New report: One hundred days in, President Biden is making headway restoring environmental protections

Media Contacts
Josh Chetwynd

Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Rejoining Paris climate accords tops the list; many Trump rollbacks are still under review

U.S. PIRG Education Fund; Environment America Research & Policy Center

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden promised ambitious action to tackle climate change and America’s other environmental problems upon taking office. A new progress report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center finds that despite the need to rebuild many federal agencies and tackle the COVID-19 crisis, the Biden administration has already taken numerous steps to restore environmental protections rolled back by the Trump administration. The report also gives President Biden “extra credit” for new policies aimed at addressing climate change and conserving our lands and waters. However, most actions remain incomplete.

“Protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places we love aren’t liberal or conservative policies; they are actions desired by and benefitting all Americans,” said Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office. “While we applaud the progress in these areas so far, in the next 100 days, President Biden must move swiftly to continue to rectify the environmental harms of the past four years. We won’t be able to breathe easily until all of these misguided Trump-era rollbacks are off the books.”

In December 2020, Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a report, First Things to Fix, identifying five actions the Biden administration could set in motion on day one to protect the environment. The organizations also identified 15 additional policy decisions that would have a significant impact on conserving our natural spaces, cleaning up our air and water, and combating the climate crisis. 

The Biden administration began restoring or reviewing most of these popular protections on day one, including rejoining the Paris climate accords. He also committed the U.S. to reduce global warming emissions 50-52 percent by 2030 and moved to restore states’ authority to set stricter vehicle emission standards.

“The Biden administration has already advanced policies to rein in pollution and build healthier communities,” said Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG environment campaigns director. “The administration’s latest actions to let states set vehicle emission standards that support their clean air and climate goals is not only the right thing to do, it will help bolster the market for cleaner cars, benefiting all Americans.”

America is losing two football fields’ worth of land and water every minute, and many iconic animals native to America are now endangered or threatened. President Biden set a goal of protecting 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans by the year 2030 on the day of his inauguration. He also has placed a moratorium on new drilling in public lands and waters, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In addition, the administration is reviewing Trump administration actions to weaken endangered species protections and shrink national monuments.

“America the Beautiful is full of wondrous places and wildlife,” said Ellen Montgomery, public lands director for Environment America. “President Biden made the right call by committing to protect 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. Now, he should restore protections to places that already used to enjoy them, including the wild and roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest and our national monuments: Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts.”

The full list of actions recommended by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center and their status can be seen here.