“The Exact Course Correction Our Nation Needed, And It Comes Not a Second Too Soon,” Says Waterkeeper’s Executive Director
With numerous executive orders and actions signed in the first two weeks of the Biden presidency, the leading environmental nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance is calling on the administration to carry this momentum forward to achieve a historic 100 days in advancing commitments to protecting our waterways, air, public lands, and climate.
In a memorandum sent to President Biden’s transition team prior to his inauguration, Waterkeeper Alliance released a 5-point action plan, urging the new administration to lead the way forward in rapidly responding to the climate crisis and addressing the aggressive environmental recklessness and harm caused by the previous administration. Less than a month in, President Biden has made significant progress toward meeting the priorities championed in the action plan, which was endorsed by more than 100 Waterkeeper groups across the country.
“President Biden’s swift reversal from the Trump Administration’s four years of sustained and coordinated attacks on our water, air, land, and climate is the exact course correction our nation needed, and it comes not a second too soon,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “The results of the past few weeks speak for themselves, but they also send an important signal to the world: that our nation will not stand by as climate change accelerates at a catastrophic pace. We’re grateful for the urgency President Biden is bringing to the cause of environmental protection, and we commend him for his commitment to immediately undoing the historic and appalling environmental damage of the last four years.”
To date, the Biden administration has made progress toward achieving our priorities for the first 100 days of his administration, including:
- Protecting Public Lands and Waters from Fossil Fuel Extraction: President Biden has taken executive action to pause new fossil fuel leasing on publicly owned federal lands; before the end of the administration’s first 100 days, it’s critical the President take further action to convert that pause into a ban on public lands leasing.
- Issuing a New Executive Order to Restore the Clean Water Act: President Biden has begun the process of repairing the broken definition of “waters of the United States” and replacing it with a new regulatory definition that fully restores science-based protections for our waterways. The administration has also begun to reinstate state and tribal authority and public participation rights under the CWA section 401 water quality certification process.
- Rescinding Trump’s Most Damaging Environmental Executive Orders: In less than a week, President Biden revoked the previous administration’s most egregious and damaging environmental executive orders, including executive orders that directed all federal agencies to arbitrarily repeal at least two existing regulations for each new regulation issued (EO1371); directed EPA and the Army Corps to weaken the definition of WOTUS (EO 1378); and directed EPA to reduce state and tribal authority under the Clean Water Act (EO 13868), among others.
- Prioritizing Environmental Justice: President Biden has immediately prioritized addressing the grave consequences of environmental racism by establishing a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council to develop a strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice, with an expectation that an extensive list of actions will be taken by various departments and agencies to implement that strategy.
- Restoring the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): President Biden has taken the initial steps toward restoring NEPA to its full regulatory force by ordering agencies to review the Trump NEPA rollback rule, indicating that the administration intends to repeal and replace the NEPA rollback rule with new regulations that will fully effectuate the statute’s purposes.
“There’s a long way to go in repairing the damage exacted upon our environment during the previous administration, but these are imperative first steps,” said Gloria Reuben, president of Waterkeeper Alliance. “We’re grateful for President Biden’s leadership out of the gate, and we look forward to continuing to work with his administration to ensure that climate becomes the legislative, cultural, and moral priority that our circumstances demand.”
Waterkeeper Alliance is a leading advocate for clean and healthy waterways around the world and is the largest and fastest-growing environmental nonprofit solely focused on clean water.