Whiplash . . . End of an Error!

Al Braden for Austin Sierra Club News 01-30-21

Image from:  whitehouse.gov

What a month!

Wednesday, January 6thU.S. Capitol trashed by gun-toting mob incited by Trump and also fired up in speeches by Texas own Senator Cruz and Attorney General Paxton. Even after this attack that put both the Senators and Representatives at grave personal risk, seven Senators  including Cruz and 138 Representatives voted to challenge electors in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Even though Biden won by 7,060,401 votes and earned 306 electoral votes the Republican ‘stolen election’ echoes on.

Wednesday, January 13th – Nation glued to TV as Trump is cited for inciting insurrection for a record second impeachment. Now Trump’s #1!

Wednesday, January 20th – The factually elected president, Joe Biden was sworn in on the same Capitol steps. Amazing songs were sung, poems read, unity called for. Bernie sat with mittens to keep warm. Trump flew quietly out of town. Six days later, a Fredericksburg Republican filed House Bill 1359 in the Texas House to create a referendum on succession from the United States. Treason continues in this red state frenzy without pushback by fellow Republicans.

Wednesday, January 27th – President Biden completed eight days in office with a blitz of Executive Orders, Cabinet and key staff appointments, and actual informative press conferences with real people. Papers flew from the Oval Office to right the wrongs of Trump Inc.

Wow!

Stop and catch a breath.

President Biden is on a tear repairing all that has been shredded in the past four years. He’s got a running start since he actually knows how the U.S. Government works – and has selected Cabinet Secretaries and key advisors who do also.

On Day 1 – as promised – President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement.

Image from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/20/paris-climate-agreement/

But, as we’ll see, his greater focus is on making the whole of government – all departments – accountable for pushing the climate and environmental justice goals forward in every facet of U.S. policy.

I won’t paraphrase all the great reporting on all of Biden’s Executive Orders overturning Trump’s executive orders. Here are two excellent summaries.

The New York Times researched 112 rollbacks of environmental regulations by Trump.

EcoWatch has an excellent summary of President Biden’s efforts already to turn these around.

On Day 1, President Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and  Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis eliminated Trump’s rollbacks on methane emissions, auto fuel efficiency standards, appliance and building efficiency standards, air pollution from fossil fuel plants, restoring National Monuments and the Arctic Refuge and accounting for the real costs of climate pollution by creating social costs for carbon, nitrous oxide and methane. Oh, yes, he also shut down the Keystone XL Pipeline and stopped or paused a whole host of other Trump rollbacks.

On January 27, the most sweeping order was signed on climate change, climate risk, environmental justice and job creation through energy transition and accountability at the heart of all government departments – with specific instructions to key departments. It created interdepartmental climate working groups across the nation – chaired by the new National Climate Advisor, Gina McCarthy.

Read through this directive to see President Biden’s effort to make climate a priority nationally and internationally. A White House press conference introduced Gina McCarthy as the inside leader and John Kerry as the Presidential Envoy for Climate, focusing on international climate efforts.

It’s all quite breathtaking and truly can mark the ‘End of the Error’ of Trump.

But I say ‘can’ because there is still so much work to do. The very reason that President Biden can sweep all Trump’s Executive Orders away is that they are just that:  Executive Orders.

Halting the worst of climate change requires these policies to be given real force. They actually must be written into law and passed by Congress. They must become defensible both in the Courts of law and the court of public opinion at the ballot box. We must have real Congressional action in the next two years – stalemate is not acceptable. With or without bipartisan support, it has to go forward.

And to carry on this work, it is critical to hold – and gain – in the Senate and House in 2022. We can’t have a mid-term wipeout. Importantly the 2022 U.S. Senate map has 20 Republican seats up for election compared to only 14 Democrats. The bittersweet fact is that the several competent, reasonable Republican Senators have already announced their retirement – making their seats more competitive for Democrats but also opening room for more crazies. Then there’s Texas. . .

We’ve got to identify and groom a fresh generation of national leaders to carry forward. It’s going to be a wild ride! Then in 2024 . . .

All hands on deck!