New monument – marking fifth new National Monument created by President Biden – will conserve nearly 1 million acres of greater Grand Canyon landscape sacred to Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples and advance President Biden’s historic climate and conservation agenda
In conjunction with the President’s visit, Biden-Harris Administration announces $44 million investment to strengthen climate resilience across America’s National Parks system
As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s unprecedented commitment to protect America’s natural wonders for future generations, honor culturally significant areas, and tell a more complete story of our nation, President Biden signed a proclamation establishing the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona. Baaj nwaavjo (BAAHJ – NUH-WAAHV-JOH) means “where Indigenous peoples roam” in the Havasupai language, and i’tah kukveni (EE-TAH – KOOK-VENNY) means “our ancestral footprints” in the Hopi language. The name reflects the significance of the Grand Canyon area, not just to one, but to many Tribal Nations.
This designation, which marks the fifth new national monument established by President Biden, honors Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples by protecting sacred ancestral places and their historically and scientifically important features, while conserving our public lands, protecting wildlife habitat and clean water, and supporting local economies.
Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will conserve nearly 1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. The new monument protects thousands of cultural and sacred sites that are precious to Tribal Nations in the Southwest – including the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes. These sites include Gray Mountain, called Dziłbeeh by the Navajo, which is a part of Navajo ceremonial songs, stories, and rituals. The President will sign the proclamation at Red Butte, a sacred site called Wii’i Gdwiisa by the Havasupai, which towers above the southern portion of the monument.
In conjunction with the President’s visit to Arizona, and ahead of the 1-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden-Harris Administration is also announcing $44 million to strengthen climate resilience across America’s iconic National Parks system, including 43 projects across 39 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To mark this announcement and uplift the latest climate and conservation actions by the Biden-Harris Administration, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz will travel tomorrow to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Through his Investing in America agenda, the President has delivered record funding for conservation, climate action, and environmental justice.
Since day one, President Biden has delivered on the most ambitious climate and conservation agenda in American history. That includes the President’s America the Beautiful Initiative, which is supporting locally led conservation efforts across the country with a goal to conserve and restore 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to honoring and respecting Tribal sovereignty, protecting Tribal homelands, and incorporating Indigenous Knowledge and robust Tribal consultation into planning and decision-making. Today’s designation supports Tribally led conservation efforts and helps address injustices of the past, including when Tribes were forcibly removed from lands that later became Grand Canyon National Park.
The new Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument joins other iconic places protected by the Biden-Harris Administration, including Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada, Castner Range National Monument in Texas, Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado, Bristol Bay and the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and surrounding watershed in Minnesota.
Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument protects and preserves the rich cultural, ecological, scientific, historic, and scenic value of the greater Grand Canyon landscape. Today’s monument designation protects these sacred places for cultural and spiritual uses, while respecting existing livestock grazing permits and preserving access for hunting and fishing.
The new monument is made up of three distinct areas to the south, northeast, and northwest of Grand Canyon National Park. It is bordered by the Kanab watershed boundary and Kanab Creek drainage in the northwestern area and the Havasupai Indian Reservation and Navajo Nation in the southern area, and stretches from Marble Canyon to the edge of the Kaibab Plateau in the northeastern area. The monument spans 917,618 acres of public lands managed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.
The area includes many natural wonders, from sweeping plateaus and deep canyons to meandering creeks and streams that ultimately flow into the mighty Colorado River, providing water to millions of people across the Southwest. The unique interplay of geology and hydrology support some of the most biodiverse habitats in the region ranging from sagebrush to savanna, providing refuge for iconic wildlife including bighorn sheep, mule deer, bison, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, owls, and songbirds. The new monument contains over 3,000 known cultural and historic sites, including 12 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today’s designation recognizes and is a step toward addressing the history of dispossession and exclusion of Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples in the area, including that occurring when the federal government established the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve in 1893, Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908, and Grand Canyon National Park in 1919.
The proclamation continues the Biden-Harris Administration’s unprecedented engagement with Tribal Nations around traditional homelands and sacred sites. It directs the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture to engage with Tribes through consultations, co-stewardship agreements, contracts, financial and technical assistance, and other mechanisms to ensure that that the management of the monument occurs in collaboration with Tribes and reflects the Indigenous Knowledge and special expertise Tribes have amassed over countless generations. The proclamation also establishes the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon Commission to advance the objective of co-stewardship of the monument.
Today’s designation preserves this vital landscape for outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking, biking, and other recreational activities, consistent with applicable law. Hunting and fishing will continue to be allowed throughout the monument, including in the Kanab Creek area.
The proclamation recognizes and reaffirms the State of Arizona’s ongoing primary role in the management of wildlife within the monument and directs federal agencies to build on their ongoing partnerships with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to further strengthen these collaborative efforts. Hunting, fishing, live trapping and transplantation, activities associated with scientific resources management including research, census, and monitoring of populations, and a wide range of other wildlife management activities will continue to be allowed within the national monument. The proclamation further directs the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture to build on their ongoing partnerships with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to explore developing new or updating existing memoranda of understanding to further improve these collaborative efforts.
Recognizing the critical role that sportsmen and sportswomen have played, and continue to play, in wildlife restoration and conservation in the area, the proclamation requires that a monument advisory committee include representation from both the sportsmen and sportswomen community, as well as representation from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It also directs the monument advisory committee to include representation from the ranching community. The proclamation respects existing livestock grazing permits on lands within the monument.
The national monument designation recognizes and respects valid existing rights. The proclamation specifies that maintenance and upgrades to water infrastructure for flood control, utilities, water district facilities, wildlife water catchments, and other similar uses may continue; and that utility lines, pipelines, and roads can continue to be maintained, upgraded, and built consistent with proper care and management of the monument objects. Existing mining claims – predating a 20-year mineral withdraw initiated in 2012 – will remain in place, and the two approved mining operations within the boundaries of the monument would be able to operate.
The national monument only includes federal lands and does not include State and private lands within the boundary or affect the property rights of the State or private land owners.
Background on Antiquities Act Designations
President Theodore Roosevelt first used the Antiquities Act in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Since then, 18 presidents of both parties have used this authority to protect unique natural and historic features in America, including the Statue of Liberty, the Colorado’s Canyon of the Ancients, and New Mexico’s Gila Cliff Dwellings.
The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument is President Biden’s fifth new monument designation, following the creation of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Illinois and Mississippi last month, the Castner Range National Monument in Texas and Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada this spring, and the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado last fall.
Major US manufacturers committing to new investments and hiring in response to historic $50B investment in water infrastructure from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda
Senior executives from major U.S.-based manufacturers and distributors of water infrastructure parts joined senior Biden-Harris Administration officials at the White House to announce new private sector investments spurred by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a more than $50 billion investment in the nation’s water infrastructure – including $15 billion set-aside for lead service line replacement. This historic investment represents a transformational increase in federal investment in the nation’s drinking water infrastructure over the next five years. By requiring Made in-America products when using federal funding to rebuild infrastructure, President Biden is not only investing in fixing our country’s water systems and replacing lead pipes, but also creating good-paying jobs and new domestic manufacturing.
To meet the increased demand for American-made water products, American manufacturers are stepping up their production capacity with new investments, creating jobs and American industrial capacity in the process. Administration officials have also emphasized the importance of collaborating with unions to ensure these investments build the middle class from the middle out and bottom up, not top-down.
This week, the following firms announced tens of millions in new manufacturing investments and hiring commitments:
A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. is an Iowa-based 167-year-old 5th generation family business with three manufacturing locations in Iowa, and Tennessee, with plans underway to build a state-of-the-art brass foundry in Wisconsin. Since the beginning of 2019, A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. has doubled the manufacturing space of their Tennessee facility with a 100,000 square feet addition and has undertaken the largest capacity expansion in the company’s history having invested millions of dollars in new machinery and automation. Their production workforce has grown 45% since the end of 2020. In addition, parent company A.Y. McDonald Industries built a 100,000 square foot warehouse to house finished goods and maintenance supplies to free up additional manufacturing space in the 3 existing A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. factories.
Cerro Flow Products, an Illinois-based pipe manufacturer that is part of the Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway Group – has 100% domestic manufacturing facilities and is currently looking to hire 23 individuals for good-paying union jobs as soon as possible at their Sauget facility. Cerro is also standing ready to add additional shifts at their primary mill, as well as utilize additional manufacturing capabilities at other Cerro sites as demand for water products increases due to federal investments. Cerro has also invested in new workforce development programs, additional upskilling for maintenance and electrical staff, and sponsors a tuition reimbursement program unique to the industry.
Commercial Forged Products, an Illinois based company that does not normally make water parts, plans to invest $9 million in additional forging and ancillary equipment, while adding 15 new United Steelworker positions across multiple shifts, as well as hire 4 additional skilled machinists in its Bedford Park facility.
The Ford Meter Box Company, an Indiana-based company, is expanding its production capacity to meet private and public waterworks infrastructure demand in the long term, as well as lead service line replacement project needs in the near term. Ford has hired 40 new employees already this year, added new shifts, and invested in new equipment, all of which will increase production by 20%. The construction of a new 300,000 sq. ft. state of the art foundry will be announced this summer, pending final site selection. The new facility, along with committed downstream manufacturing investment, will increase production an additional 42%. This nine-figure manufacturing investment is the largest expansion project in the company’s 125-year history. Additionally, the continued pursuit of a complementary “investment in people” includes a Manufacturing Support Specialist Program, a two-year training program to advance employees into salaried manufacturing, support, and administrative positions.
Mueller Water Products, an Atlanta-based company, has invested approximately $150 million in three capital projects in recent years, expanding its U.S. production capacity due in part to the billions of dollars in water infrastructure investments made in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The largest capital project is a new brass foundry located in Decatur, Illinois, which will significantly expand its capacity to produce products, including those commonly used in lead service line replacements. The new foundry, which will replace an existing aging facility, uses a state-of-the-art brass alloy to eliminate dependence on imported Bismuth from China and increases recyclability. The new foundry – expected to be fully online by 2024 and employ United Steelworkers – and other production improvements are also expected to increase Mueller’s production capacity for brass and other water infrastructure products. Mueller already employs about 465 United Steelworkers in Decatur, and the firm’s investments will help replace 100% of lead service lines and deploy the largest single investment in U.S. water infrastructure.
Quality Steel Products, a Michigan-based firm that previously did not make components in the water space, has committed to expand its business to meet upcoming demand by adding employees and additional shifts, investing millions of dollars in new forging presses and equipment, induction furnaces, transformers and capital improvement process.
Through historic levels of funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan, annual appropriations, and harnessing a variety of tools across federal, state, and local government, the Biden-Harris Administration is delivering tangible progress on the groundbreaking Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan to replace all lead service lines in America in the next decade.
All Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments are subject to the Build America, Buy America Act, which requires iron, steel, manufactured products and construction materials used in infrastructure projects to be produced in the United States. President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is revitalizing American manufacturing, including in once hollowed out communities, and creating good-paying jobs across the country. Under President Biden’s manufacturing boom, nearly 800,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created, and private sector companies have announced over $480 billion in manufacturing and clean energy investments since President Biden took office. This week’s announcements provide further evidence his approach to industrial policy is creating good jobs and rebuilding our manufacturing capacity while ensuring every family can access clean, safe drinking water.
President Biden has done more than any prior president to tackle the climate crisis.
On the day before Earth Day 2023, standing beside environmental justice leaders, climate advocates and community leaders in the Rose Garden, President Biden announced bold new actions to protect the health and environment of communities across America, including a new executive order making environmental justice the mission of every single executive agency. The executive order will direct agencies to address gaps in science and data to better understand and prevent the cumulative impacts of pollution on people’s health. It will create a new Office of Environmental Justice in the White House to coordinate all environmental justice efforts across the federal government. And it will require agencies to notify nearby communities in the event of a release of toxic substances from a federal facility.
Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling to Florida to announce new investments as part of the President’s Investing in America agenda to strengthen coastal resilience to climate change impacts and extreme storms – this after record flooding in Fort Lauderdale.
The announcements come on the heels of a new report showing that the private sector has announced and advanced more than 190 clean energy projects nationwide since the President signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, totaling more than $242 billion in investments.
The President also is highlighting how his historic environmental justice and climate agenda stands in stark contrast to the dangerous vision Speaker McCarthy and his extreme caucus have for our planet, our economy, and public health:
While we’re lowering costs for American families through clean energy tax credits, extreme MAGA Republicans are safeguarding handouts for Big Oil companies.
While we’re creating thousands of clean energy jobs in communities across America, extreme MAGA Republicans are fighting to send those jobs back to China.
While we’re cleaning up toxic pollution at Superfund sites and brownfields, extreme MAGA Republicans are fighting to make it easier for oil and gas companies to pollute the air we breathe.
While we’re replacing lead pipes so all Americans have clean water to drink, extreme MAGA Republicans want to make it easier for refineries to use toxic chemicals like hydrofluoric acid, which causes severe burns, damages people’s eyes, and literally melts bones.
While we’re plugging millions of orphaned wells that emit methane and other dangerous gases, extreme MAGA Republicans would allow mining and energy companies to store hazardous waste without a permit.
Speaker McCarthy and his extreme caucus’ proposals, including H.R. 1, would be a climate and health disaster that President Biden won’t allow on his watch.
As House Republicans move to extort a repeal of President Joe Biden’s historic investment in climate action by holding out raising the debt limit which would crash the global economy and cause massive rise in interest rates, Biden has revitalized a national commitment to environmental justice for all. The White House provided this fact sheet: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that every person has a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy community – now and into the future. During his first week in office, President Biden launched the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in our nation’s history. To continue delivering on that vision, today the President will sign an executive order further embedding environmental justice into the work of federal agencies to achieve real, measurable progress that communities can count on.
The Executive Order is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government effort to confront longstanding environmental injustices and inequities. For far too long, communities across our country have faced persistent environmental injustice through toxic pollution, underinvestment in infrastructure and critical services, and other disproportionate environmental harms often due to a legacy of racial discrimination including redlining. These communities with environmental justice concerns face even greater burdens due to climate change.
With this action, the President is working to ensure that all people – regardless of race, background, income, ability, Tribal affiliation, or zip code – can benefit from the vital safeguards enshrined in our nation’s foundational environmental and civil rights laws. That means cleaner air and water, reduced risk for asthma, cancer, and other health burdens, and better access to green space, safe and affordable housing, and clean transportation.
For President Biden, protecting our planet starts with ensuring everyone lives in a safe and healthy environment. Throughout Earth Week, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and other Cabinet-level officials are holding events and announcing commitments focused on how the President’s Investing in America agenda is creating good-paying clean energy jobs, lowering costs, meeting our climate goals, advancing environmental justice and conservation, and strengthening communities that for too long were left behind or left out.
The new Executive Order, Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, will:
Deepen the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government commitment to environmental justice. The new Executive Order makes clear that the pursuit of environmental justice is a duty of all executive branch agencies and should be incorporated into their missions. It also affirms that environmental justice is central to the implementation of our bedrock civil rights and environmental laws.
Better protect overburdened communities from pollution and environmental harms. The Executive Order directs agencies to consider measures to address and prevent disproportionate and adverse environmental and health impacts on communities, including the cumulative impacts of pollution and other burdens like climate change. Additionally, it requires agencies to notify nearby communities in the event of a release of toxic substances from a federal facility, and to hold a public meeting to share information on resulting health risks and necessary precautions.
Strengthen engagement with communities and mobilize federal agencies to confront existing and legacy barriers and injustices. Communities with environmental justice concerns have long experienced exclusion and other significant barriers to having a voice in federal decision-making. The Executive Order recognizes this reality and that racism is a fundamental driver of environmental injustice. It directs agencies to actively facilitate meaningful public participation and just treatment of all people in agency decision-making. The Executive Order also underscores the vital importance of Tribal consultation and coordination, including to strengthen nation-to-nation relationships on issues involving environmental justice.
Promote the latest science, data, and research, including on cumulative impacts. The Executive Order directs agencies to identify and address gaps in science, data, and research related to environmental justice, to advance the analysis of cumulative impacts, and to make information on environmental and health concerns more publicly accessible to communities. To address the need for a coordinated strategy for identifying and filling environmental justice data and research gaps, the Executive Order establishes a new Environmental Justice Subcommittee within the National Science and Technology Council, led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Expand interagency coordination and launch a new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Building on Executive Order 14008, the Executive Order adds agencies to the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council to further a whole-of-government strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice. The Executive Order also establishes the White House Office of Environmental Justice, led by the Federal Chief Environmental Justice Officer, and tasks it with coordinating the implementation of environmental justice policy across the federal government, ensuring that federal efforts can evolve alongside our understanding of environmental justice.
Increase accountability and transparency in federal environmental justice policy. The Executive Order charges federal agencies with conducting new assessments of their environmental justice efforts and developing, implementing, and periodically updating an environmental justice strategic plan. These Environmental Justice Strategic Plans and Assessments will be submitted to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and made public on a regular basis, including through the Environmental Justice Scorecard, a new government-wide assessment of federal agencies’ efforts to advance environmental justice.
Honor and build on the foundation of ongoing environmental justice work. Under the Executive Order, agencies will continue their efforts to advance environmental justice in ways that complement and deepen prior work. The Executive Order uses the term “disproportionate and adverse” as a simpler, modernized version of the phrase “disproportionately high and adverse” used in Executive Order 12898. Those phrases have the same meaning, but removing the word “high” eliminates potential misunderstanding that agencies should only be considering large disproportionate effects.
This action follows through on President Biden’s promise to modernize and improve how the federal government confronts environmental injustice to address the needs of present and future generations – a promise he made following meaningful engagement with communities with environmental justice concerns and solidified in Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The Executive Order reflects the values, goals, and recommendations of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), an expert body of leaders, researchers, practitioners, and community members. In line with the WHEJAC’s recommendations, the Executive Order outlines an ambitious approach to environmental justice that is informed by scientific research, high-quality data, and meaningful engagement with communities. It also reaffirms that the federal government must continue to be transparent and accountable for its actions.
The Executive Order builds on and supplements the foundational efforts of Executive Order 12898, signed by President Bill Clinton nearly 30 years ago. For the first time in our nation’s history, Executive Order 12898 recognized and sought to address what community members and leaders had been saying for decades: harmful pollution disproportionally impacts low-income communities and communities of color, among other vulnerable communities.
In addition to the Executive Order, today the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing other new steps to further the President’s historic commitment to environmental justice:
Publishing the first-ever Environmental Justice Scorecard. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), CEQ, and the U.S. Digital Service are publishing Phase One of the Environmental Justice Scorecard, the first government-wide assessment of federal agencies’ efforts to advance environmental justice. The first version of the Scorecard establishes a baseline for tracking the federal government’s efforts through 24 agencies to secure environmental justice, including to advance the Justice40 Initiative. Over time, it will show how the Administration’s actions are making meaningful changes in communities. The Scorecard incorporates recommendations from the WHEJAC and feedback from the public, environmental justice stakeholders, and experts.
Launching the White House Campaign for Environmental Justice. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that people are seeing and experiencing the impacts of the President’s environmental justice agenda in their communities. To strengthen partnerships with communities that have been left behind for too long, the Administration is announcing the White House Campaign for Environmental Justice. The campaign, which is being kicked off today at the launch of the 21st Urban Waters Federal Partnership in Raleigh, North Carolina, will redouble the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to meet people where they are and better focus agency resources and attention on the needs of marginalized and overburdened communities.
Announcing new Justice40 covered programs. Through the Justice40 Initiative, the Biden-Harris Administration is reshaping hundreds of federal programs to ensure that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Today three additional agencies, the Department of Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), announced their Justice40 covered programs. Now nearly 470 programs across nineteen federal agencies are covered under the President’s Justice40 Initiative.
Taking new steps to combat plastic pollution in communities. The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes that the plastic pollution crisis is an environmental justice issue, with disadvantaged communities in the U.S. and globally bearing social, economic, and public health burdens across the entire lifecycle of plastics. Today the Environmental Protection Agency is releasing a draft National Strategy on Preventing Plastic Pollution to combat the disparate impacts on communities affected by plastic from production to waste. The White House is also announcing a new Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) on Plastic Pollution and a Circular Economy. The IPC will coordinate federal efforts on plastic pollution, prioritizing public health, economic development, and equity to ensure that the benefits of acting on plastic pollution – including jobs, minimized exposure to harmful chemicals, and clean communities – are available to all.
Today’s announcements build on more than two years of progress under President Biden’s leadership to advance environmental justice. That progress includes:
Delivering on the Justice40 Initiative. Through President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, the Administration is delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized and overburdened by pollution. In total, hundreds of federal programs are being reimagined and transformed to meet the Justice40 goal. Agencies are using the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify disadvantaged communities.
Respecting and elevating Indigenous Knowledge. The Biden-Harris Administration has formally recognized Indigenous Knowledge as one of the many important bodies of knowledge that contributes to the scientific, technical, social, and economic advancements of the United States and our collective understanding of the natural world. The White House engaged more than a thousand individuals, organizations, and Tribal Nations to develop guidance on elevating Indigenous Knowledge in federal research, policy, and decision-making.
Strengthening our regulatory system for the 21st century. Earlier this month, the Biden-Harris Administration rolled out new efforts to promote equitable and meaningful participation in the regulatory process, and OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs proposed new guidance to help agencies better account for the full range of benefits and costs of their regulatory actions. These new steps will produce a more efficient, effective regulatory review process that will help improve people’s lives – from protecting children from harmful toxins to growing our economy.
President Establishes New National Monuments in Nevada and Texas; Directs Secretary of Commerce to Consider Expanding Protections for Pacific Remote Islands Which Would Reach Goal of Conserving 30% of U.S. Ocean by 2030
At the White House Conservation in Action Summit on March 21, President Biden announced major new actions to conserve and restore lands and waters across the nation, including by establishing Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada and Castner Range National Monument in Texas. The President also directed the Secretary of Commerce to consider exercising her authority to protect all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands. These new commitments build on President Biden’s historic climate and environmental record, including delivering on the most ambitious land and water conservation agenda in American history.
The announcements include:
Establishing two new national monuments: Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada and Castner Range National Monument in Texas. The designation of these two national monuments demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protect historically and culturally significant areas and conserve our nation’s treasured outdoor spaces. Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada will honor Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples while conserving our public lands and growing America’s outdoor recreation economy. In Texas, Castner Range National Monument will expand access to the outdoors for the El Paso community while honoring our nation’s veterans and servicemembers. Together, these new national monuments protect nearly 514,000 acres of public lands.
Protecting all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands. The President directed the Secretary of Commerce to consider initiating a new National Marine Sanctuary designation within the next 30 days to protect all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands. If completed, the new sanctuary would ensure the U.S. will reach the President’s goal of conserving at least 30% of ocean waters under American jurisdiction by 2030.
New actions to conserve, restore, and expand access to lands and waters. The Biden-Harris Administration is announcing a series of new steps to conserve, restore, and expand access to lands and waters across the country. These include a proposal to modernize the management of America’s public lands, a plan to harness the power of the ocean to fight the climate crisis, a strategy to better conserve wildlife corridors, and new funding to improve access to outdoor recreation, promote Tribal conservation, reduce wildfire risk, and more.
These actions build on more than two years of the Biden-Harris Administration’s progress and historic investments to advance conservation, restoration, and stewardship nationwide:
Thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden has, over his first two years in office, invested over $10 billion in conservation initiatives – more than any other modern president.
Under the President’s leadership, the Administration is making unprecedented investments in land, water, and wildlife conservation, including by launching the $1 billion America the Beautiful Challenge. These investments will help meet the President’s goal – set during his first week in office – of conserving at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
Establishing Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada
President Biden signed a proclamation establishing the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. This designation will honor Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples by protecting this sacred Nevada landscape and its historically and scientifically important features, while conserving our public lands and growing America’s outdoor recreation economy.
Avi Kwa Ame is considered to be among the most sacred places on Earth by the Mojave, Chemehuevi, and some Southern Paiute people. It is also important to other Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples including the Cocopah, Halchidhoma, Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Kumeyaay, Maricopa, Pai Pai, Quechan, Yavapai, and Zuni Tribes. Its scenic peaks include Avi Kwa Ame (Spirit Mountain), which is designated as a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its religious and cultural importance. The area is also home to the one of the world’s largest Joshua tree forests, and provides continuous habitat or migration corridors for species such as the desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, and Gila monster.
Establishing Castner Range National Monument in Texas
President Biden also signed a proclamation establishing the Castner Range National Monument, in El Paso, Texas. This action will protect the cultural, scientific, and historic objects found within the monument’s boundaries, honor our veterans, servicemembers, and Tribal Nations, and expand access to outdoor recreation on our public lands.
Located on Fort Bliss, Castner Range served as a training and testing site for the U.S. Army during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The Army ceased training at the site and closed Castner Range in 1966. Once the area is sufficiently remediated to be safe for public access, Castner Range will offer unique opportunities for the El Paso community to experience, explore, and learn from nature. President Biden is committed to expanding access to nature for underserved communities that have historically had less access to our public lands, like those bordering Castner Range. Protecting Castner Range connects the area with the Franklin Mountains State Park, creating continuous habitat for wildlife and improved public access for outdoor recreation. Castner Range also hosts significant cultural sites documenting the history of Tribal Nations, including the Apache and Pueblo peoples and the Comanche Nation, Hopi Tribe, and Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.
Directing Consideration of a Sanctuary to Complete Protections for Waters Around the Pacific Remote Islands
Consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to conserving 30% of lands and waters by 2030, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Commerce to, using the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, consider initiating a sanctuary designation within the next 30 days to expand protections around the Pacific Remote Islands southwest of Hawaii. Such protections would encompass areas unaddressed by previous administrations so all areas of U.S. jurisdiction around the islands, atolls, and reef of the Pacific Remote Islands will be protected.
The potential new National Marine Sanctuary identified in the Memorandum would conserve 777,000 square miles, including the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and currently unprotected submerged lands and waters. The region has a rich ancestral tie to many Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island communities. The process for a potential sanctuary designation would allow the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to further explore the area’s scientific, cultural, and ancestral linkages, and tailor its management accordingly.
The President is also directing the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a public process to work with regional Indigenous cultural leaders to appropriately rename the existing Pacific Remote Islands National Monument, and potentially the Islands themselves, to honor the area’s heritage, ancestral pathways, and stopping points for Pacific Island voyagers, and to provide posthumous recognition for young Native Hawaiian men sent to secure U.S. territorial claim to the islands in the run up to World War II.
New Federal and Other Actions to Conserve, Restore, and Expand Access to Lands and Waters
Ocean Climate Action Plan: The Ocean Policy Committee, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is releasing the first-ever United States Ocean Climate Action Plan, a groundbreaking roadmap to harnesses the power of the ocean to advance immediate, transformational steps to protect ocean health and address the climate crisis. Acknowledging that there is no path to a healthy and livable climate without the ocean, the plan outlines new actions on the Administration’s ocean-climate priorities, including efforts to advance climate solutions, promote environmental justice, support healthy communities, and ensure a robust and sustainable ocean economy.
Wildlife Corridors Guidance: The White House Council on Environmental Quality is issuing new guidance to Federal agencies on how to better incorporate ecological connectivity and wildlife corridors into federal planning and decision-making. The guidance highlights the importance of connectivity across terrestrial, marine, and freshwater habitats, encouraging collaboration across management and ownership boundaries with states, Tribes, local governments, and private land owners. This helps deliver on one of the America the Beautiful Initiative’s six early focus areas – supporting collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitat and corridors.
Strengthening the Stewardship of America’s Public Lands: The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management in the coming weeks is seeking public input on a proposed rule that will help update and modernize the agency’s tools and strategies for managing America’s public lands. With climate change imposing mounting impacts on the nation’s public lands, and the growing importance of public lands for recreation and conservation, the proposed rule would help ensure that the nation’s lands continue to provide abundant and well-connected wildlife habitat, supply clean drinking water, and power local economies.
New Partnership to Protect Military Readiness and Preserve Green Space: The Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense are partnering to allocate $80 million through a combination of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and matching funds from DoD’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program (REPI) to preserve green space around military installations and improve access to outdoor recreation for millions of Americans. The Departments will make the funding available to states through a competitive process that could support projects on Tribal, private, state, or local lands.
$100 Million Tribal Conservation Funding Pledge: Today, Native Americans in Philanthropy, in collaboration with Biodiversity Funders Group and 15 philanthropies, is launching the Tribal Nations Conservation Pledge with an initial commitment of more than $100 million. This is a new platform for philanthropic organizations to support the conservation work of Tribal Nations and public-private partnerships between the Biden-Harris Administration, Tribes, and philanthropy. The pledge calls on funders to commit to a self-determined amount of funding, or a self-determined percentage of annual programmatic funding, to support the biodiversity and conservation efforts of Tribes, inter-Tribal organizations, and Tribal consortia.
America the Beautiful 2022 Annual Report: The Biden-Harris Administration is releasing the 2022 America the Beautiful Annual Report, an update on progress made to support locally-led conservation and restoration efforts and meet the President’s goal to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
New Partnership to Accelerate the Conservation of At-Risk Species: The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Alliance of Forest Owners and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement Inc., will announce a memorandum of understanding which formalizes the Wildlife Conservation Initiative, a collaborative partnership focused on advancing the conservation of at-risk and listed species within private working forests nationwide. The announcement comes as the Department of the Interior celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and highlights the landmark law’s importance in preventing imperiled species’ extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife, and conserving the habitats upon which they depend.
Wildlife Crossing Pilot Program: Soon the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Transportation will open applications for the first-of-its-kind $350 million Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program. The program will build infrastructure that is proven to improve roadway safety – particularly in rural communities – and bring down the roughly 200 deaths stemming from more than one million collisions every year between vehicles and wildlife.
Nearly $200 Million to Reduce Wildfire Risk to Communities: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced nearly $200 million in Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) program grants to communities across the country. Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CWDG program is designed to assist communities, including Tribal communities, non-profit organizations, state forestry agencies and Alaska Native corporations with planning for and mitigating wildfire risks to communities and critical infrastructure as the nation faces an ongoing wildfire crisis.
State Wildlife Grants: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing over $56 million for state fish and wildlife agencies through the State Wildlife Grant Program to support conservation and stewardship efforts for imperiled wildlife and their habitats.
Boating Infrastructure Grants: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing over $20 million in grant funding to assist states and territories in the construction, renovation and maintenance of marinas and other boating facilities for outdoor recreation. Grants will support projects in 20 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to increase outdoor recreation access and waterway stewardship.
Pactola Reservoir Protection: The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management announced actions to consider protections for cultural and natural resources in the Pactola Reservoir – Rapid Creek Watershed in South Dakota, including drinking water for Rapid City and Ellsworth Air Force Base, from the adverse impacts of mineral exploration and development. The Pactola Reservoir is the largest and deepest reservoir in the Black Hills National Forest, with 14 miles of shoreline and 150-foot depths on 800 acres and provides high quality recreation for communities and visitors
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.
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.
White House Marks Year of Progress Since President Biden Activated All of Government to Advance Environmental Justice
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.“
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 largestinvestment 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.
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.
Each one a person of remarkable achievement, who lifted themselves up, sometimes from abject poverty; several were the first in their family to go to college, several were immigrants or children of immigrants, and one is a 35th generation Pueblo Indian, the first Native American to lead the Interior Department which historically ruled over Indian lands and routinely violated treaties. The nominees and appointees to key climate and environmental positions are the incarnation of President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign promises, specifically, the first administration to elevating climate and environmental protection to this level and priority.
As Biden said, like his other cabinet picks, these climate, energy and environment nominees and appointees are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting, precedent-breaking, historic, “a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America.”
The contrast to Trump, who declared climate change a “hoax” and whose priorities – to overturn the climate action and environmental protection initiatives of the Obama-Biden administration and elevate to top positions lobbyists and executives from gas, oil, and mining industries, people of privilege and wealth – could not be more stark.
Clean energy, resilient infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and development, are the building blocks to Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan that will employ millions in new jobs and enterprises and keep the United States competitive with the rest of the world. “When we think about climate change, we think jobs.”
Electric cars – incentivized with purchase for the federal fleet – will mean one million auto industry jobs; transforming the electricity sector to being carbon-free “will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.”
He added, “And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice.
“These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions. And this team will get them done.”
Biden introduced his nominees:
Secretary of the Interior, Congresswoman Deb Haaland. Secretary of Energy, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan
Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory
National Climate Advisor and head of the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
Deputy National Climate Advisor, Ali Zaidi.
These nominees – as throughout Biden’s cabinet – are notable for their story and the values their background forged.
Here are their remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Remarks by President-elect Joe Biden
Today I am pleased to announce the team that will lead my Administration’s ambitious plan to address an existential threat of our time — climate change.
Like their fellow-Cabinet nominees and appointments, members of our environment and energy team are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting.
With today’s announcements there will be six African American members of our Cabinet.
After today, our Cabinet won’t just have one or two precedent-breaking appointments, but 12 —including today’s long-overdue appointment of the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.
Already there are more people of color in this Cabinet than any Cabinet ever. More women than ever.
The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be an historic Cabinet.
A Cabinet that looks like America.
That taps into the best of America.
That opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation.
And like the rest of the team, today’s nominees are ready on Day One, which is essential because we literally have no time to lose.
Just this year, wildfires burned more than 5 million acres in California, Washington, and across the West — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.
Intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and across the Gulf and along the East Coast.
Record floods, hurricane-speed windstorms, and severe droughts ravaged the Midwest.
And more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities and small towns, on coastlines and farmlands, in red states and blue states.
Billions of dollars in damage. Homes and memories washed away. Small businesses closed up for good. Crops and farmlands destroyed for the next generation family farmer.
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
And so many climate and health calamities are colliding at once.
It’s not just a pandemic that keeps people inside — it’s poor air quality.
Multiple studies have shown air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from Covid-19.
Folks, we’re in a crisis.
Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change.
We need to meet this moment with the urgency it demands as we would during any national emergency.
And from the crisis, we need to seize the opportunity to build back better than we were before. That’s what this Administration will do.
When we think about climate change, we think “jobs.” Good-paying union jobs.
A key plank of our Build Back Better economic plan is building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and clean energy future.
We can put millions of Americans to work modernizing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather.
When we think about renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers, racing to lead the global market.
We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.
We see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing innovative, energy-conserving buildings and homes. This will reduce electricity consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
And we will challenge everyone to step up.
We will bring America back into the Paris Agreement and put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change.
The current Administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked Big Oil companies over the American workers. Our Administration will not only bring those standards back — we will set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.
We see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country.
We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
Not only that — the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles.
And we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying clean, electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.
But we need to get to work right away.
We’ll need scientists at national labs, land-grant universities, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.
We’ll need ironworkers and welders to install them.
That’s how we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
We know how to do this.
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy and weatherized more than a million homes.
The Recovery Act made record clean energy investments — $90 Billion — on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.
We will do it again — bigger, and faster, and better than before.
We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to homeownership.
We’ll create more than a quarter-million jobs right away, to do things like working toward plugging the 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells that the EPA says pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.
We’ll launch a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.
And I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right. No, we haven’t fulfilled that right for a generation or more in places like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans, especially in low-income white, Black, Brown, and Native American communities who too often don’t have clean air and clean water is not going to be easy.
But it is necessary. And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice.
These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions.
And this team will get them done.
For Secretary of the Interior, I nominate Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
She’s of the Pueblo people. A 35th-generation New Mexican.
She’s from a military family. Her mom, also Pueblo, served in the United States Navy. Her dad, Norwegian American, a Marine now buried in Arlington.
A single mom, she raised her child while running a small business.
When times were tough, they relied on food stamps.
Congresswoman Haaland graduated from law school and got involved in politics.
Two years ago, she became one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress.
She serves on the Armed Services Committee, and Committee on Natural Resources, and Chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, where she’s earned the respect of a broad coalition of people — from tribal leaders to environmental groups to labor.
As the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in the history of the United States of America, she will be a true steward of our national parks, natural resources, and all of our lands.
The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial.
With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship, and I am honored she accepted this critical role.
For Secretary of Energy, I nominate Jennifer Granholm.
The first woman to ever serve as Governor of Michigan.
In 2009, she faced the collapse of a defining industry of her state and our nation.
But I saw firsthand how she responded. She bet on the autoworkers. She bet on the promise of a clean energy future.
Her leadership helped rescue the American auto industry, helped save one million American jobs, and helped bring Detroit back.
Governor Granholm is just like the state she led so effectively for eight years: hard-working, resilient, and forward-thinking.
Someone not only capable of solving urgent problems, but someone who sees the opportunities of the future always with her eyes on the needs and aspirations of working people.
Throughout her career, she’s worked with states, cities, business, and labor to promote a clean energy future with new jobs, new industries, cleaner and more affordable energy.
Now, I’m asking her to bring that vision and faith in America to the Department of Energy.
For Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I nominate Michael Regan.
A proud son of North Carolina, he turned a passion for exploring the woods and waters of the Inner Coastal Plain into a deep expertise in environmental science.
He got his start at the EPA serving in both Democratic and Republican Administrations, working on everything from reducing air pollution to improving energy efficiency.
He currently serves as Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, where he’s brought people together across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help build a new clean energy economy, creating quality jobs, and confronting climate change.
He led the charge to clean up the Cape Fear River, contaminated for years by dangerous toxic chemicals.
And he created North Carolina’s first board of its kind to address environmental justice and equity.
It helps lift up frontline and fenceline communities who had carried the burdens of industrial progress for too long, without sharing in the benefits.
Michael would be the second African American official and first African American man to serve in this position.
He shares my belief in forging consensus and finding common purpose.
He is the leader who will reassert the EPA’s place as the world’s premier environmental protection agency that safeguards our planet, protects our lives, and strengthens our economy for all Americans.
For Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I nominate Brenda Mallory.
An accomplished public servant. A brilliant environmental lawyer.
A daughter of a working-class family who has dedicated her life to solving the most complex environmental challenges facing America.
She has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, helping safeguard our public lands and helping communities manage their natural resources responsibly.
As Chair of CEQ, I’m asking her to coordinate our environmental efforts across the entire federal government to solve some of the most persistent environmental problems America faces today.
Brenda would be the first African American official to hold this critical position.
We are fortunate that one of the most widely respected environmental leaders in the country accepted the call to serve again.
To serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor and lead the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, I appoint Gina McCarthy.
The fact I’ve asked a former EPA Administrator to take this role and lead this new office shows how serious I am.
Gina’s got more than 30 years of experience.
She’s a policy wonk and a people person.
A problem-solver and coalition builder.
As EPA Administrator, she was instrumental in carrying out the Obama-Biden Climate Action Plan.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Getting toxins out of the air we breathe. Conserving critical water sources.
She led our effort to help lower carbon emissions of existing power plants and power plants of the future.
And by doing the necessary work here at home, she helped us rally the world around the Paris Climate Accords.
Today, I’m asking her to take a singular focus on carrying out our ambitious climate agenda here at home, while my Special Envoy John Kerry leads our climate efforts around the world.
I’m grateful to work alongside her again.
And to serve as Deputy National Climate Advisor, I appoint Ali Zaidi.
He served as a top climate advisor to President Obama and me at the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.
He helped draft and implement our Climate Action Plan and secure the Paris Climate Agreement.
He currently serves as New York’s Deputy Secretary of Energy and Environment and the State’s Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance.
He’s helping to create jobs generating solar and wind power, jobs building electric charging stations and a more modern grid, bold climate action grounded in science, economics, and public health.
And, he’s an immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in the Rust Belt, outside Erie, Pennsylvania.
Ali knows we can beat the climate crisis with jobs.
He knows we can deliver environmental justice and revitalize communities too often overlooked and forgotten.
And every day he’ll walk into the White House, knowing the world is looking for America to lead.
To each of you, thank you for answering the call to serve.
To your families, thank you.
We could not do this without you or them.
To the career civil servants at these agencies, we look forward to working with you to once again carry out your department’s mission with honor and integrity.
And to the American people — yes, the goals I’ve laid today are bold.
The challenges ahead are daunting.
But I want you to know that we can do this.
We must do this.
And we will do this.
We are America.
And there’s nothing we can’t do when we work together.
May God bless you all.
May God protect our troops.
Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland
I’m proud to stand here — on the ancestral homelands of the Lenape Tribal Nation.
The president-elect and vice president-elect are committed to a diverse cabinet, and I’m honored and humbled to accept their nomination for Secretary of the Interior.
Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. My life has not been easy — I struggled with homelessness, relied on food stamps, and raised my child as a single mom.
These struggles give me perspective to help people succeed.
My grandparents — who were taken away from their families as children and sent to boarding school, in an effort to destroy their traditions and identities — maintained our culture.
This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former Secretary of the Interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ us. I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.
I also stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, and all the people who have sacrificed so that I can be here.
My dad was a US Marine, and no matter where we were stationed, he made sure we spent time outdoors.
Time with my dad in the mountains or on the beach and time with my grandparents in the cornfield at Laguna taught me to respect the Earth and to value our resources. I carry those values with me everywhere. I’m a product of their resilience.
As our country faces the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice, the Interior Department has a role to address these challenges.
The president-elect’s goals are driven by justice and empowering communities who have shouldered the burdens of environmental negligence.
And we will ensure that the decisions at Interior will once again be driven by science.
We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community coming together in common purpose — this country can and will tackle this challenge.
The president-elect and vice president-elect know that issues under Interior’s jurisdiction aren’t simply about conservation — they’re woven in with justice, good jobs, and closing the racial, wealth, and health gaps.
This historic moment will not go by without the acknowledgment of the many people who have believed in me over the years and had the confidence in me for this position.
I’ll be fierce for all of us, for our planet, and all of our protected land.
I am honored and ready to serve.
Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm
Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect — thank you for your confidence.
I bring my gratitude, and that of the loves of my life: My best friend and husband Dan Mulhern, my glorious children and their equally magnificent spouses — Connor and Alexis, Cece and Damián, and Jack.
My commitment to clean energy was forged in the fire.
I was the Governor of Michigan when the Great Recession struck, pushing the auto industry — the lifeblood of our state — to the brink of collapse.
Workers were losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
Banks wouldn’t lend; families lost their homes; our unemployment rate shot up to 15 percent.
But then, thankfully, as now, “help was on the way.”
Joe Biden and the Obama administration worked with us to rescue the auto industry, save a million jobs, retool and electrify Detroit for the future, and diversify Michigan’s economy on the strength of a new sector: clean energy.
Today, in the midst of another harrowing crisis, clean energy remains one of the most promising economic growth sectors in the world.
Over the next two decades, countries will invest trillions of dollars in electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and energy-efficient appliances and buildings.
They’ll upgrade their electric grids using smart technology.
Millions of good-paying jobs will be created — but where will those jobs be?
In China, or other countries fighting tooth-and-nail to corner the clean energy market? Or here in America?
The path to building back better starts with building and deploying those products here, stamping them Made in America, and exporting them around the world.
We can win those jobs for American workers.
I know what those jobs will mean for families.
Though I’m proud to have been a U.S. citizen for 40 years, I arrived here as a Canadian immigrant at age four, brought by parents seeking opportunity.
My mom is a funny and fierce Irish/Welsh “Newfie” from Newfoundland, Canada — an island fishing province they call “The Rock.”
Like many women in her generation, she never went to college.
My dad died earlier this year of a cerebral hemorrhage.
He was born into extreme poverty, in a cabin in rural Canada with no running water.
My grandfather had immigrated from Sweden during the depression; unable to find a job to provide for his young family, he shot himself in desperation when my dad was three years old.
My grandmother became a single mom, with three young children, living in dire poverty.
My dad found work at a sawmill at 11. And after he married my mom, they came to America for better jobs.
Despite not having a college degree, my hard-working, gentle dad got the fair chance he was looking for in America — he started out as a bank teller, and retired as head of the bank.
It is because of my family’s journey — and my experience fighting for hardworking Michigan families — that I have become obsessed.
Obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America — obsessed with seizing the opportunities of a clean energy future.
We can let other countries beat us to those opportunities, or we can get in the game.
I’m so ready, and honored, Coach, that you are putting me on the field with this amazing team — to help create those jobs in every pocket of this country, and especially in the hardest-hit places, for the people still waiting on the fair chance they need.
Thank you for tapping me to work on their behalf.
Remarks by Nominee for Administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan
Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect: Thank you for this opportunity.
Growing up as a child, hunting and fishing with my father and grandfather in eastern North Carolina — I developed a deep love and respect for the outdoors and our natural resources.
But I also experienced respiratory issues that required me to use an inhaler on days when pollutants and allergens were especially bad.
I’ve always been curious about the connections between our environment and our health — how the world around us contributes to, or detracts from, our enjoyment of life.
So after completing my education in environmental science, there was one place in particular I wanted to work: the EPA.
When I started that first summer internship, I never imagined I would one day be nominated to lead the agency as its Administrator.
So this opportunity is a dream come true.
Since the start of my career, my goals have been the same: To safeguard our natural resources; to improve the quality of our air and water; to protect families and communities and help them seize the opportunities of a cleaner, healthier world.
Now, I’m honored to pursue those goals alongside leaders who understand what’s at stake.
When President-elect Biden called out the plight of fenceline communities during the campaign, he made it clear that we would no longer just deal with issues up to the fencelines of facilities — we would actually see the people on the other side of those fences.
He has already backed up that commitment by assembling a team that reflects America — and I’m proud to join the vice president-elect as a fellow HBCU graduate in this administration.
Together, this team will ensure that environmental justice and human impacts are top of mind as we tackle the tough issues.
After nearly a decade at the EPA, I know firsthand the remarkable dedication and talent of the career staff.
And as a state official, I understand how the actions of the EPA can help or hurt local efforts.
We are going to ensure that the EPA is once again a strong partner for the states — not a roadblock.
We will be driven by our conviction that every person in our great country has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthier life no matter how much money they have in their pocket, the color of their skin, or what community they live in.
We will move with urgency on climate change, protecting our drinking water, and enacting an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities.
But we also know that these challenges can’t be solved by regulation alone.
And we know that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive — they go hand in hand.
We need an all-hands-on-deck approach from industry to individuals, finding common ground to build back better for workers, for communities, for our economy, and for our planet.
And that’s what we’ll pursue together.
I look forward to continuing that work on behalf of the American people.
Remarks by Appointee for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory
Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect —I am honored and humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me, and I look forward to getting to work with this incredible team.
I am especially grateful for this chance to return to public service at a time when agency personnel are looking for optimism, and so many communities are struggling under the weight of persistent and interwoven crises.
I know first-hand the challenges that everyday people face when one unexpected illness or expense can upend the economic stability of a family.
I grew up in the working-class community of Waterbury, Connecticut — a town not so different from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
I know the faces of the marginalized, and I appreciate the challenges of urban pollution.
While the words climate change and environmental injustice were not part of my vernacular back then, the evidence of their impacts was all around.
In that setting, there was plenty of opportunity to work to make a difference in people’s lives.
For my parents, and particularly my father, dedication to tackling community challenges was vitally important.
Service, in all its forms, was essential.
They taught me to be a problem-solver — to recognize that each of us is blessed with different talents, and we are called to bring those gifts to bear wherever we are to work with anyone and everyone to make things better in the communities we share.
This has been a driving force and a guiding principle on my journey.
I earned a high school scholarship that changed the course of my life.
I became the first in my family to go to college, I attended law school, and at each stage, I was aware of how different the world I came from was from the one I was entering.
I didn’t set out to specialize in environmental issues, but once I started, I was always mindful of the practical implications of decisions.
As a staffer at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights, I learned that environmental protection and ensuring the health and wellbeing of all communities had to be reconciled.
It is essential that we deploy smart and humane policy to help communities pull themselves back from the edge and improve the health, security, and prosperity of all their people.
The Build Back Better plan is poised to breathe new life into the Council on Environmental Quality.
CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts.
I am grateful to the President-elect and the Vice President-elect for elevating this work and lifting up the communities where it will make a world of difference.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve.
Remarks by Appointee for White House Climate Coordinator, Gina McCarthy
Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect—
Thank you for the opportunity to serve — and to work alongside this talented team.
The issues I’ll be taking on in this role are personal to me, and have been for as long as I can remember.
As keen listeners may have already guessed, I grew up in and around Boston.
My Dad was a teacher in the Boston Schools for more than 40 years; my Mom waitressed in local doughnut shops.
Looking back, I guess we were a lower-middle-class family. Instead of expensive vacations, my sisters and I did our adventuring in our backyard, playing in the woods and around ponds in our hometown.
A beach day for our family was a swim in Boston Harbor.
That meant coming out of the water with oil and other things stuck to our skin — so we’d have to dry and clean ourselves at the same time.
That was back in the 60s, before the first Earth Day — not the Boston Harbor of today.
I can remember jumping up to close the windows in my classroom when the chemical stench from the nearby rubber factory would start wafting in.
That smell kept us from outside recess on more days than I cared to remember.
So I figured out early on that there was a connection between our environment and our health.
And that understanding drew me into a long career of public service helping families and communities like mine, and those facing much steeper and more insidious legacies of environmental harm to overcome the challenges that were holding them back.
Environmental protection is part of my moral fiber.
And I am proud of the progress we’ve made and the work I did in local and state governments as well as at EPA to make air and water cleaner, make communities safer and more livable, and begin to confront climate change.
I’m here today because climate change isn’t only a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of people, and the precious natural resources we depend on.
Defeating that threat is the fight of our lifetimes.
And our success will require the engagement of every community and every sector in our nation, and every country across our world.
But the opportunities to act on climate right now fill me with hope, energy, and excitement.
We not only have the responsibility to meet this moment together, we have the capacity to meet this moment together.
The President-elect has put together the strongest climate plan ever raised to this level of leadership.
It rises to this incredible moment of opportunity to build back better for our health, for jobs, and for communities that have been systemically disadvantaged for years.
It will be my honor to help turn this plan into promises kept by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science — and the values of environmental justice — to build a better future for my two—soon to be three—little grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come.
Thank you for this opportunity to help put Americans back to work in innovative, good-paying jobs to improve the health of our communities and to help clear the path for people in every hometown in America to live brighter, cleaner, more vibrant lives.
Remarks by Appointee for Deputy White House Climate Coordinator, Ali Zaidi
Thank you President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.
I am deeply honored to answer your call to serve this nation that I love, especially at this moment of consequence.
For our planet and the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident.
But we can also see the promise in the jobs — casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations and building new industries.
And in the possibility of repairing communities hurt places where the pollution has been heavy, and opportunity has never quite reached.
Mr. President-elect & Madam Vice President-elect, you campaigned on delivering that promise by mounting a response equal to this existential threat, not only by listening to the science, but also by invigorating the economy. Revving up manufacturing and innovation, spurring good-paying union jobs and advancing justice — long overdue.
Leading by the example of America at its best.
When my parents moved from Pakistan to Pennsylvania, they brought two little kids — and a few suitcases of dreams.
Dreams their kids are living today:
Danish, my brother: a doctor on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, and me: moving to frontlines of the fight against climate change.
To be healthy, to have purpose, and to be able to give back — that is how our parents taught us to define the American Dream.
I am so grateful to be serving alongside the team you have assembled.
Grateful for Gina McCarthy, my guide and good friend, for the incredible and inspiring leaders on this stage, and for those with whom we’ll partner all across your administration.
This has been a trying year for all Americans — marked by so much loss. But throughout, you have been there for us.
And when the pandemic hit closer to home, you were there for me.
Mr. President-elect, that is who you are. A person of faith and family, decency and goodness.
Your leadership gives me hope.
My students, scientists imagining and inventing, give me hope
Young organizers, mobilizing and advocating, give me hope
And together, I know: We will meet this moment.
Remarks Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
A few months ago, as wildfires raged across the West, I traveled home to California.
What I saw on that trip — and so many others in recent years — was heartbreaking.
Homes and neighborhoods in ashes.
Firefighters battling fires, while their own homes burned to the ground.
Some of the most toxic air, anywhere in the world.
Two years ago, in 2018, when I visited communities like Paradise that had been devastated by wildfires, that year’s fire season was considered the worst in California’s history.
This fire season was even worse. The worst in California’s history — and America’s history.
And of course, fires are only one symptom of our growing climate crisis.
In recent years, families across the Midwest have experienced historic flooding, while families along our coasts have endured some of the most active hurricane seasons on record.
They only name a storm if it’s particularly dangerous. This year, we had more named storms than ever before.
Our climate crisis is not a partisan issue.
And it is not a hoax.
It is an existential threat to all of us, particularly poor communities and communities of color who bear the greatest risks from polluted air, polluted water, and a failing infrastructure.
Years ago, when I was District Attorney in San Francisco, I created the first environmental justice unit in the city — and one of the first in our country.
Because I believe that everyone has a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
So does the president-elect.
Part of the reason I was so proud to join him as his running mate was because he was proposing one of the most ambitious climate plans in history.
A plan to secure carbon-pollution free electricity by 2035.
A plan to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050.
A plan to invest in a clean energy future, and create millions of good-paying, union jobs, along the way.
And the team that President-elect Biden and I are announcing today will help make that plan a reality.
They are some of our country’s most seasoned public servants and climate experts.
They have experience mastering the most effective ways to get things done when it comes to climate change.
They recognize the importance of bringing the private sector and organized labor together with government to meet this challenge, and confront this crisis head-on with our allies and partners around the world.
And they are compassionate leaders who understand that, ultimately, addressing climate change is about building safer communities, and healthier communities, and thriving communities, for all Americans.
These public servants reflect the very best of America.And they are the team we need to meet this urgent challenge.
In his 2015 encyclical, the Holy Father Pope Francis wrote — quote: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”
Starting on January 20th, we will work to heed those words and come together, here in our country and around the world, to build and protect our common home for generations to come.