Biden Gets to Work on Energy

Written by:

Rhoda Shapiro

After his inauguration yesterday, President Joe Biden got right to work, diving in to sign a series of executive orders, some of which will no doubt have an impact on energy.

Over a dozen executive orders were signed, three of which involved revoking a permit to the Keystone XL pipeline, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and halting current Arctic oil and gas leasing. With the new administration’s focus on combating climate change and embracing more renewable energy sources, many are wondering what this will mean for the future of energy

Here’s a quick breakdown of President Biden’s executive orders and how they might play out: 

Revoking the Keystone XL Pipeline Permit 

This is a bold move, considering how controversial this pipeline has been over the past several years. The pipeline currently is the mode of transportation for sending barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. After environmental concerns about the project, plans to expand upon the pipeline were briefly stalled by President Barack Obama in 2015. Then in 2017, President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead for the project to move forward. Given the new situation, maybe the U.S. and Canada can start working together to come up with some clean energy alternatives that will create not only a sustainable future, but many more jobs in the process. 

Rejoining the Paris Agreement 

By rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, President Biden is bringing the U.S. back to the global table by aligning to a worldwide plan to tackle climate change. Stepping back into this agreement will enable the U.S. to hone in on reducing its carbon emissions, while allowing us to unify with other countries around the world who are already doing so. Meanwhile, working with other countries to tackle these goals can potentially set up opportunities to innovate, expand upon, and create new renewable possibilities. 

Halting Arctic Oil and Gas Leasing  

With this executive action, President Biden instituted a temporary moratorium on the oil and gas leasing occurring at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Some who oppose drilling expressed happiness with the decision and look forward to seeing the Arctic environment protected, while others, like Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, expressed disappointment; Dunleavy said in a statement that he was fighting for jobs for Alaskans and that Biden was “making good on his promise to turn Alaska into a large national park.”  

Biden’s executive order to halt Arctic drilling comes after President Trump, on his last day of office, approved leases for drilling in Alaska across more than 400,000 acres. It’s uncertain whether or not Biden will ultimately succeed in stopping Arctic drilling, as a 2017 law exists that actually requires leasing in the refuge.  

Also: In an effort to create more jobs, the Biden Administration has announced a new position in the Department of Energy (DOE). Jennifer Jean Kropke has come onboard as the Director of Energy Jobs. A graduate of UCLA, Kropke has worked as an attorney and most recently as Director of Workforce and Environmental Engagement for IBEW Local Union 11. 

As President Biden has been clear on his intention to create 10 million clean energy jobs, Kropke’s addition to the DOE comes as no surprise. The new administration is also planning to invest in research and innovation, so as to create zero-carbon technologies that they believe will usher in a new wave of job opportunities. 

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