Biden signs executive order to make federal government carbon neutral by 2050: NPR

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It seems that US lawmakers agree on one thing, spending a lot of money on the military – some $ 768 billion. The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, passed last night and heads to the Senate. We now join Connor O’Brien, a defense reporter for Politico. Welcome to the program.

NPR’s Jeff Brady will have more. Jeff, my apologies. So I want to talk to you about President Biden’s climate decree. What’s inside ?

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Well, President Biden wants the federal government to use its $ 650 billion annual purchasing power to focus on cleaner sources of energy, ones that don’t emit greenhouse gases. greenhouse that modify the climate. And a lot of work is needed to get there. The government owns 300,000 buildings and 600,000 cars and trucks, with the goal of zero-emission vehicles in just over a decade. Part of the goal is to revive the booming electric car industry in the United States. to companies that produce wind, solar, hydraulic and nuclear energy.

CORNISH: Is this decree due to the president struggling with a legislative package on this issue?

BRADY: Well, I think maybe it’s a bit of that, but it’s not directly connected. This builds on an earlier order signed by President Biden – which President Biden signed immediately after taking office. But that adds more detail. This big budget reconciliation package that the House passed last week includes part of the president’s climate agenda. The administration originally planned a very ambitious spending bill that would put the country on track to meet its obligations under the Paris climate agreement, but which encountered a opposition even within the president’s party, including Senator Joe Manchin, who represents the coal state of West Virginia. This executive order certainly cannot compensate for this weakened legislation, as it only applies to the federal government. But that’s what the president can accomplish now, and he certainly wants to be seen as making progress on climate change.

CORNISH: How can that be effective against a law?

BRADY: Yeah, there are limits to an executive order. The administration might need more money to do this. Congress should allocate this. And then another president could just come and cancel those orders. In fact, this order is based on a former President Obama signed during his administration. Then President Trump revoked it and issued an order to focus on cutting costs instead. Now President Biden is reversing that reversal and issuing this climate-driven order that is even stronger than what Obama originally called for.

CORNISH: Realistically, how many of these – changes in these orders, how much can this administration accomplish before a potential change in administration?

BRADY: It would all be a tough task, for sure, but there are specific examples. The Home Office plans to transfer its fleet of around 100 motorcycles that the US Parks Police use. They appear to be on track to do so mainly before the end of Biden’s first term. But, you know, what’s really important here is that by setting deadlines for agencies to meet these goals, they aim to start these transitions now. So even if a future president overturns the decree, there is still a lot that has already been done.

CORNISH: This is Jeff Brady from the NPR Climate Team. Thanks, Jeff.

BRADY: Thanks, Audie.

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