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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden signs series of orders to tackle climate change | Republicans press Granholm on fossil fuels during confirmation hearing

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden signs series of orders to tackle climate change | Republicans press Granholm on fossil fuels during confirmation hearing
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IT’S CLIMATE DAY.

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The orders… President Biden on Wednesday signed three executive actions aimed at addressing the climate crisis, kicking off the process of meeting U.S. obligations under the Paris agreement while directing the government to purchase electric vehicles and pause new oil and gas leases on public lands.

The sweeping package of executive orders, part of the administration’s “climate day,” hits on some of Biden’s major campaign promises: committing the U.S. to conserving 30 percent of public lands and waters by 2030; pausing the process of granting leases on public lands or offshore waters; and putting the U.S. on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

The package formally establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, which will be led by climate adviser Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyBiden climate adviser says Texas storm 'a wake-up call' Climate change rears its ugly head, but Biden steps up to fight it The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan MORE, and creates the National Climate Task Force, bringing together 21 federal agencies for a whole-of-government approach promised by the Biden administration.

It also creates a Civilian Climate Corps, modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, a move the new administration argues will put “a new generation of Americans to work” conserving and restoring public lands and addressing the changing climate.

The climate-specific orders are paired with another on scientific integrity, a nod to career federal employees who complained their scientific work was stymied under the Trump administration.

Several of Wednesday's orders build upon those already signed in the earliest days of the administration.

Drawing on his Buy American order, the orders direct federal agencies to procure carbon-pollution free, zero-emission electric cars that are produced in the U.S.

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In pausing new oil activity on federal lands, the order directs the Interior Department to limit new leases “to the extent possible,” while excluding oil activity on Native American lands that can be a serious revenue generator for tribes. The order also directs agencies to end federal subsidies for fossil fuels “as consistent with applicable law.”

In addition, that order directs Interior to look for ways to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030.

The package also builds on Biden's Day 1 order to rejoin the Paris climate accord, kicking off the process for setting the goals the U.S. must meet under the agreement and developing a climate finance plan to help other countries address global warming.

Read more about the nitty gritty of the moves here

What does this mean for fossil fuels? Biden's executive orders include one temporarily pausing federal oil and gas leases and setting in motion potentially longer-lasting restrictions on federal lands production of fossil fuels. 

The order directs the Interior Department to pause the leases while it reviews the program and consider whether to adjust how much money companies pay to the government to extract coal, oil and gas offshore. 

Republicans and industry bashed the move as a job killer, while environmentalists praised it as a first step and some also questioned how impactful the immediate action will be. 

In the order, Biden said the department should pause the leases “to the extent consistent with applicable law” and that they should be halted “pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices.”

The order also called for consideration of whether to adjust coal oil and gas royalties or “other appropriate actions” to account for climate change impacts. 

“We’re going to review and reset the oil and gas leasing program,” Biden said before signing the orders. “We’re going to start to properly manage lands and waterways.”

He also reiterated that he would not ban fracking, a controversial method of extracting fossil fuels from rocks that has been linked to water contamination. 

In Wednesday’s order, Biden doubled down on his campaign pledge to modify royalties to account for climate costs but didn’t go as far as “banning” new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, which he also said he would do on the campaign trail.

The action also took some action to reduce fossil fuel subsidies by directing agencies to ensure that “federal funding is not directly subsidizing fossil fuels” and telling the White House budget office not to include subsidies from future budget requests. 

Read more on the fossil fuel implications here

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Biden is also setting the state internationally… The White House on Wednesday announced it would begin to craft the goals the U.S. will need to meet under the Paris climate accord while further cementing the role climate change will play in the administration's diplomacy and national security planning.

Biden signed a trio of executive orders that drive numerous policy changes surrounding climate change while seeking to establish a new reputation for the U.S. on the world stage.

“He makes climate central to foreign policy planning, to diplomacy, and to national security preparedness,” special envoy John KerryJohn KerryEconomic growth in Africa will not be achieved by a blanket ban on fossil fuels Biden can build on Pope Francis's visit to Iraq OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE said at a White House briefing.

The order officially kicks off the process of crafting America’s goal under the Paris agreement even as Senate Republicans have sought to block the process, arguing they deserve a chance to review the deal that Biden reentered on his first day in office.

Both of Biden’s top climate officials — Kerry and national climate adviser McCarthy — were tight-lipped about what those targets might look like even as Biden has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and other developed nations have set similar mid-century goals.

McCarthy said the administration would announce its greenhouse gas reduction target under the deal, known as a nationally determined contribution (NDC), prior to hosting an Earth Day climate summit.

“We're going to have to actually develop the most aggressive NDC that we can to deliver the kind of boost that Secretary Kerry is looking for, to be able to ensure that our international efforts are robust and sufficient to address the challenge internationally,” she said.

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Kerry also pledged to press China — responsible for roughly 30 percent of the world’s emissions — to make bigger strides in addressing climate change.

China has often been a talking point for Republicans who say the U.S. shouldn’t participate in the Paris accord without stronger commitments from Beijing.

Kerry noted trade and intellectual property disputes wouldn’t deter the U.S. from being aggressive on the climate front. 

“Those issues will never be traded for anything that has to do with climate. That's not going to happen,” Kerry said.

Read more on the international and national security front here

GETTING ENERGIZED: Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee pressed Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmEnergy Dept to restart Obama-era loans to renewable energy companies Granholm calls for Texas grid to weatherize, connect to other grids OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation | House passes major public lands package | Biden administration won't defend Trump-era relaxation of bird protections MORE on fossil fuel issues during her sometimes tense confirmation hearing on Wednesday. 

Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, will be tasked with helping implement the president’s goal of expanding clean energy as part of an effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 

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Both President Biden and Granholm have stressed that they want to create jobs as part of the transition, with Granholm saying during the hearing the goal is to create 10 million jobs. 

Republicans, particularly those from fossil fuel-producing states, expressed skepticism during the hearing about replacing oil and gas jobs. 

In opening remarks, Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination Interior Department reverses Trump policy that it says improperly restricted science Biden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation MORE (R-Wyo.), who will be the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he won’t “sit idly by ... if the Biden administration enforces policies that threaten Wyoming’s economy or the lifeblood of so many people in my home state.”

He also asked Granholm if it is a “good thing” that the U.S. is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer. 

“It is a good thing, and I look forward to working with you to make sure that it’s clean and reduces [greenhouse gas] emissions,” Granholm said. 

At several points during the hearing, Granholm stressed her support for still-developing carbon capture and storage technology that would pull emitted carbon from the air and her thoughts that it would be an important part of producing those fuels in a cleaner manner. 

And Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyTrump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC Republicans, please save your party Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra MORE (R-La.) expressed concerns over how long it would take for the jobs to materialize. 

“If you’ve lost a job that is putting food on your table now, it’s cold comfort to know that years from now, in a different state, perhaps with a different training ... there will be another job available,” Cassidy said. 

“When we provided incentives for job providers to locate in Michigan in clean energy in Michigan, they came,” Granholm responded. 

Read more on her hearing here

END OF AN ERA: “Well, at last it’s time to say farewell, to my battered #TimeToWakeUp poster, and to a run of more than 270 climate speeches. The conditions are at last in place for a real solution. Now, it’s time to get to work,” Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseFeds looking at communications between lawmakers, Capitol rioters: report FBI director commits to providing Senate information after grilling from Democrat Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda MORE (D-R.I.) tweeted of his regular speeches on the need to confront climate change. 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

FirstEnergy, Duke challenge Sierra Club claims of 'greenwashing' on climate goals, UtilityDive reports

Republican opposition to Haaland grows more vocal, E&E News reports

California regulators express 'deep concern' over SCE 2020 power shutoff practices, UtilityDive reports

ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday…

Biden to sign series of orders to tackle climate change

Doomsday Clock stays at closest point to midnight

GOP senator to introduce bill barring Biden from restricting drilling on federal lands

House Democrats seek to block West Coast, Arctic offshore drilling

Republicans press Granholm on fossil fuels during confirmation hearing

Olympic Committee pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

White House lays groundwork for international approach on climate change

Pentagon declares climate change a 'national security issue'

Biden temporary pause on federal oil leases sets stage for future restrictions