Biden Considers Declaring Climate Emergency After Manchin Frustrates Climate Agenda

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U.S. President Joe Biden reacts during a meeting on "the Build Back Better World,” as part of the World Leaders' Summit of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 2, 2021. Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images
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President Joe Biden is considering declaring a national climate emergency after his climate agenda was frustrated when talks with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III collapsed last week, reported The Washington Post. Manchin told Democratic leaders he wouldn’t support the president’s economic package that included billions of dollars to tackle the climate crisis.

The declaration could come as early as this week, according to sources close to the matter.

Invoking a climate emergency could enable Biden to take steps to promote cleaner energy and reduce carbon emissions.

The president intends to travel to Somerset, Massachusetts, Wednesday to give a speech addressing climate change.

“The president made clear that if the Senate doesn’t act to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, he will,” said a White House official, who requested anonymity, as The Washington Post reported.

Top presidential aides have been debating the best course to take as states in the central U.S. are battered by another heat wave.

“It is time for the Biden administration to pivot to a very aggressive climate strategy,” said Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, as reported by Reuters.

Just what Biden’s next steps would be if he declares a climate emergency remain unclear, but climate activists have said the move would allow the president to restrict oil and gas drilling in federally controlled waters, stop oil exports and instruct federal agencies to increase the use of renewable energy, The Washington Post reported.

“We need to take whatever measures we can to accelerate all the work that we’re doing to make sure that we can address the climate emergency crisis that the world is facing,” said special presidential coordinator for international energy affairs Amos Hochstein, as reported by CNN.

Putting new climate policies into practice could help with Biden’s goal of cutting U.S. emissions in half as compared to 2005 levels by 2030, but they would not be enough to match the goals of his original Build Back Better plan, noted The Washington Post.

“If (the President) can’t find a legislative path to clean energy, the urgency of the problem is so significant that, as he said on Friday, he will find an executive order and rule change path to get there,” economic adviser and senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Jared Bernstein told CNN.

An executive order on climate action could be challenged in court, The Washington Post reported.

Last month the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions by power plants was restricted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is an important moment. There is probably nothing more important for our nation and our world than for the United States to drive a bold, energetic transition in its energy economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” Merkley said yesterday, as reported by The Washington Post. “This also unchains the president from waiting for Congress to act.”

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