Earthworks Agenda for the Biden Administration

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The First 100 Days Agenda

1. Reinstate Our Bedrock Public Health and Environmental Protections

Over the course of his presidency, Trump erased or weakened dozens of regulations designed to promote equity and protect communities, water, air, and sacred sites. The Biden administration must reinstate the environmental protections that Trump dismantled, including pausing midnight regulations.

2. Restore America’s Leadership on Climate

After four years of the Trump administration’s climate change denial and contempt for international cooperation, it’s essential not only that the Biden administration rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, but also take active global leadership in order to avert climate catastrophe.

3. Transition from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy

The Biden administration must hasten the transition away from fossil fuels and toward more just and equitable energy policies. The rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline must be only the beginning of stopping the expansion of oil and gas facilities that sacrifice frontline communities and disproportionately impact historically marginalized people.

4. Declare a Climate Emergency

The planet faces an indisputable climate crisis. Declaring a climate emergency conveys the urgency of the climate crisis and unlocks specific statutory emergency powers to help accomplish the necessary just, equitable, and fair response—including powers to reinstate the crude oil export ban and promote rapid clean energy development.

5. Protect Our Public Lands

The Trump administration prioritized industrial development of public lands in Alaska and approved plans for a private mining road through Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. The Biden administration must issue an immediate moratorium on oil and gas leasing on all public lands and overturn those Trump administration’s plans.

6. Impose New Methane Pollution Standards

The Trump administration relentlessly attacked two critical Obama-era measures from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management which restricted methane pollution, an especially potent contributor to the climate crisis. We’re encouraging the Biden administration to not just restore but strengthen both measures and use the Clean Air Act to the fullest extent in order to cut oil and gas methane pollution by 65% by 2025.

7. Advance Mining Reforms

The 1872 Mining Law lingers still from white colonization of Indigenous resources. It allows mining companies to inflict severe harm on our land, wildlife, sacred sites, and communities. The Biden administration can issue new rules under existing laws to keep mining pollution in check, restore equity, and empower land managers to deny mines on public lands.

8. Protect Bristol Bay

Earthworks helped stop the proposed gold and copper Pebble Mine from moving forward by pressuring Morgan Stanley and other investors to back away from the massively destructive project. The Army Corps of Engineers denied the mine a permit after our expert shared an analysis of the inadequacy of the mining company’s mitigation plan. The Biden administration should now use the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay from mining and permanently protect the salmon fishery and the communities who depend on it.

9. Restore the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

President Trump promulgated new rules under NEPA that would further environmental injustice by reducing public participation in our government’s decisions. The Biden administration can reverse these changes to strengthen scientific and environmental reviews.

The Four Year Agenda

These are additional project-specific actions, as well as more complex policy shifts, that Earthworks will advocate for over the next four years.

  • Deny the Oak Flat mine on sacred San Carlos Apache land in Arizona in addition to other ill-advised mine proposals on public lands.
  • Revoke permits and deny oil and gas pipelines and infrastructure permits.
  • Take executive actions to encourage a sustainable minerals economy, encourage reuse and recycling of key minerals, and discourage new public lands mining.
  • Enact new regulations to require financial assurance for hardrock mines under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund.
  • Issue a moratorium or ban on permitting oil and gas wells on public lands.
  • Restore Clean Water Act Section 401 permitting authority, making it easier to deny permits to cross streams and wetlands.
  • Revise the definition of “Waters of the United States” to protect ephemeral streams and isolated wetlands.
  • Establish a more stringent ozone standard of 60 – 65 parts per billion (ppb).
  • Create a Just Transition Task Force.
  • Reinstate the crude oil export ban.
  • Make changes to the way oil, gas, and mining wastes are treated in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, our nation’s hazardous waste law.
  • Create strong standards for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that make it more difficult to use this technology on public lands.
  • Require climate risk reporting in financial regulations.