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Biden Issues Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad

Date: February 2, 2021

On Wednesday, January 27, President Biden issued an executive order (EO) entitled “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” The EO includes several directives related to integrating climate into national security decisions and ensuring a government-wide effort to curb greenhouse gases (GHG). The directive also emphasizes EPA’s leadership role working with other federal agencies in treating climate as not only an environmental issue but economic.

The overall EO aims to provide opportunities to create well-paying union jobs, to build a sustainable infrastructure, deliver a clean energy future, and put the U.S. on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, no later than 2050. However, there are few details on the precise scope of future agency actions, the timeline, and the process for engaging stakeholders on GHG controls.

The most noteworthy provision in the EO for motor vehicle suppliers includes directing federal agencies to develop a plan to procure clean and zero emission vehicles for federal, state, and local government fleets.

Accompanying the EO was a Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity outlining protection of scientists from political interference, outlining agency use of best available science, and steps to boost scientific advice to the government.  President Biden also signed a separate EO re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The White House issued a fact sheet on the executive orders that summarizes the directives.

Below are more specifics from the “Tackling the Climate Crisis” EO.

  • The order starts the process of developing the U.S. emission reduction target under the Paris Agreement. The order reaffirms that the President will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021 and that the U.S. will reconvene the Major Economies Forum.
  • The order will establish a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy and a National Climate Task Force chaired by the National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy. The Task Force will be comprised of leaders from 21 federal agencies and departments.
  • A plan will be developed to facilitate procurement of zero emission vehicles for federal, state, local and tribal government fleets, including vehicles of the U.S. Postal Service. These plans will aim to retain and spur creation of union jobs for running, maintaining and manufacturing the zero emission fleets.


  • Consistent with the EO “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of American by All of America’s Workers,” agencies will follow Made in American Law requirements in producing clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean energy procurement decisions. This plan will be submitted to the Task Force within 90 days of the EO.


  • A plan will be developed to facilitate procurement of carbon pollution-free electricity no later than 2035. The order also directs a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands to the extent possible, identify steps to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030, and halt fossil fuel subsidies.


  • The order aims to create jobs in construction, manufacturing, and engineering by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution. The order directs that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.


  • The order establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to prioritize environmental justice. The order directs every agency to evaluate environmental justice by directing federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.


  • Establishes the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization. The order directs federal agencies to provide and coordinate investments to assist coal, oil and natural gas, and power plant communities in economic development.
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