures in line with each country’s national circumstances.
  • Establishing a U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. The United States is working with allies and partners around the world to set ambitious 2030 targets for climate action and clean energy innovation and deployment. The U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership will elevate ambitious climate action as a core theme of U.S.-India collaboration and support the achievement of India’s ambitious targets, including reaching 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. The Partnership will aim to mobilize finance and speed clean energy deployment; demonstrate and scale innovative clean technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across sectors including industry, transportation, power, and buildings; and build capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the risks of climate-related impacts.
  • Supporting ambitious renewable energy goals and pathways in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Department of State announced scaled-up technical assistance to countries participating in the Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean (RELAC) initiative, a regional effort led by Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica to increase renewable energy capacity to at least 70 percent by 2030. Expanded U.S. support through the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory will center on peer learning and training on policies and technical measures for achieving high levels of renewable energy grid integration. U.S. support to enable current RELAC countries and motivate additional countries to join RELAC will be delivered in cooperation with the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), and the Global Power System Transformation Consortium.
  • Supporting clean energy mineral supply chains. The Energy Resource Governance Initiative (ERGI) is a multinational effort founded by Australia, Botswana, Canada, Peru, and the United States to help build sustainable supply chains and promote sound sector governance for the minerals vital to technologies powering the energy transition, such as solar panels, electric vehicles, and battery storage. The United States has committed more than $10.5 million in bilateral technical assistance in support of ERGI principles in more than ten countries around the world. The Initiative’s focus is now expanding to include greening mining operations, as well as re-use and recycling of key minerals and metals. The United States will also join the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining in support of international cooperation on the minerals and metals that make the renewable energy transition possible.

Revitalizing the transport sector. The transformation of the transport sector offers some of the biggest opportunities for deep emissions cuts, new jobs, and healthier cities. To jump-start this revolution, the United States is committing to:                                                                                       

  • Sparking the zero-emission transportation revolution – at home and abroad. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis and expanding ways for all modes of transportation to transition to zero emissions. This includes funding for lower-emission buses, expanding access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, using our public rights of way in climate-supportive ways, and working with partners around the world bilaterally, regionally, and in multilateral fora to help catalyze the transition to zero-emitting transportation as swiftly as possible.
  • Joining the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council. The United States will join a coalition of governments representing more than half of new vehicle sales globally that is dedicated to accelerating the global transition to zero emission vehicles.
  • Reducing emissions from international shipping. The international shipping sector contributes approximately three percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the sector’s emissions are only projected to increase. In support of the global effort to keep within reach a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature increase, and in support of global efforts to achieve net-zero GHG emissions no later than 2050, the United States is committing to work with countries in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt a goal of achieving zero emissions from international shipping by 2050 and to adopt ambitious measures that will place the sector on a pathway to achieve this goal.
  • Reducing emissions from international aviation. The United States is committed to working with other countries on a vision toward reducing the aviation sector’s emissions in a manner consistent with the goal of net-zero emissions for our economy by 2050, as well as on robust standards that integrate climate protection and safety. The United States intends to advance the development and deployment of high integrity sustainable aviation fuels and other clean technologies that meet rigorous international standards, building on existing partnerships, such as through ASCENT– the Aviation Sustainability Center – and pursue policies to increase the supply and demand of sustainable aviation fuels. In the International Civil Aviation Organization, we will engage in processes to advance a new long-term aspirational goal in line with our vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector, and continue to participate in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Building workforces for the future and ensuring U.S. competitivenessClimate action is an opportunity to spur job creation while enabling all communities and workers to benefit from the clean energy economy. To create opportunities for American-made solutions to tackle the climate crisis abroad, the United States is announcing new commitments to:

  • Launching a Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will launch the Global Partnership to connect U.S. industry to major energy and transportation infrastructure investments in emerging markets. This initiative will support the rebuilding of the U.S. middle class through the export of U.S.-manufactured goods and services, while enhancing economic recovery through climate-smart infrastructure development for our partners and allies globally. The Global Climate-Smart Infrastructure Partnership will leverage USTDA’s project preparation and partnership-building tools to support the use of U.S. technologies and services in overseas climate-smart infrastructure projects.
  • Creating the EXIM Chairman’s Council on Climate. The U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) will create a Chairman’s Council on Climate, a sub-committee of EXIM’s Advisory Committee dedicated to advising EXIM on how to better support U.S. exporters in clean energy, foster the transition to a low-carbon economy, and create clean U.S. jobs at home. Membership will be comprised of a wide range of representatives which could include, for example, members of U.S. industry, the financial sector, trade associations, labor, academia, think tanks, and civil society organizations. EXIM will open applications to the public in summer 2021.
  • Supporting workers and communities in the shift to a global clean energy future. As the United States moves towards a clean energy economy, it is committed to helping energy workers and communities address the challenges and equitably capitalize on the opportunities associated with this transition. The U.S. Secretary of Energy convened the energy ministers of Canada, India, and the European Commission, along with representatives from the labor and advocacy communities, to begin a discussion on global efforts to address this critical issue. To continue the dialogue, the Department of Energy announced that it is joining Canada, the European Union, and Chile to launch the Empowering People initiative at the Clean Energy Ministerial this June.

Promoting innovation to bring clean technologies to scaleInnovation will spur the technology and transformations necessary to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change at scale, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities to build the industries of the future. To build the future we want, the United States announced:

  • Clean energy innovation and manufacturing. The United States commits to accelerating the technology progress critical to advancing sustainable development and achieving a net-zero global economy. The effort will spur good-paying American jobs focused on developing, manufacturing, and exporting cost-effective products that support sustainable development across the world. The U.S. Department of Energy will define a series of performance targets and coherently leverage the diverse expertise and talent at American universities, businesses, and national laboratories to accelerate research and development in top linchpin technologies, beginning with: hydrogen, carbon capture, industrial fuels, and energy storage. The targets and roadmaps will look beyond incremental advances and aim, instead, at the game-changing breakthroughs that will secure American leadership in the manufacture of net-zero carbon technologies and support sustainable development around the world. In the coming weeks, the U.S. Department of Energy will convene experts from American academia, business, and the national laboratories to announce the first of these moonshot-style ventures and catalyze the game-changing breakthroughs that will grow new businesses and new jobs domestically and export these net-zero carbon technologies all around the world.
  • Reinvigorating leadership and participation in Mission Innovation. The Biden-Harris Administration has announced plans to quadruple clean energy innovation funding over the next four years, and the United States is playing a key role in advancing international collaboration on innovation and supporting the launch of Mission Innovation 2.0, including:
    • Launching, and leading together with international partners, a major Mission Innovation international technology mission on carbon dioxide removal at COP26.
    • Joining Mission Innovation’s hydrogen mission and co-leading, with Denmark, a mission to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in international shipping, both slated to launch at the June 2021 Mission Innovation ministerial.
    • Planning to host the co-located 2022 Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial meetings.
  • Leading the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate. The United States will lead the creation of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate along with the United Arab Emirates and in coordination with several other partner countries. The goal of this initiative is to accelerate innovation and research and development in agricultural and food systems in order to spur low-carbon growth and enhance food security. The initiative will be advanced at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and launched at COP26 in November 2021 through the UK’s COP26 Campaign for Nature. 
  • Joining the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT)The United States will join the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT), along with co-founders Sweden and India. LeadIT convenes countries and companies committed to speeding innovation in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in energy-intensive sectors and speed progress to net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Launching a Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) Consortium. To speed progress toward a carbon-free power system by 2035 at home and around the world, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, joined leading power system operators, world-class research institutes, and private institutions from countries at the forefront of power system transitions to launch this new consortium, which couples cutting-edge research with knowledge diffusion to share best-in-class operational, engineering, and workforce development solutions with power system operators around the world. The G-PST Consortium aims to help system operators to permanently change their emissions trajectories while simultaneously improving grid reliability, resiliency, and security and supporting economic growth.
  • Launching the FIRST Program to support the use of small modular reactors. In support of the Administration’s commitment to increasing reliable energy access worldwide while meeting carbon reduction targets, the Department of State is launching the Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) Program with an initial $5.3 million investment. FIRST provides capacity-building support to enable partner countries to benefit from advanced nuclear technologies and meet their clean energy goals under the highest standards of nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation.

Providing urgent support for vulnerable countries to adapt and build resilience to the climate crisisThe climate crisis is already posing challenges to communities at home and around the world. Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when agriculture fields are flooded, wildfires destroy neighborhoods, and storms knock out power. Communities of color and low-income communities around the country are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Abroad, many vulnerable countries already are facing catastrophic climate impacts. They must build their resilience to the climate crisis now. To strengthen our capacity to help people, reduce future risks and improve resilience, the United States is announcing it is:

  • Supporting environmental justice and climate resilienceEPA will fund $1 million in grants/cooperative agreements through the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to work with underserved and vulnerable communities, including indigenous communities, in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to prepare them for climate-related impacts. This initiative will provide funding directly to community-based organizations to help them develop community-driven solutions to the challenges of climate change. These projects could involve vulnerable communities converting workers to clean jobs, addressing extreme weather impacts, transitioning to clean energy and/or transportation, or utilizing traditional ecological knowledge. Following a competitive process, the most innovative and impactful projects will be approved by consensus by the environment ministers of the three countries. The United States currently chairs the CEC Council.
  • Partnering with islands to lead on climate and energy resilience. The United States is committed to partnering with small islands in their efforts to combat the climate crisis in ways that reflect their unique cultures and development challenges by building resilience in the face of a changing climate. Working together, the Department of State, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will launch a new partnership to advance the inclusion of locally generated climate information, knowledge, data and decision support tools in ongoing and emerging sustainability and resilience endeavors in island regions. The Department of State will support a unique island-led partnership, the Local2030 Island Network, which links U.S. island jurisdictions with those around the world in developing common solutions in a shared cultural context. NOAA will work with this network and other partners to enhance the capacity of island nations to integrate climate data and information, and it will apply effective coastal and marine resource management strategies to support sustainable development. DOE will launch the Energy Transitions Initiative – Global, which will focus on transforming the energy systems of and increasing resilience for islands and remote communities, starting in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific and growing to include other vulnerable communities. USAID, through the Pacific Climate Ready project and the Caribbean Energy and Resilience initiatives, will support small island developing states to strengthen their systems and capacities to become more climate resilient in ways that are country-driven, coordinated, inclusive, and equitable.
  • Reducing black carbon by investing in clean cookstovesHousehold energy emissions have a significant impact on the climate, environment, human health, gender, and livelihoods. In addition, the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon, can in the short term contribute significantly to keeping a 1.5 degree C limit on global average temperature rise within reach. Given the urgent need for tangible, ambitious, and global action, the U.S. government is announcing that it is resuming and strengthening its commitment to the United Nations Foundation’s Clean Cooking Alliance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will work with the Clean Cooking Alliance, other governments, and partners to reduce emissions from home cooking and heating that contribute to climate change and also directly affect the health and livelihoods of almost 40 percent of the world’s population.
  • Mitigating black carbon health impacts in Indigenous Arctic communitiesEPA, working through our partners in the Arctic Council, is pleased to announce the Black Carbon Health in Indigenous Arctic Communities project to be implemented by the Aleut International Association. Indigenous Arctic communities need tools to understand their exposure to black carbon emissions, to help them identify significant local sources, and to share best practices for preventing and mitigating the health impacts of air pollution and climate. The project will help these communities measure, analyze, and addresses black carbon exposure and strengthen their capacity to develop and promote black carbon mitigation strategies.

Implementing nature-based solutionsNature is a critical part of reaching net-zero emissions and enhancing community resilience. The world’s ocean and forests are critical carbon sinks and a source of life and livelihoods. Recognizing nature’s vital role, the United States is announcing new resources and support for:

  • Investing in tropical forests to drive towards a net-zero world. Halting deforestation globally, and restoring forests and other ecosystems, is critical to reaching a net-zero emissions world by 2050. The United States is joining together with other governments and private sector companies today to announce the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition. The LEAF Coalition expects to mobilize at least $1 billion this year to incentivize tropical and subtropical countries in reducing emissions from forests by paying for verified emissions reductions that meet a high environmental and social standard. This is a crucial component to raising global climate ambition and to halting and reversing deforestation by 2030.
  • Funding nature-based approaches to coastal community and ecosystem resilience. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and additional governmental and private partners will provide $34 million for nature-based approaches through the National Coastal Resilience Fund. These projects will advance restoration or enhancement of natural features, such as coastal wetlands, dunes, and coral reefs, to protect coastal communities and infrastructure from flooding, while also improving habitat for fish and wildlife. NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation commit to advancing the science and practice of implementing nature-based approaches to coastal resilience with international communities of practice by participating in exchanges and dialogues to share the lessons and innovations learned from these projects. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners will also provide $78 million in grants to help conserve or restore nearly 500,000 acres of wetlands in Canada, Mexico, and the United States through the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.
  • Promoting resilience in the Southern OceanThe United States is supporting the three marine protected area proposals in the Southern Ocean before the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). These unique areas are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and they must be protected. The United States is calling on all CCAMLR members to adopt these marine protected areas at this year’s meeting.

Promoting safety and security at home and abroadClimate change has been identified by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a critical national security threat and threat multiplier. As a result, DoD has undertaken assessments of the impacts that the climate crisis has on American military instillations. Today the United States is announcing:

  • Conducting climate exposure assessments on all U.S. installationsThe DoD is announcing a plan to complete climate exposure assessments on all major U.S. installations within 12 months and all major installations outside the continental U.S. within 24 months using the Defense Climate Assessment Tool (DCAT). The DCAT helps identify the climate hazards to which DoD installations are most exposed, which is the first step in addressing the potential physical harm, security impacts, and degradation in readiness resulting from global climate change.
  • Supporting assessments in partner countries around the world. The DoD is also announcing its commitment to share the DCAT with a number of attending allied partners and militaries.

Supporting action at every levelFully addressing the climate crisis requires an all-of-society response. President Biden is committed to working with sub-national actors, business, civil society, indigenous communities, and youth to facilitate collective ambitious action that yields lasting results.

  • Advancing subnational and non-state engagement abroadThe United States will step up engagement with subnational governments and non-state actors around the world to accelerate climate action. It will also partner with U.S. cities, states, territories, and Tribes in the context of its diplomatic outreach globally, supporting their engagement at UN Climate Change summits and working with other countries to elevate similar efforts.
  • Catalyzing subnational action and participation in COP26. The United States endorses Race To Zero, a global campaign for net-zero targets from businesses, cities, and regions, and will work to seek additional U.S participants. The United States also announced an intent to commission analysis of the emission reduction potential from subnational leadership worldwide and to work with national and subnational partners globally to achieve this potential.

Today’s announcements are additional steps in the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance an unprecedented whole-of-government response to climate change while creating good-paying, union jobs and advancing environmental justice. On his first day in office, President Biden fulfilled his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and one week later he signed an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. As part of this Order, the President charged federal agencies to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis. From reducing emissions to advancing a just transition, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to working hand in hand with international leaders, civil society, businesses, and communities and getting countries around the world to step up and meet this global challenge.
 

Interior Department Welcomes Day One Executive Orders to Restore Public Lands and Waters, Combat Coronavirus

Grand Staircase-Escalante. President Joe Biden, in his Day One Executive Order, directed the Interior Department to conduct a review of the monument boundaries and conditions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears, Northeast Canyons, and Seamounts Marine National Monuments. The Trump Administration had reduced borders and opened public lands to drilling and mining © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Interior Department acted immediately upon President Joe Biden’s executive orders to restore public lands and waters:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Immediately following his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed Executive Orders that take critical first steps to address the climate crisis, create good union jobs, and advance environmental justice, while reversing the previous administration’s harmful policies.

One of President Biden’s Executive Orders requires the Interior Department to conduct a review of the monument boundaries and conditions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears, Northeast Canyons, and Seamounts Marine National Monuments. The order directs Interior, in consultation with other agencies and Tribal governments, to determine whether restoration of the monument boundaries and conditions would be appropriate.

The Executive Order also places a temporary moratorium on activities related to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending legal and policy review. Pursuant to section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Executive Order also restores the original withdrawal of certain offshore areas in Arctic waters and the Bering Sea from oil and gas drilling.

The Interior Department will immediately begin to implement the orders, and make recommendations to the President as directed.

The Interior Department has issued a Secretarial Order that temporarily elevates review of relevant agency decisions, including final agency actions, regulatory actions, and energy development. During the 60-day window that the Order may be in effect, decision-making over these matters will be reserved for Department leadership for the purposes of reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy they raise. The Order does not impact existing ongoing operations under valid leases and does not preclude the issuance of leases, permits and other authorizations by those specified. In addition, any actions necessary in the event of an incident that might pose a threat to human health, welfare, or safety will continue.

The President also took swift action to begin an urgent, robust, and professional response to the growing public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak. An additional Executive Order will help slow the spread of the virus by asking all of us to do our part and requiring masks and physical distancing. The Interior Department will have additional department-specific guidance in the days and weeks to come.