Progress Report: President Biden’s First Year

Following years of rollbacks, President Joe Biden began his term nearly a year ago amidst unprecedented environmental and public health challenges. Despite these obstacles, his administration has made significant strides toward restoring lost environmental protections and confronting daunting threats to our climate and public health, according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. 

A year of restoring lost environmental protections

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

From toxic water pollution to increasingly fierce wildfires, President Joe Biden took office following years of worsening environmental problems. 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 actions that would have a significant impact on conserving our natural spaces, cleaning up our air and water, and combating the climate crisis.  In April 2021, Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a subsequent progress report, President Biden’s First 100 Days.

Following the Biden administration’s first year, our progress report finds that, despite the need to rebuild many federal agencies and tackle the COVID-19 crisis, the Biden administration has taken numerous important steps to restore many key environmental protections. In his first year in office, President Biden made bold strides towards reducing global warming pollution, getting the lead out of drinking water, and more. Of our initial list of 20 priority actions, 6 are done or nearly done, and almost all the others are in progress. Three are fully complete: Rejoining the Paris climate accord, restoring protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument, and supporting ratification of the Kigali Agreement which will phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons.

While much of the attention has been on President Biden’s legislative agenda—including the successful passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the currently stalled Build Back Better Act—our report finds that Biden has also used his administrative powers to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our public lands while tackling climate change.

The administration’s agenda for the next year should build on the progress made in 2021 by swiftly undoing the many harmful Trump administration rollbacks through restoration of the environmental policies listed in the report.