• Broad range of combustion industry implications from early actions of Biden presidency

    Date posted:

    • Post Author

      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

US President Joe Biden has been busy in the opening days of his term, with a raft of his early actions being relevant to the combustion industry.

  • Of most international significance, Mr Biden signed an executive order to have the United States of America rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, after the country only formally left the pact on 4 November last year, after a long process of withdrawal. While the move in the short term is largely symbolic, over the medium to long term it is likely to have some effect in encouraging other nations to adopt more ambitious emissions reductions targets, especially after the USA formally resets its own domestic targets. The move has been welcomed internationally.
  • Mr Biden has revoked a permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which former president Donald Trump had approved by executive order in one of his own first acts (and which his predecessor Barack Obama had blocked through an executive order in November 2015). Keystone XL was to run from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, hugely increasing the capacity for oil transport between the two countries. Canadian officials had pleaded to be given “time to make their case for the 1,200-mile pipeline” which had “dramatically changed for the better, environmentally, since it was first proposed in 2008,” according to the Politico website. The pipeline’s cross-border connection has already been built, and pipeline owners TC Energy may take the US government to court over the matter, though this is considered unlikely. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement last week that his government welcomes “the President’s commitment to fight climate change,” and though disappointed about the decision to revoke the permit, “acknowledges the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL”.
  • A new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency has been proposed. Michael Regan has previously worked for the agency, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. His appointment is likely to herald stricter regulation in the power sector, particularly in relation to fossil fuels.
  • Mr Biden has also used an executive order on what he described as “climate day” to place a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal public lands, in line with his campaign promise to ban new leases permanently. This, the BBC notes, may not have an enormous impact on the shale oil and gas industry, as only half of the extraction licences approved between 2014 and 2019 have yet been utilised, and could still be made use of.

Also on “climate day”, Mr Biden established a White House office of domestic climate policy and scheduled a summit of leaders to be held in April, on Earth Day.