After four years of defending our children’s health and the future of our world from an unprecedented and radical series of clean-air rollbacks—AND a refusal to do anything to address the climate crisis—we can finally go to work building a more secure and just world.
President Biden and Vice President Harris campaigned—and won—on bold climate action.
We have high expectations for the next four years. We want the Biden-Harris administration to charge ahead on all possible fronts, using all possible means to cut climate and air pollution. We need a blitz, not a dribble. We need action, not papers.
The Biden administration must leap into the future with a bold, ambitious plan to cut climate and air pollution.
The new administration has begun work tackling climate change and environmental justice. This is what they’ve accomplished so far, and how these actions relate to the top priorities for the more than one million members of Moms Clean Air Force.
Moms Demanded Bold Action on Day One—So Far, So Good
On his first day in office, President Biden kept his promise to Americans and signed the Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis to recommit the United States to the Paris Climate Accord, restore science as the foundation for health-protective standards that keep our air clean, and help restore many of the environmental protections the previous administration gutted, including
- Reviewing the dozens of Trump regulatory rollbacks that threaten our air quality and make climate change worse; and
- Specifically committing to fixing the Trump EPA rollbacks of the federal methane rules and the Clean Car Standards, and the weakening of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards.
On January 27, 2021, just one week after his inauguration, President Biden signed a series of executive orders and presidential memorandums focused on climate change and environmental justice.
His Executive Order on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reinstates this important council, charged with advising the president on policy related to science, technology, and innovation.
The Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad puts climate progress at the center of all US foreign policy and diplomacy. It also initiates the process of US membership in the Kigali Amendment, a global climate deal that phases down superpollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Here at home, President Biden has created a National Climate Task Force comprising leaders from 21 different government agencies. This task force will set the US on a path to a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035.
President Biden also wove environmental justice into the core of government functions by
- Creating a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council;
- Asking all federal agencies to develop programs and policies to address the disproportionate health, environmental economic, and climate impacts on low-income communities and communities of color;
- Directing 40% of the benefits of relevant federal programs to environmental justice communities; and
- Creating an environmental justice screening tool to help identify disadvantage communities that should receive aid.
Biden’s First 100 Days: Commit to Climate Leadership and Restore Our Right to Clean Air
With a strong climate champion in Biden’s nominee for EPA Administrator, Michael Regan, and climate champions John Kerry, serving as the presidential climate envoy, and Gina McCarthy, as the White House national climate advisor, the Biden administration can commit to climate leadership domestically and globally. Moms want the Biden Administration to:
- Commit to ambitious and swift reduction in carbon and methane emissions.
- Commit to the rapid deployment of clean electricity.
- Commit to eliminate climate pollution from cars and trucks by transitioning to 100% electric vehicles by 2040.
- Commit to investments in building out infrastructure to support electric vehicles.
- Restore longstanding state authority to set strong greenhouse gas emissions standards from cars, something the Trump administration tried to strip away.
WE DEMAND BOLD AND AMBITIOUS ACTION FROM A STRONG EPA THAT HONORS THE CLEAN AIR ACT
The Trump administration unleashed an unprecedented series of climate and clean air regulatory rollbacks that have dragged us backward as a nation and threaten our right to clean air. The Biden administration must not only fix these rollbacks, but achieve a bold new approach to pollution that prioritizes public health and environmental justice.
Our top priorities in the next administration are:
- Restore science as the foundation for health-protective standards that keep our air clean;
- Fix the dozens of Trump rollbacks that threaten our air quality and make climate change worse;
- Cut pollution from cars, trucks, and buses;
- Cut pollution from the ways in which we generate our power;
- Cut methane emissions from oil and gas development, including from new and existing wells;
- Restore the proper implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the only major piece of environmental law to pass, with significant bipartisan support, and signed by President Barack Obama, in decades;
- Reopen the assessment of the brain-harming pesticide Chlorpyrifos;
- Tighten and enforce the regulation of petrochemical refineries and cracker plants, as the gas industry seeks to transition the bulk of its revenues into plastics.
All of these must be crafted within a framework of environmental justice, explicitly addressing and wiping out historic disparities in pollution exposure and health impacts.
REPAIRING THE DAMAGE IS JUST THE BEGINNING
Our communities are counting on the incoming Biden administration to repair the damage left behind by the EPA. Fixing these Trump-era rollbacks is just the beginning of building a healthy, safe, pollution-free future:
- Ozone Standards—The Trump EPA refused to strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone, or smog, despite clear scientific evidence that more stringent standards are necessary to protect Americans from asthma, lung problems, and other health issues. Smog is linked to premature deaths, thousands of emergency room visits, and tens of thousands of asthma attacks every year.
- Particle Pollution Standards—The Trump EPA refused to strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for deadly particle pollution, or soot, which causes tens of thousands of deaths per year. The decision ignores the considerable science showing grave health harms at levels below the current standards, as well as ignoring new evidence linking particle pollution to increased risk of COVID illness and death.
- Clean Air Act Cost-Benefit Analysis—Cost-benefit analysis is used by policymakers to evaluate the impacts of different policy strategies. The Trump EPA finalized arbitrary and deceptive changes to this formula for Clean Air Act protections that would falsely inflate costs, while underestimating the health benefits of pollution protections.
- Mercury and Air Toxics Standards—The Trump EPA rescinded the “appropriate and necessary” finding of the MATS rule, weakening its foundation. Mercury is a potent brain toxin for babies and children that comes from coal plants. [President Biden has signaled his commitment to fixing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in an Executive Order.]
- Clean Car Standards—The Trump administration weakened greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars, the largest source of climate pollution in the US. Trump also withdrew the longstanding authority of California and other states to set greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions standards that are more protective than EPA standards. [President Biden has signaled his commitment to strengthening greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars in an Executive Order.]
- Methane Standards—EPA lifted regulations that limit methane emissions from oil and gas operations. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is leaked and vented from well pads, compressor stations, and pipelines. Other toxins leak from oil and gas development along with methane. [President Biden has signaled his commitment to restoring methane standards for new and modified sources in an Executive Order.]
- Power Sector Standards—EPA rescinded America’s Clean Power Plan, which was the most significant climate-fighting policy on the books, replacing it with a much weaker plan that does not meaningfully address carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
- Air Toxics Loophole—The Trump-era loophole in the Clean Air Act allows large industrial facilities nationwide to avoid complying with rigorous limits on hazardous air pollutants such as benzene.