WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is promising “strong executive action” to combat climate change, despite dual setbacks in recent weeks that have restricted his ability to regulate carbon emissions and boost clean energy such as wind and solar power.
The Supreme Court last month limited how the nation’s main anti–air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Then late Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D–W.Va., said he wants to delay sweeping environmental legislation that Democrats have pushed as central to achieving Biden’s ambitious climate goals.
Biden, who has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, said Friday that “action on climate change and clean energy remains more urgent than ever.‘’
If the Senate will not act to address climate change and boost clean energy, “I will take strong executive action to meet this moment,‘’ Biden said in a statement from Saudi Arabia, where he met Friday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Biden did not specify what actions he will take on climate, but said they will create jobs, improve energy security, bolster domestic manufacturing and protect consumers from oil and gas price increases. “I will not back down,‘’ he promised.
Some advocates urged Biden to use the moment to declare a national climate emergency and reinstate a ban on crude oil exports, among other steps.
Declaring a climate emergency would allow Biden to redirect spending to accelerate renewable energy such as wind and solar and speed the nation’s transition away from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
Climate advocates, including some of Manchin’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate, said Manchin’s announcement that he cannot back the climate provisions in the Senate bill — at least for now — frees Biden of the obligation to cater to a powerful, coal–state senator eager to protect his energy–producing home state. Manchin’s vote is decisive in the evenly divided Senate, where Republicans unanimously oppose climate action.
“Free at last. Let’s roll. Do it all and start it now,‘’ tweeted Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D–R.I. who has long pushed stronger action on climate. “With legislative climate options now closed, it’s now time for executive Beast Mode,‘’ Whitehouse wrote.