Among first-day actions, Biden ordering agencies to revisit vehicle emissions

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WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will order U.S. agencies on Wednesday to revisit fuel efficiency standards as well as rules governing emissions from airplanes, and appliance and building energy efficiency standards, the transition team said.

The Trump administration in March finalized a rollback of U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards to require 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026, well below the 5% yearly boosts in Obama administration rules it discarded.

The Trump administration said the rollback would result in about 2 billion additional barrels of oil being consumed over and at least 867 million metric tons of carbon dioxide being emitted over the life of the vehicles.

During the campaign, Biden vowed to “establish ambitious fuel economy standards” and to negotiate them with workers, environmentalists, automakers and states.

Biden is also directing agencies to reconsider Trump’s 2019 decision to revoke California’s authority to set its own auto tailpipe emissions standards and require a rising number of zero-emission vehicles.

Automakers have pledged to work with Biden on new rules to reduce emissions, but are split over a legal challenge to Trump’s effort to bar California from setting emissions rules.

Biden has made boosting electric vehicles a top priority and pledged to spend billions of dollars to add 550,000 charging stations for such vehicles. He also supports new tax credits for purchases of electric vehicles and retrofitting factories for their production.

Biden is also directing the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider new greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes published last week that were roundly criticized by environmental groups and a dozen states who noted they would result in no greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Those airplanes account for 10% of all U.S. transportation greenhouse gas emissions and 3% of total U.S. emissions.

Here is a list of what to expect, according to interviews with Biden’s advisers, in other Day One executive actions:

COVID-19

* Seek a $1.9 trillion spending proposal aimed at accelerating the distribution of coronavirus vaccines while providing economic relief to millions of Americans hurt by the pandemic.

* Impose a mask-wearing requirement on all federal property, planes and buses.

* Extend relief on federal student loan payments and extend an eviction moratorium.

* Sign an executive order that helps schools and businesses reopen safely, expands coronavirus testing and establishes clearer public health standards.

* Direct federal agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt of the crisis, including by extending a moratorium on evictions.

* Return the United States to the World Health Organization. Trump withdrew from the agency, saying it failed to properly oversee the COVID-19 pandemic.

Climate

* Bring the United States back into the Paris Climate Agreement, the global pact forged five years ago among nearly 200 nations to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Trump vowed in 2016 to pull the United States out of the agreement, making good on that promise in November 2020.

* Issue a sweeping executive order on the climate crisis that will ask all federal agencies to review Trump policies and address those harmful to health or damaging to the environment.

* Reimpose methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations repealed by Trump.

* Using the federal government procurement system – which spends $500 billion every year – to make facilities more reliant on clean energy and purchase zero-emissions vehicles.

* Ban new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

* Cancel the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the United States.

Immigration

* Repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries.

* Send to Congress a sweeping immigration bill that could legalize millions of immigrants living in the United States without legal permission.

* Reinstate the program allowing “Dreamers,” people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, to remain in the country.

* Reverse Trump’s policy that separated immigrant parents from their children at the border, including ending the prosecution of parents for minor immigration violations, and prioritize the reunification of any children still separated from their families.

* Reverse Trump’s more restrictive asylum policies, such as imposing additional restrictions on anyone traveling through Mexico or Guatemala and attempting to prevent victims of gang and domestic violence from receiving asylum.

* End Trump’s National Emergency declaration that allowed him to shift federal funds from the Department of Defense to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

* Order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries severely affected by violence or disaster.

Other

* Ask all U.S. agencies to create an action plan to address racial inequality.

* Order every administration appointee to sign an ethics pledge to ensure that officials act in the interests of the American people and not for personal gain.

* Issue an executive order to make sure federal anti-discrimination statutes prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

 



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Saurabh Shukla

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