by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden promised to counter climate change on the campaign trail, but Democrats are complaining he is not meeting the moment now he is in office.
After Biden’s pledges were de-prioritized due to the pandemic economy and then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) scuttling the latest iteration of the president’s social welfare and climate spending bill amid record-breaking heat waves has thrust the issue back into the political spotlight.
Biden traveled to Massachusetts on Wednesday to unveil the first in a series of climate executive orders since the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. That ruling has limited how his administration can regulate emissions.
At a former Brayton Point coal-fired power plant, Biden committed to helping communities proactively deal with extreme heat and other climate-related events, investing in renewable offshore wind energy opportunities and jobs over fossil fuels.
While Biden described climate as “a clear and present danger,” he declined to declare it a national emergency, much to the frustration of activists from Evergreen Action to the Sunrise Movement.
“In the coming days, weeks, and months, President Biden must take bold regulatory and executive action on climate that matches the urgency of the crisis we face,” Evergreen Action Executive Director Jamal Raad said. “Climate change is happening now, and we have no option but to treat it like the emergency that it is. The time for speeches is over, it’s time for concrete action.”
The Sunrise Movement was more succinct: “Declare a climate emergency now @POTUS.”
The Republican National Committee did not specifically criticize Biden’s Wednesday executive order. Instead, the organization focused on his broader climate policies as more than 100 million Americans contend with heat warnings.