Even before officially taking office, Joe Biden’s green energy promises began flowing from his twitter and team. Originally writing about this in November 2020, we thought it was time to check in to see what has transpired. The goal is not to create a comprehensive list, but rather look at some of the most impactful legislation and actions he has taken.
Rejoining Paris Climate Agreement
The Paris Climate Agreement is an international treaty, between almost every country, centered around climate change. Specifically, it aims to limit global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the last months of Trump’s administration the U.S. left the agreement.
On his first day in office, Joe Biden put in motion the actions to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. The U.S. officially rejoined the international treaty in February of 2021. This puts the U.S. back in alignment with the rest of the world, working together to slow global warming. Rejoining the agreement should also mean more federal money focused into green and renewable energy sources. Based on the actions discussed below, we see the administration putting their money where their mouth is.
Federal Sustainability Plan
The main headline of this executive order is to reduce emissions 65% by 2030 for federal operations. It further aims to make the federal government carbon-neutral by 2050. The goal is to accomplish this task via a few different methods.
One of those methods is to purchase electricity exclusively from sources that do not emit carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases. This means switching away from fossil fuels towards green energy such as solar power or wind. The caveat is that they want the energy to be produced within the same regional grid in which it is consumed. This means grids all around the country will also have to make a shift towards producing renewable energy.
New York Bight Wind Leases
In February of 2022, the Bureau of Energy Management held an auction of six areas in the New York Bight. The leased land is to be used for the development of offshore wind energy. The auction is the nation’s highest grossing offshore energy lease sale in history, totaling $4.37 billion.
For the Biden administration, this is a major milestone of reaching their 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. There are expected to be seven offshore lease auctions by 2025 to help reach this green energy goal. This first auction had a great amount of “enthusiasm for the clean energy economy,” as Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said.
Defense Production Act for Clean Energy
Just last week Biden issued a memorandum for the Secretary of Energy. It was pursuant of the Defense Product Act of 1950, focused on solar cells (solar panels) and module components. In the memorandum, it says that “to meet the requirements of clean energy economy is essential to our national security.” Biden is pursuing two actions to push forward with his clean energy goals.
The first action is to purchase the required materials in order to keep momentum of going green. He has also promised, outside of the memorandum, that his administration will not impose any new import tariffs on solar equipment. So for the next two years, people in the US looking to go solar can continue to get solar panels at better prices than if the tariffs were implemented.
The second action is calling for expanding of domestic production for solar panels and their components. Once again, the memorandum states that not having these resources could severely impair the national defense capability. The timing of getting the production of these components is good news for anyone looking to go solar. With over two years left in his term, this means we will hopefully have U.S. made solar panels soon. This means even if any following administration imposes tariffs on imported solar panels, we will still have producers in the U.S.
Build Back Better Act
After much negotiation the Build Back Better Act narrowly passed in the House in November 2021. Though over six months later it still has an uphill battle to pass in the Senate. If passed in its current form, this bill would also include lots of renewable energy incentives.
While it seems unlikely to pass in its current form, including a large fund with the sole intention of shifting the U.S. economy to renewable energy sources is a key part of the bill. And though negotiations continue, this part of the bill doesn’t seem to be what certain Congressmen are getting hung up on.
Biden has lived up to many promises that were easy to make and keep, such as rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. He has also shifted the landscape of leasing federal land from focusing on fossil fuels to that of renewable energy. While there is a lot more work still remaining to achieve his administration’s carbon goals, he has acted in ways that are congruent with his words.
While more pieces of the puzzle are continuing to come down, such as his latest memorandum evoking the Defense Production Act, and the passing of the Build Back Better Act, only time will tell what, if any, results these actions produce.
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