Press Releases

Biden Executive Orders Reverse Environmental Harms, Help AdirondacksĀ 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

On January 20, President Joseph Biden issued a series of executive orders designed to undo the anti-environmental agenda of the Trump administration. Many of these changes will benefit the Adirondack Park, Upstate New York, and the Northeast.   

“We are extremely pleased to see these important policy reversals happening on Day One of the Biden administration,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “It gives us great hope that we can make real progress as a nation on issues such as climate change, smog, and acid rain, all of which harm the Adirondack Park and its communities. Reversing executive orders is an important step since it leads to immediate action. In some cases, however, orders will have to be followed up with legislation to ensure the next President doesn’t undo them. We urge the President to act quickly, while he has a cooperative majority in both houses of Congress.” 

In addition, Biden appointed former EPA Administrator (2013-17) Gina McCarthy to be the nation’s first White House National Climate Advisor. 

Here is a summary of President Biden’s executive actions that will benefit the communities, forests, wildlife, and water quality of the Adirondack Park, as listed by the White House: 

General objectives: 

“Listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments; and to prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals.”  

First act:

“All executive departments and agencies shall immediately review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of Federal regulations and other actions during the last 4 years that conflict with these important national objectives, and to immediately commence work to confront the climate crisis.” 

The Executive Orders will: 

  • Reduce Methane Emissions in the oil and gas industries – methane is a potent greenhouse gas.
  • Eliminate Trump rollback of automobile fuel efficiency standards – cars cause smog and acid rain in the Northeast.
  • Re-establish appliance- and building-efficiency standards – both save fuel and prevent air pollution.
  • Establish national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants, which include acid rain and smog.
  • Reconsider Trump administration ruling barring the EPA from considering significant side-benefits when assessing whether the costs of new pollution regulations are “reasonable.” 
  • Establish new standards for volatile organic compounds emitted by the oil and gas industry.
  • Create a federal smog-control plan to replace bogus implementation plans filed by individual states and accepted by the Trump administration.  

Other environmental efforts: 

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – suspends all activities of the federal government relating to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program.  The Adirondack Park shares a variety of migratory birds with the Arctic refuge. 

Accounting for the Benefits of Reducing Climate Pollution – establish standards for judging the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), “social cost of nitrous oxide” (SCN), and “social cost of methane” (SCM), or estimates of the monetized damages associated with incremental increases in greenhouse gas emissions, smog, and acid rain.   

Revoking the March 2019 Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline - completion of the pipeline would lead to a more deadly level of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.   

Restoring National Monuments – federal agencies will reconsider Trump’s order to reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. 

Other Revocations:

Pollution Reporting – Biden revoked a loosening of air pollution-reporting rules for power plants and others that had been slackened by Trump during the COVID-19 respiratory pandemic.   

Waters of the United States – revokes a Trump ruling limiting water quality protections for smaller streams and wetlands.  This rule change never applied inside the Adirondack Park because state law here is stricter than federal rules, but will help to protect waters and wetlands everywhere outside of the park. 

Full list of Jan. 20 public health and environment executive orders: Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis | The White House



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