Biden issues climate order, but stops short of declaring national emergency

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


President Joe Biden proved again Wednesday that he has a unique talent for mixed messaging and using any issue, foreign or domestic, as a means of spending billions of dollars.

During a speech in Massachusetts, Biden announced he’d created an executive order aimed at addressing climate concerns, one of the key issues for the left. Throughout the address, the president repeatedly called climate change an emergency but refrained from declaring a national climate emergency, which many within his party had called on him to do.

The decision was no doubt welcome news to conservatives, but the absence of such a declaration seemed odd when compared to the timbre of Biden’s speech.

“This is an emergency, an emergency, and I will … look at it that way,” Biden said during his speech. “I said last week, and I’ll say it again, loud and clear, as president, I’ll use my executive powers to combat climate, the climate crisis, in the absence of congressional action.”

Biden had hoped the U.S. Congress would break its yearslong gridlock and send climate legislation to his desk, but a combination of moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and stiff resistance from Republicans prevented such an occurrence.

“I have a responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger and that’s what climate change is about,” Biden said. “It is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger. The health of our citizens in our communities is literally at stake.”

In its simplest form, the Biden climate change executive order was a $2.3 billion allocation to programs the president said would address both climate change and the high temperatures currently being felt in the United States, while also creating new jobs.

Similar to Biden’s recent abortion executive order, his climate change effort centers on broad, one might argue vague, actions that the right already rejects and that leftists view as insufficient.

According to a White House fact sheet, all money will be filtered through FEMA, which is tasked with spending the money to “help communities increase resilience to heat waves, drought, wildfires, flood, hurricanes, and other hazards by preparing before disaster strikes.”

Beyond the investment, Biden encouraged the Department of the Interior to continue its efforts to broaden wind-energy projects, specifically in the Gulf of Mexico; and, in what is becoming a hallmark of Biden’s executive actions, announced his administration had created guidance.

In this case, Biden announced the Department of Health and Human Services would release guidance as to how a second federal program, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), could “promote the delivery of efficient air conditioning equipment, community cooling centers, and more.”

“[When] it comes to fighting the climate change — climate change, I will not take no for an answer,” Biden said. “I will do everything in my power to clean our air and water, protect our people’s health, to win the clean energy future. This, again, sounds like hyperbole, but our children and grandchildren are counting on us. Not a joke. Not a joke.”

Given the severe nature of the president’s remarks, it seems strange that the resulting executive action was not more forceful, and even stranger that Biden chose to call the situation an emergency without declaring an emergency.

White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy told a press gaggle that Wednesday’s announcement was just the start of actions the White House would announce in the coming days and weeks, that the situation was an emergency, but that the president did not yet feel the emergency constituted a national state of emergency.

“I think that it was just a decision that we need to be thoughtful about this, and we want to outline actions, not just declare things,” McCarthy said. “So I think it was just important for the president to get his arms around the various threads of work that we can put together and lay them out in a way that he’s comfortable with.”

If read literally, McCarthy indicated the president views climate change as a crisis but doesn’t yet feel comfortable fighting it.

When pressed by gathered media about the mismatch of rhetoric and action, McCarthy said, “I think the president is making it very clear today that climate change is an emergency.  And he’s making it very clear today that while Congress didn’t move forward, that just is driving him to move forward with much clearer plans and much larger and more accelerated commitments.”

That explanation did not seem to satisfy the journalists at the gaggle, and one asked if the president feared he might be engaging in executive overreach to declare a national emergency.

“I think the considerations are just that the president wants to make sure that we’re doing this right, that we’re laying it out, and that we have the time we need to get this work done,” McCarthy said. “That’s all.”

McCarthy did not explain how the situation could be urgent enough to be an emergency, but not urgent enough to require urgency, nor would she respond when asked if the president has a legal right to declare a national emergency in response to climate change. However, she did state, emphatically, that the White House and Biden had the authority to act.

“All I know is that the president has broad authority in these areas, and he’s going to utilize the authorities he feels most appropriate,” McCarthy said.

 Later in the day, upon his arrival at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, Biden stated more boldly that he did, in fact, view the declaration of a national emergency as a potential legal problem.

“I’m running into traps on the totality of the authority I have,” Biden said. He later added, “I think I can do more, unless the Congress acts.  In the meantime, I can do more, because not enough is being done now.  And so, there’s still discussions going on about whether or not there will be some action on my climate plan.  And that’s — I’m told that’s in play.  And we’ll see.  We’ll see what happens.”