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We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

Finishing the First Term Strong: Biden’s Climate To Do List

As the president enters the last year of his first term, his administration must meet the demands of this moment and uphold its commitments made to the American people.

President Biden has, without a doubt, done more on climate than any president before him. And, as we enter the last year of his first term—his fourth quarter, so to speak, with the shot clock counting down—there are critical plays he must make to finish the job and fulfill his climate and environmental justice commitments. 

First, let’s start with the positive: President Biden has taken important strides on the bold climate agenda he ran and won on, including passing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which is ushering in the largest investments in climate and clean energy in our nation’s history. He’s expressed his commitment to support historically-burdened communities through the Justice40 Initiative. He delivered for the next generation of clean energy workers by creating the American Climate Corps, which will train and hire tens of thousands of young people for high-demand careers in climate and clean energy. And more—the administration, in its best moments, has shown that bold climate action leads to a strong working class and healthier communities. 

But the clock is ticking, and the job isn’t done yet. To meet the demands of this moment, the demands of a climate crisis that waits for no one, and the commitments the president made to the American people, his administration still has much to accomplish before the end of his first term. 

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We Must Hold President Biden Accountable to His Climate Commitments

President Biden entered office with a promise to the American people to transform our economy to one run on clean energy that would:

  • Achieve 100 percent clean, carbon-free electricity by 2035 and net-zero greenhouse gas pollution throughout the economy by 2050;
  • Build and sell more electric vehicles; and
  • Cut fossil fuels and ban new oil and gas developments on federal land.   

These commitments matter because they paint a picture of the America Americans want, need, and deserve—one based on a clean energy economy that empowers workers instead of billionaires, communities instead of oil and gas corporations. 

But those commitments have not all been met, many of the administration’s proposed standards don’t yet meet the moment, and time is running out on once-in-a-generation efforts.

President Biden can still do right by those who voted him into office, fulfill these commitments to finish his first term strong, and set the path for a successful and impactful second term. 

We’ve put together a game plan. 

 

3 Steps the Biden Administration Must Take To Cut Climate Pollution and Deliver for Communities

A thriving and just clean energy future starts with setting ambitious standards, providing funds to communities and governments to make it happen, and bringing in the whole of the federal government to seal the deal. It means standing with the climate, labor, and environmental justice movements against the fossil fuel lobby trying to hold us back. 

The president has already joined the picket line to help secure the future for ordinary people. Now, as the forces of the past try to weaken key standards, capture federal funds, and grind the transition to a halt, his team has months to stand up for all of us and realize the inspiring commitments that put Joe Biden in the White House.


 

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1. Finalize key climate regulations

Power concedes nothing without a demand, and it is time for the people who represent us to demand an end to the fossil fuels that are destabilizing the climate. That means we will need more climate action through federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, pollution standards, transmission planning and siting, and more—across all sectors of our economy—to get us all the way to the targets science demands and that frontline communities need. 

The climate investments in the IRA, if fully and effectively implemented, only get us part of the way to our pollution reduction goals. In the next few months, the administration will decide whether to strengthen proposed standards or whether to concede to the fossil fuel lobby. We need the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to follow the law and science to set truly strong standards.

Clean Power 

To get to 100 percent clean energy, we need a clean grid. Just two of the highest-impact EPA rules—when paired with IRA investments—will get us from 39 percent clean energy today to 76 percent by 2030. It’s absolutely essential—and an absolute no-brainer—for EPA to strengthen and finalize these rules. Beyond these, EPA has fallen behind on four other key rules necessary to mitigate toxic and climate-warming air pollution, and the agency needs to go further, faster to get them across the finish line by the end of term one. 

Clean Transportation 

Clean power is just one part of the story. The most polluting sector in the U.S. is transportation, and unlike power sector pollution, it’s actually growing. It’s also deeply segregated. Transportation pollution disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities. Tackling pollution by strengthening and finalizing EPA’s light-duty vehicle standards and heavy-duty vehicle standards is an opportunity the administration cannot miss—to do right by communities that have long-suffered from the lethal effects of transportation pollution, while upholding President Biden’s environmental justice commitments. 

Clean Buildings 

Buildings are the places where we live, work, and play, and spend about 90 percent of our day are also a major source of our nation’s carbon and air pollution. The administration must finalize rulemakings on water heaters, cooking products, and other sources of indoor air pollution and update household efficiency standards to make our homes, schools, and workplaces safer. 

The standards the administration sets in the next 12 months set the trajectory for decades to come. And it can set us up for critical efforts in the second term—which include a huge need to decarbonize American industry, from cement to steel to chemicals, which will need plenty of clean power.  With momentum building at the state level and a public demanding a healthier, more equitable America on a national level, it’s absolutely urgent the White House seizes this critical opportunity.

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Josie Leon, president of the Franklin Field Family Tenant Task Force in Massachusetts, describing the impacts of indoor air pollution the community experiences at EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction event in August 2023. (© 2023 Gov. Maura Healey/Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

2. Equitably and effectively align climate investments

Passing the IRA was a transformational achievement, and it was also just the start for the Biden administration. Now, it needs to put this law into action and funnel the billions of newly available dollars into supporting clean energy development, growing our clean energy workforce, empowering long-underfunded state and local governments, and prioritizing historically burdened communities that stand to benefit the most. 

Effective and equitable implementation is the key to ensuring we realize our climate goals, cut greenhouse gas pollution, advance environmental justice, and create good-paying jobs that propel the clean energy economy. 

The Biden administration has a major role to play here in the next year in making sure federal agencies, states, local communities, Tribal governments, businesses, and other partners have the technical assistance and support to not only take advantage of these funds but also use them effectively

Take, for example, tax credits. They are the beating heart of the IRA, and there’s no theoretical ceiling on how much the IRA will put toward climate and clean energy projects. That’s why it’s so important for local governments, Tribes, and states to take advantage of this unprecedented—and uncapped—influx of investments. 

Technical Assistance and Guidance for IRA Programs

To help communities access important funds that could help redistribute wealth, jobs, and opportunity to rural, underserved, and marginalized communities, federal agencies need to provide technical assistance to eligible applicants like states, local and Tribal governments, nonprofits, and rural co-ops. Technical assistance for IRA programs could help applicants get the greatest emissions reductions from funding opportunities and how to stack funds across programs.  

The administration needs to support applicants with limited capacity, provide state and local governments with guidance on effectively implementing Justice40 programs, and ensure that programs abide by strong labor and workforce standards, so that the clean energy economy is community-centered and is powered by people in good-paying jobs. 

Moreover, these funds need to go out the door—and fast. Congressional Republicans have been attempting to claw away at high-impact climate investments that communities want and need, so it’s critical funds for things like transmission grants, Empowering Rural America (New ERA) and Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE), and EPA’s Clean Ports Program get into communities’ hands quickly, and it’s on the administration to make that happen.

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With just a year left in his first term, and the public demanding even more progress, it is time for the movement and the administration to accelerate action to meet the president’s climate commitments.

    3. Strategically exercise executive authority   

    To move all this forward, we need to bring the whole of government on board. President Biden has already successfully exercised executive authority in areas where his ability to deliver new laws from a divided Congress has been stymied—and he must continue to wield this power to advance important climate action over the next year

    A key priority needs to be providing America’s industrial centers with clean power using the federal government’s vast power authorities. The biggest of these, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), could power major factories and electric vehicle and battery plants, while centering equity goals. 

    Utility Accountability 

    But right now, it’s one of the dirtiest utility providers, and it’s still building polluting gas plants and not listening to communities. The president has sole authority to appoint its board members, the primary decision-making authority, and can use his broader executive authorities to tell TVA to change course and provide lower rates, cleaner air, and more reliable power to over 10 million Americans. 

    And it doesn’t stop with TVA. Power companies like Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and rural electric cooperatives, established by the federal government, are lagging behind many U.S. utilities in replacing dirty coal and fossil gas plants with affordable renewable energy sources. More broadly, the administration must hold utility companies accountable and ensure they prioritize clean energy, as the vast majority of voters want.  

    Stop Oil and Gas Expansion

    On the campaign trail, President Biden promised to stop oil and gas leasing on public land, and yet, he authorized the disastrous Willow Project—one of the largest oil and gas developments on federal lands. Now, he must get back on track and stop the build-out of new FERC and Department of Energy (DOE) LNG projects

    This is President Biden’s fourth quarter, and he must pull out all the stops to secure the wins that empower the public and working class. That means continuing to use executive action as a key tool in his arsenal. It’s an important and necessary failsafe to push forward the climate agenda he was voted in to pass, especially when met with an obstinate, climate-denying Republican House keen on maintaining the status quo. 

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    What’s at Stake?

    The U.S. is the world’s largest cumulative carbon polluter, and half measures won’t cut it to address the real, urgent health, economic, and community impacts of the climate crisis. And it’s not just our responsibility to address climate threats and ongoing harms—it’s the issue President Biden ran and won on—and one that still remains top of mind for voters

    With just a little over a year left in President Biden’s first term, this administration must take seriously the urgency of the moment we are in and double down on the whole-of-government approach it prides itself on

    Blog Post Image - Biden/Willow

    We can and must build a clean energy economy built on a strong working class and without sacrifice zones, confront the racism that underpins much of the climate and pollution injustices still plaguing our country, and transition away from extractive industries and toward restorative, people-centered ones. 

    In order to reach his—and our country’s—climate goals, improve public health, and build a clean energy economy that will be the foundation of prosperity in America for decades to come, President Biden must pursue this ambitious whole-of-government climate agenda and prove to the American people that climate justice, economic justice, and social justice are all possible—together.

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    President Biden can still do right by those who voted him into office and fulfill his climate commitments.

    After you enter your information, you'll be redirected to the full climate roadmap we put together for President Biden.