- Trends in Energy
- Practically Speaking
This Week's Trend In Brief:
In the wake of extreme weather events in Hawaii and California, and with extreme heat across swaths of the U.S. and the world, climate activists have rekindled their demands for President Biden to declare a climate emergency.
Biden insists he “practically” declared a climate emergency, but activists aren’t satisfied, so expect the pressure to keep rising on the President to declare an actual climate emergency.
Such a declaration could have broad impacts across the energy value chain, because, as we detailed last year, activists contend it is the skeleton key to unlocking broad new authorities for the President, including:
Halting crude oil exports;
Suspending the operations of offshore leases;
Restricting international trade and private investment in fossil fuels;
Compelling domestic manufacturing to speed the transition away from fossil fuels;
Building distributed renewable energy systems in climate-vulnerable communities, and;
Unlocking more flexibility to reallocate funds towards building renewable energy.
As the 2024 campaign heats up, the pressure on Biden is coming from a key constituency he needs to turn out next November. That makes further executive action on climate policy likely, whether or not that includes an official emergency declaration. Industry public affairs professionals need to prepare now for how that could impact their interests.
Last summer, activists and Democrats on Capitol Hill pushed President Biden to declare a climate emergency, and despite the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, such demands have only increased following this summer’s extreme weather. In July 2022, we detailed why climate activists and Congressional Democrats on Capitol Hill wanted President Biden to declare a climate emergency. While passage of the Inflation Reduction Act satisfied some, other activists continued to urge the President to make such a declaration even as much of the urgency dissipated. This summer’s extreme weather events, including the wildfire in Hawaii, Hurricane Hilary in the Western U.S., and record heat across the U.S. and globally, has President Biden facing increased calls to declare a climate emergency from activists and policymakers.
While President Biden claims the IRA “practically” made such a declaration, climate advocates on and off Capitol Hill are not convinced. Asked about making an emergency declaration in a Weather Channel interview, President Biden contended his administration had “already done that … Practically speaking, yes.” Progressives and climate activists are not buying that response and have upped their pressure on the President to declare a formal climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act. As we noted last year, activist believe this formal declaration is the “skeleton key” to unlocking broad authorities for the President, including halting crude oil exports, suspending the operations of offshore leases, restricting international trade and private investment in fossil fuels, compelling domestic manufacturing to speed the transition away from fossil fuels, building distributed renewable energy systems in climate-vulnerable communities, and unlocking more flexibility to reallocate funds towards building renewable energy.
As the 2024 presidential campaign heats up, President Biden will need to fire up his environmentally focused base to get out the vote next November, meaning industry public affairs professionals should anticipate further climate executive action, including an official emergency declaration. Reports have suggested that during the on-again off-again negotiations over the Inflation Reduction Act, “White House officials considered a big gesture to show President Joe Biden’s dedication to curbing emissions: the declaration of a national climate emergency.” Now, as Biden seeks to ensure the support and enthusiasm of environmental voters, who are increasingly skeptical of his job on climate, another “big gesture” could be possible. Even if that “big gesture” falls short of a formal emergency declaration, the President could take further executive action on a range of issues pertinent to the energy industry including restricting leasing for energy projects, finalizing action at the SEC regarding climate disclosures, new regulations regarding Clean Water Act section 401 and NEPA (both of which can impact traditional and clean energy projects and their shared need for transmission,) and a variety of other regulations targeting natural gas appliances, methane emissions, and protecting public lands.
Regardless of whether or not the President ultimately declares a climate emergency, the debate will help shape the 2024 election and the policy debate, and industry public affairs professionals cannot wait to prepare for how the campaign politics could shape policy. As activists demand Biden go further and faster, the politics surrounding the emergency declaration are already influencing the 2024 campaign. As we noted last July, “politics can become policy if not counteracted, so the energy industry must act quickly to prevent the politics of a climate emergency from overcoming any remaining common sense in the Democrats’ climate agenda.” Doing so means understanding the full landscape of stakeholders influencing and shaping the campaign season so you can act before the campaign debate’s policy direction is set.
Trends in Energy is your weekly look at key trends affecting the energy industry, brought to you by the competitive intelligence experts at Delve. As the political and regulatory landscape continues to shift, reach out to learn how our insights can help you navigate these challenges.