President Biden's Climate Progress Report: Year 1

President Biden promised to pursue ambitious climate goals and to challenge the power of the fossil fuel industry. Can he accomplish what science and justice demand?

Published: January 27, 2022


President Biden’s first year in office resulted in some victories for our communities and the climate, but there is work that remains unfinished and most initiatives lack the ambition to meet the demands of science and justice. Widely popular policies, like investments in clean energy and protections for vulnerable ecosystems, could become a reality if Congress passes the Build Back Better Act (BBB) without allowing fossil fuel interests to weaken it any further. The Act remains the biggest opportunity for President Biden and Congress to secure key climate policies. Unfortunately, the Act is currently stalled in the Senate.

The combined Build Back Better Act – if passed in its current state – and bipartisan infrastructure packages contain more than $600 billion in proposed climate investments as well as removal of some taxpayer-funded international fossil fuel subsidies. These are necessary steps to set the U.S. on a path to fulfill its climate commitments. However, neither bill does enough to address the out of control fossil fuel industry that continues to pollute our communities and drive us towards climate catastrophe. Key tools in phasing out fossil fuels such as eliminating the $15 billion in taxpayer-funded domestic subsidies that go to fossil fuel companies every year and establishing a Clean Energy Standard are notably absent from both bills. 

It is true that President Biden’s climate plan is more ambitious than any other president. Enacting that plan is where he is falling short. We are not on track to meet the global climate goal of limiting warming to under 1.5 degrees C that science says will prevent the worst effects of climate change. President Biden has delivered on only a few promises to communities that have suffered the most from fossil fuel pollution and exploitation.

The current gridlock in Congress has proven to be a major hurdle for President Biden to enact his climate plan, but he needs to do better at using every option available to him to close the gap between what current policies can achieve and what our communities need. So far, President Biden has been unwilling to use his executive powers to declare a climate emergency, which would allow him to reinstate the crude oil export ban and halt federal fossil fuel leasing on public lands.


Greenpeace USA graded President Biden on his administration’s progress toward phasing out fossil fuels and enacting a Green New Deal. In 2020, Greenpeace USA graded then-candidate Biden on his campaign promises. The campaign promises and official climate platform put forth by candidate Biden earned a final score of 75.5 out of 100 points. Now that he is in office, the climate movement must hold President Biden to his campaign promises while inspiring him to go above and beyond those promises to meet the needs of our communities and do what science demands. 

This progress report measures President Biden’s steps toward full implementation, as described below, with weighted criteria used to evaluate his campaign commitments. After his first 100 days in office, we graded President Biden to track his progress (he scored 30/100 then). We are now updating it after his first year in office and his score has increased to 36/100. Take a look at Biden’s score breakdown over time here.

The final score for this progress report update does NOT account for policies included in the draft Build Back Better Act, which is stalled in Congress at the time of publishing. Should that Act pass in its current form and be signed into law, President Biden’s total score could increase to a total of 42.5 / 100. We also highlight some key climate policies that were cut from the Build Back Better Act to emphasize the areas where President Biden will need to make up the gap with big, bold regulatory action in his second year.

Progress Toward Action Key

  • No action: No public statements or proposals
  • Words only: Public statements or proposals related to topic, but not yet fully enacted
  • Some policy progress: policies enacted, but do not yet meet President Biden’s campaign promise
  • Campaign promise met: Campaign Promise has been enacted, even if not as strong as the “gold standard” policy
  • Gold Standard: Campaign Promise or better enacted that meets “gold standard” criteria
People Vs. Oil


Phasing Out Fossil Fuels: 14/50

Say #NoToFossilFuels by enacting policies to halt oil, gas, and coal expansion, phase out existing fossil fuel infrastructure, and center fossil fuel workers and climate-impacted communities in the transition to a renewable energy economy.

Has President Biden initiated a managed phase out of domestic fossil fuel production, both federal and non-federal, before 2050?

The U.S. must phase out fossil fuel production as quickly as possible to meet global climate targets. During the campaign, Joe Biden offered some rhetoric in support of phasing out fossil fuel production. Kamala Harris went even further, proposing an international agreement to address fossil fuel production. However, the Biden-Harris Administration has not yet implemented policies to phase out fossil fuel production.

Has President Biden enacted policies to support workers and communities that are economically dependent on the fossil fuel industry during the transition to a 100 percent renewable energy future, ensuring that nobody is left behind?

President Biden’s January 27th “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” (Climate EO) identifies the need for federal leadership to “foster economic revitalization of and investment in” energy communities. The Climate EO mentions the importance of creating jobs reducing emissions from abandoned wells and mines, and creates an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization. The Working Group has presented an initial report, but no policies have been implemented yet. 

The passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, commonly referred to as the bipartisan infrastructure bill) allocated nearly $5 billion to “clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells,” which the White House claims would create “good-paying, union jobs.” The bill also allocates $10 billion to clean up toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS in many communities with a history of fossil fuel extraction, and $11.3 billion to remediate abandoned coal mine sites across the country. 

If passed, the Build Back Better Act would allocate $15 billion (originally $30 billion) to create a Civilian Climate Corps with 300,000 good-paying green jobs over the next ten years. However, President Biden has still not fully met his campaign promise to fulfill “our obligation to all workers impacted by the energy transition” including support for pensions, benefits, and job training.

Has President Biden ended new fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters?

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order implemented a temporary pause on “new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending completion of a comprehensive review.” However, this temporary policy was paused by a court ruling, and since then the Biden administration has resumed holding lease sales. It is expected that the still-unreleased review by the Department of the Interior (DOI) will outline new policies to address fossil fuel production on public lands, but the scope of those policies is unknown. On Nov. 17, 2021, the Biden administration offered more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for lease to oil and gas companies. This represented the biggest oil and gas lease sale ever offered. The Biden administration approved more oil and gas drilling permits on public lands per month than the Trump admin did during Trump’s first 3 years in office, according to a new Public Citizen analysis. The Bureau of Land Management has scheduled several onshore auctions for the first quarter of 2022.  

While there is still much uncertainty around the Build Back Better Act, the version that the House passed would protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling, eliminate non-competitive leasing, raise the minimum onshore oil and gas minimum bid, and permanently ban offshore oil and gas leasing along the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Full credit would be awarded for a permanent and comprehensive halt to coal, oil, and gas leasing and production on federal lands and waters. Partial credit for calling a halt to just some federal leasing. Zero credit for actively boosting any federal leasing.

Has President Biden eliminated federal fossil fuel subsidies?

The Biden-Harris administration has supported ending some fossil fuel subsidies. President Biden’s Climate Executive Order instructs the government to “take steps to ensure that, to the extent consistent with applicable law, federal funding is not directly subsidizing fossil fuels.” The administration’s Made in America Tax Plan requested Congress remove $121 billion in fossil fuel subsidies over 10 years, including $86 billion in tax breaks for foreign oil and gas income. The tax plan alone is not enough to address the full spectrum of subsidies the fossil fuel industry enjoys. 

The Biden administration declined to endorse the most comprehensive approach to ending $150 billion in fossil fuel subsidies as outlined in the End Polluter Welfare Act.

The current version of the Build Back Better Act does not include the removal of domestic fossil fuel subsidies including the most egregious example: the intangible drilling tax credit. The bill even expands carbon capture and other subsidies that benefit dirty energy companies. However, the bill does remove some taxpayer-funded international subsidies, and it remains to be seen whether subsidy removal will be added to the Senate version of the bill.

In the Climate Executive Order, President Biden says he will direct a comprehensive review of all federal agencies to identify any fossil fuels subsidies and release a report. However, the Biden administration has not completed the interagency review of fossil fuel subsidies that was promised.

On April 22, 2021, President Biden instructed agencies to “seek to end international investments in and support for carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based energy projects,” and at COP26, joined a group of 20 nations pledging to end “new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector.” 

Ending international subsidies and public finance for fossil fuels are important steps, but removing domestic production subsidies are critical for shifting high impact tax incentives away from fossil fuel companies. Full credit would be awarded for brokering a deal with Congress to eliminate all domestic and international fossil fuel subsidies.

Has President Biden banned exports of crude oil, coal, and liquified natural gas (LNG)?

The Biden-Harris Administration has not taken any action so far to halt crude oil, coal, or liquified natural gas exports, as a coalition of climate, environmental justice, and public health groups are demanding.

Full credit would be awarded for a ban on exports of all types of fossil fuels, and partial credit for a ban on only some types (e.g., crude oil).

Has President Biden denied all federal permits for fossil fuel projects that would increase climate pollution?

President Biden revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, but has not yet taken further action to halt federal permits for other tar sands, oil, and fracked gas pipelines as well as other fossil fuel infrastructure permits that would exacerbate the climate crisis. President Biden’s Climate Executive Order aims to “ensure that Federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution, and to require that Federal permitting decisions consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change” but remains unclear what this will mean in practice. President Biden’s “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” also mandates that agencies “capture the full costs of greenhouse gas emissions as accurately as possible” by updating and using the social cost of carbon (SCC), which could be one step toward fully accounting for the climate costs of polluting infrastructure. 

Full credit would be awarded for implementing a “climate test” policy across all agencies that not only measures the climate impact of federal permits but rejects projects that worsen climate change. Partial credit for opposing some fossil fuel infrastructure on climate grounds.

Has President Biden held fossil fuel polluters accountable for the costs of climate disaster?

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order states, “We must hold polluters accountable for their actions,” but to date the Biden-Harris administration has not taken concrete action to do so. 

Has President Biden upheld Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination, free, prior, and informed consent (e.g., for fossil fuel projects on Indigenous territories), and other rights as laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

During his first week, President Biden released a “Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships” that mandates each agency develop a plan for nation-to-nation consultation. This memo mostly returns Federal practices with respect to Tribes to Obama-era precedents.

In December 2021, 17 federal agencies signed a memorandum of understanding committing to increased consultation and collaboration with Tribal Nations and pledging to incorporate traditional knowledge into government assessments. President Biden described the memo as making “substantial changes in Indian Country” and experts described the memo as potentially relevant to some litigation. Neither document institutes Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. President Biden has not spoken publicly about supporting the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Has President Biden combatted the racial, economic, and environmental injustices that have led working families and people of color to bear the brunt of fossil fuel and toxic pollution? Has he worked to foster healthy, sustainable, and regenerative communities?

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order mandates the creation of a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, which is charged with developing a “strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice.” The EO also tasks the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) with creating an equity mapping tool, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) with tightening enforcement of violations with disproportionate impact, and Health and Human Services (HHS) with developing a focus on health equity. The EO also kicked off the administration’s “Justice40 Initiative,” which is tasked with a goal of “delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities.” Environmental justice activists are urging the administration to develop clear quantitative measurements to prove that 40 percent of the benefits are actually going to frontline communities.

The version of the Build Back Better Act that is still being debated includes over 50 environmental justice provisions, including $5 billion in block grants for community-led projects, $2.6 billion to reduce air pollution at ports, $9 billion (along with $15 billion in the infrastructure bill) for lead remediation, 40 percent set-aside investments from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and funds to develop THRIVE criteria for investment in disadvantaged communities.

Has President Biden nominated, appointed, and hired administration officials who are free from the influence of fossil fuel corporations, executives, and lobbyists?

President Biden appointed a Cabinet free from overt fossil fuel influence and implemented a White House Ethics Pledge with strong revolving door provisions. Despite these pledges, there are members of the administration with significant financial investments and career ties to fossil fuel corporations.

Advancing a Green New Deal: 22 / 50

Champion a Green New Deal by mobilizing our economy toward 100% renewable energy for all, creating millions of family-sustaining jobs, and securing a better future for communities that have borne the brunt of fossil fuel industry exploitation.

Has President Biden supported the Green New Deal (GND), as proposed by Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, or the THRIVE Agenda, which calls for a GND-style economic recovery?

President Biden has not publicly supported nor enacted the GND Resolution or THRIVE Agenda. However, the original Build Back Better Framework and the version of the bill that has passed the House, do capture the spirit of the original GND. Should the Build Back Better Act pass Congress it would be a step toward making this vision a reality.

Has President Biden required net-zero U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions earlier than 2050?

We must reach net-zero GHG emissions globally by 2050 to have a chance at limiting warming to below 1.5°C. The U.S. has the capacity — and global responsibility — to reach net-zero emissions sooner. Partial credit for supporting net-zero by 2050. Zero credit for not committing to net-zero, setting a timeline later than 2050, or for relying on the use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), offsets, or other false energy solutions.

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order notes the promise of solutions to “put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050,” but stops short of formally pledging this as a target. On April 22, 2021, President Biden announced a new nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement that affirms the administration’s goal of “reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050.”

Together, the infrastructure bill and the latest version of the Build Back Better Act would eliminate nearly a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This would come close to Biden’s 2030 interim target of emissions 50-52 percent lower than 2005 levels, although slower than the pace needed to reach net-zero emissions in 2050.

Data: REPEAT Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Has President Biden supported the U.S. remaining a party to the Paris Agreement?

On January 20, 2021 President Biden took action to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement, and on April 22, 2021 announced a stronger nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Agreement.

Has President Biden taken action to protect communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, help them recover from climate disasters, and build climate resilience?

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order acknowledges the central importance of climate resiliency in government policy. The EO includes building climate resilience as a goal in his mandates on climate finance, the Civilian Climate Corps, agency Climate Action Plans, and the creation of the National Climate Task Force. 

The infrastructure bill enacted by Congress includes significant funding to increase the resiliency of transportation infrastructure and water supplies. The bill contains conservation funding for the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, the Delaware River Basin, and the Klamath River Basin, and includes $350 million for the construction of infrastructure to allow wildlife safe passage under or over roads. The bill also includes funding for reducing risks from flooding and other natural disasters.

If passed by Congress, the Build Back Better Act would allocate funds to a number of different climate resiliency initiatives including: $15 billion for reducing the risk of wildfires; $13 billion for protecting forests; $2.5 billion for urban forestry projects; $6 billion to restore coastal ecosystems; $200 million for the Endangered Species Act; $250 million for wildlife refuges; and $100 million to create and revitalize local parks in urban areas. Unfortunately, almost all of the forest and wildfire resilience funding seems set to funnel money into the logging industry and incentivize the destruction of old-growth forests. In order to responsibly reduce the risk of wildfires, funding should instead be devoted to community smoke shelters, defensible space, and municipal building code regulation. The Biden administration must ensure the protection of our forests as part of a holistic climate plan.

Has President Biden taken steps to ensure a family-sustaining wage for all, provide strong labor protections for workers in the clean energy future, and strengthen the rights of workers to bargain?

President Biden has publicly endorsed the PRO Act, which passed the House of Representatives but has not yet been voted on in the Senate. President Biden’s Climate Executive Order calls for establishing federal procurement standards that “apply and enforce the Davis-Bacon Act and prevailing wage and benefit requirements” and Made in America Laws. The American Jobs Plan calls for the creation of “new, good-quality union jobs for American workers by leveraging their grit and ingenuity to address the climate crisis and build a sustainable infrastructure.”

A number of the investments from the latest version of the Build Back Better Act do “encourage companies to work with unions–through an incentive structure that will lead companies to pay living wages, employ highly-trained workers, and use a majority of materials produced domestically.” 

Credit awarded for supporting a living wage, strong labor protections, and bargaining rights for workers across the economy.

Has President Biden enacted policies to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 or sooner?

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order calls for a “carbon pollution-free electricity sector no later than 2035” — which notably could include fossil energy with carbon capture and storage and nuclear. The EO also calls for using federal funding and procurement power to expand clean electricity, and the Department of the Interior has taken steps to hold lease sales for offshore wind production in the Gulf and the Atlantic. It is expected that the EPA will issue new regulations to reduce power sector emissions, but the scope of those regulations remains unknown. 

The infrastructure bill enacted by Congress contains a number of provisions to deploy clean energy technologies in the electric power sector, including: 

  • $355 million for energy storage; $100 million for wind energy; $84 million for geothermal; $80 million for solar energy; $5 billion to improve the resiliency of the electric grid; 
  • $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program; $2.5 billion for the construction of power transmission lines; and $1 billion to support transmission projects in rural areas.

The Department of the Interior recently announced a significant offshore wind lease sale in the New York Bight which demonstrates the impact policies like the infrastructure bill can have on implementing climate action. This sale is expected to lead to the generation of up to 7 gigawatts of clean energy.

Should it pass Congress, the current version of the Build Back Better Act would create $320 billion in production and investment tax credits to accelerate the manufacturing and installation of clean electricity including wind, solar, energy storage, and advanced manufacturing. These tax credits would drive the bulk of the Build Back Better Act’s emissions reductions. The bill also includes tax credits and DOE grants and loans for transmission projects such as $2.88 billion for loans for renewable energy and renewable energy storage projects, and other provisions. The initial Build Back Better Act included a strong clean electricity program that would have rewarded utilities that stopped burning coal and gas and shifted to renewable energy, however that provision was stripped out during negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). 

Investments in clean energy are critical, but are not sufficient in limiting climate change without simultaneously phasing out fossil fuels. We envision a world free from nuclear energy, fossil fuels, and other false energy solutions, and are defining “renewable” as such. Credit would be awarded for ambitious plans with detailed commitments. Partial credit for some detail and/or less ambition, including simply implementing a return to Obama-era climate regulations.

Has President Biden enacted policies to decarbonize the transportation sector, including phasing out internal combustion engine vehicle sales by 2040 or sooner?

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order aims to use federal procurement to achieve or facilitate “clean and zero-emission vehicles for Federal, State, local, and Tribal government fleets, including vehicles of the United States Postal Service.” 

In December 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized federal greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks. This rule will reduce climate emissions from new vehicles and reverses a major Trump rollback. Under this rule, it is estimated that about 20 percent of new sales will be electric or plug-in hybrids by 2026. However, the new standard is not sufficient to put the U.S. on a path to 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2040. Unlike for the power sector, President Biden has not yet committed to a transportation sector-wide decarbonization target. 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, commonly referred to as the bipartisan infrastructure bill) includes some funding to support decarbonization of the transportation sector, including $7.5 billion to build a national network of EV charging stations and $6 billion to support the development of domestic battery manufacturing and recycling. The bill also includes $5 billion for the purchase of low- and zero-emission school buses.

Should it pass Congress, the Build Back Better Act includes

  • various refundable tax credits to make purchasing an electric vehicle more affordable; 
  • $3.4 billion for EV charging infrastructure; $3 billion for federal procurement of zero-emission and electric vehicles; and $2.57 billion for the purchase of U.S. Postal Service electric delivery vehicles;
  • $5 billion for zero-emissions heavy-duty vehicles, including garbage trucks and school buses.

Has President Biden enacted policies to decarbonize the buildings sector?

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order calls for federal agencies to “use the power of procurement to increase the energy and water efficiency of United States Government installations, buildings, and facilities and ensure they are climate-ready.” Unlike for the power sector, President Biden has not yet committed to a buildings sector-wide emissions target. 

The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $3.5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program to help low-income households increase energy efficiency and lower energy bills, among other provisions.

Should it pass Congress, the Build Back Better Act includes:

  • Rebates to households to incentivize energy efficiency and electrification, worth as much as $500/year in lower energy costs;
  • Extends various residential and commercial energy efficiency tax credits;
  • $500 million to convert federal buildings to high-performance green buildings; and
  • $700 million for states to adopt stronger building codes.

Credit would be awarded for articulating a specific goal to decarbonize residential and commercial buildings, and proposing detailed policies to do so. The Biden administration must also use its regulatory authority to foster greater electrification and energy efficiency in new and existing buildings, and to spur adoption of alternatives to oil and natural gas. For example, updating federal energy efficiency standards for home appliances represents one possibility among many to drive decarbonization in this sector.

Has President Biden enacted policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector?

The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes funding that could help to spur industrial decarbonization, like $4.7 billion in funding for the remediation of orphan wells, however it also expands unproven climate policies such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). The bill includes $500 million for industrial decarbonization demonstration projects, alongside $3.5 billion for CCUS demonstration projects and $2.5 billion for advanced nuclear power demonstrations. The bill provides billions in funding for regional direct air capture (DAC) and “clean” hydrogen hubs, and funding for the transportation and geologic storage of captured carbon. Providing funding for these false climate solutions is misguided and demonstrates how the bipartisan infrastructure bill fails to challenge the power of the fossil fuel industry. Unlike for the power sector, President Biden has not yet committed to an industrial sector-wide emissions target.

The Build Back Better Act’s clean energy tax credits could also play a role in decarbonizing the industrial sector. If the Methane Emissions Reductions Program is included in the final bill, fossil fuel companies will have to pay a fee for excess methane emissions and will receive support for taking action to plug leaks. However, the U.S. approach to methane reductions fails to address emissions from industrial meat and dairy at the source. The Biden administration’s plan proposes measures that could increase concentrated industrial agriculture by incentivizing health-wrecking Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs) for biogas production from manure – another dirty source of energy that will increase air and water contamination for frontline communities of color.  The Build Back Better Act also includes funding to electrify diesel-burning equipment and reduce air pollution at the nation’s ports.

Credit would be awarded for articulating an ambitious Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduction goal for the industrial sector, and proposing detailed policies to achieve the goal. Commitments to eliminate methane emissions from oil and gas production, and to implement “buy clean” rules for government procurement are especially important.

Has President Biden enacted policies to reduce agricultural sector emissions and promote ecological farming and food systems? 

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order calls for a number of initiatives to advance conservation, agriculture, and reforestation, including a Civilian Conservation Corps and a report on meeting the goal of “conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.” The EO notes that “America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels.” However, we’re still waiting for President Biden to end support for false solutions, which include carbon offsets, counter-productive carbon pricing systems such as carbon banks, and biofuels including biomass and biogas. 

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan also proposes funding with the goal to “maximize the resilience of land and water resources to protect communities and the environment.” President Biden has a lot of good words, but the details matter. The Biden-Harris administration needs to do more.

If passed, the Build Back Better Act would include investments in regenerative agriculture, including funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program to increase crop resilience. Unfortunately, the bill could increase pesticide and synthetic fertilizer use, but that remains to be seen. There are perverse incentives that could expand pesticide intensive commodities such as corn and soy that are tied to industrial animal production. The bill claims to help farmers switch to renewable energy and increase energy efficiency, but the administration’s approach would further incentivize Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and scale up manure digesters. CAFOs fuel the climate crisis and contaminate local air, water, and the broader environment. CAFOs and factory farms are not climate solutions and have no place in Build Back Better. 

Has President Biden elevated frontline communities’ leadership to the highest levels of government?

President Biden’s Climate Executive Order establishes a “White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council ” to advise the federal government on a range of issues related to climate, conservation, and environmental justice. 

The Biden administration must follow through and actually incorporate the recommendations from frontline leadership into policymaking, most notably the recommendations in the May 2021 final report from the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. 

There are over 50 environmental justice provisions included in the Build Back Better Act, and the Justice40 principle is included in over 50 programs. The Biden administration must include leaders from frontline communities in both crafting policy and implementing it, actions like forming new structures and processes within government agencies that go beyond typical comment periods to actually change decision making to reflect community wants and needs. 

As articulated by Climate Justice Alliance: “We call on the GND to include frontline, climate affected communities at all stages, from the earliest planning stages through the delivery of programs. This process should be guided by the communities themselves, since they are in the best position to assess local needs and priorities.”


Our score of 36 out of 100 for President Biden’s first year in office shows that while the president and his administration are saying many of the right things, they have taken very few tangible actions to protect our communities from the worst effects of the climate crisis or confront an out of control fossil fuel industry. 

The time for talk is over, President Biden needs to put the full force of his power as president behind his climate promises. 

This starts with transitioning off of fossil fuels and onto renewable energy, ending leasing of public lands to oil and gas companies, and standing up to the fossil fuel companies who disproportionately harm Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working communities.

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Tell Biden: declaring a Climate Emergency would be the beginning of the end to the era of fossil fuels and climate destruction.