President Joe Biden is undertaking what would be the most ambitious effort ever to cut America’s oil, gas and coal emissions and stave off the worst effects of climate change. New executive orders will target federal subsidies for those industries and halt new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.
The orders awaiting his signature Wednesday aim to conserve 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters in the next 10 years, move to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet and elevate climate change to a national security priority. The conservation plan would set aside millions of acres for recreation, wildlife and climate efforts by 2030.
His executive order is also intended to boost jobs and the environment.
Part of the move freezes new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters “to the extent possible,” according to a White House summary.
Biden wants to wean the nation off fossil fuels as quickly as possible and sees a pause on future oil leases as an effective solution to cleaner technologies that are becoming cheaper and more available.
These actions further strain oil companies not betting on new green economies.
Some of the largest oil companies in the world have seen a decline including ExxonMobil who took a back seat to a clean energy producer, Florida’s NextEra’s Energy last October.
NextEra Energy is considered one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S. and makes more wind and solar energy than any other company in the world. The company’s bet on clean energy allowed it to edge out Exxon last October with a market cap hitting $143.8 billion and surpassing about $2 billion more than Chevron, America’s No. 2 oil and gas producer.
Change is happening across the Atlantic. Renewable energy is now the main source of electricity in Europe overtaking fossil fuel use abroad for the first time.
Oil industry groups have been pushing back against the new leasing plan, arguing it will ultimately cost jobs. The White House sees the change as a way to increase jobs in less carbon-emitting energy and infrastructure sectors.
Biden also is elevating climate change to a national security priority. The conservation plan would set aside millions of acres for recreation, wildlife and climate efforts by 2030 as part of Biden’s campaign pledge for a $2 trillion program to slow global warming.
President Donald Trump, who ridiculed the science of climate change, withdrew the U.S. from the Paris global climate accord, opened more public lands to coal, gas and oil production and weakened regulation on fossil fuel emissions. Experts say these emissions are heating the Earth’s climate dangerously and worsening floods, droughts and other natural disasters.
The Associated Press contributed content to this story.