March 2, 2021

2021 Federal Policy: The Year of Climate Action & Electric Vehicles

By Shanonn Weigel, Head of Policy & Grace Morrissey, Manager, Renewables Supply

How President Biden’s Cabinet Will Transform Energy Policy in 2021

 

2021 Federal Policy Biden Cabinet Energy

Highlights & Trends

2021 is the year for electric vehicles (EVs). As competition, ingenuity, and a growing global consumer demand for EVs intensifies across the auto industry, Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, and the Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, among others have amplified the importance of EVs, infrastructure, and climate action.

Possible solutions to address climate action and economic recovery needed in a COVID-19 world are likely to complement one another, as President Biden puts both issues at the forefront of his administration’s agenda.

Climate action, sustainability, and energy management are clear priorities for Biden – domestically and abroad. His Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, supports fully integrating climate action into U.S. foreign policy, national security strategies, and trade. If confirmed, Biden’s nominees signal a commitment to a cohesive climate action goal across all agencies. This is a sharp change from the Trump administration, emphasized by Biden’s swift re-commitment of the U.S. to the Paris Climate Accord via executive order on his first day in office, a reversal of Trump’s action in November of 2020. Biden and his nominees have signaled their intention to keep climate action central to their goals, making all cabinet positions and the respective agencies relevant to energy policy. Nominee department goals, stated plans, and past perspectives on energy policy per agency are outlined below.

Energy Indications: The Biden Cabinet

Each nominee is listed below, along with their Energy Indication – a brief snapshot of what is likely expected of the official based on their stated goals for the agency, as well as their prior action and approach toward the energy sector. Edison’s Policy Team continues to track these agencies as a new administration settles into Washington. Some departments are more directly tethered to energy policy than others. Agencies highlighted under the “Energy” category are those whose agendas and subsequent legislation could directly impact the power industry – from supply chain to infrastructure to federal climate goals.

Energy

 

Lloyd Austin

Secretary of Defense
Energy Indication:

  • Austin is an advocate of leading the world by example
  • He has said the Department of Defense (DOD) must “include climate considerations as an essential element of our national security” and “assess the impacts of climate change on our security strategies, operations, and infrastructure”
  • The DOD has acknowledged that the planet’s changing climate has a dramatic effect on missions, plans, and installations
  • The DOD will also support incorporating climate risk analysis into modeling, simulation, wargaming, analysis, and defense strategy. In addition, the DOD will support changing how we approach our own carbon footprint
  • Austin considers the DOD an advocate for developing useful climate-friendly technologies at scale
Antony Blinken

Secretary of State
Energy Indication:

  • Blinken has stated climate change is a top foreign policy priority
  • He has publicly called for:
    • The US to rejoin the Paris Agreement
    • The State Department to include climate action in U.S. foreign policy, national security strategies, and trade
    • The U.S. to act as a global leader, compelling governments abroad to progress with further climate action
Pete Buttigieg

Secretary of Transportation
Energy Indication:

  • Buttigieg’s top transportation concerns include industry relief and recovery amidst COVID, addressing the confluence of jobs, infrastructure, and climate
  • He supported the Biden Administration’s Keystone XL Pipeline permit revocation
  • Edison expects the Department of Transportation (DOT) to aid progress toward transportation electrification, such as building out EV charging infrastructure
  • Edison will continue to track and analyze DOT strategies, mandates, and policies
Merrick Garland

Attorney General
Energy Indication:

  • Known throughout his legal career to support regulatory agencies
  • Edison anticipates increased enforcement of the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and similar policies
Jennifer Granholm

Secretary of Energy
Energy Indication:

  • Granholm expects to see new job creation in the clean energy sector
  • A known supporter of zero-emission vehicles, she is on the board of Proterra
  • She stated: “I think it is important that as we develop fossil fuels that we also develop the technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Debra Haaland

Secretary of Interior
Energy Indication:

  • Overseeing nearly one-fifth of the land in the U.S., Haaland intends to promote renewable energy and further federal climate action, also noting the labor force in energy and infrastructure
  • Following an Executive Order temporarily suspending new oil and gas leasing on federal public lands, the Department of Interior will help establish the Administration’s position on domestic oil and gas production
  • Edison expects continued agency work toward protecting indigenous lands, endangered species, and protected areas, in addition to expedited permitting for offshore wind projects
John Kerry

US Special Envoy for Climate
Energy Indication:

  • In this role, Kerry will a seat at the White House National Security Council
  • This decision indicates to Edison that both domestic and international climate action efforts will be a focal point for the next four years
Eric Lander

Presidential Science Advisor & Director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy
Energy Indication:

  • Lander will be the first case of this role as a cabinet-level position
  • He has pledged along with the Biden administration to place science at the center of government
  • Lander has a strong relationship with John Kerry, who has been nominated as the Special Envoy for Climate
Gina McCarthy

White House National Climate Advisor
Energy Indication:

  • McCarthy authored the EPA regulations when she was head of the EPA during the Obama administration
  • Edison expects McCarthy to replace these regulations, as they were negated during the Trump administration and advocate for domestic climate mitigation policies alongside other agencies
Gina Raimondo

Secretary of Commerce
Energy Indication:

  • Raimondo emphasizes the importance of the labor force to mitigate climate change
  • Edison continues to track and analyze federal budgets, international trade shifts, and Raimondo’s effort to incorporate energy and climate change policies via legislation and the power of the purse
Michael Regan

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Energy Indication:

  • Regan is known to work well with public community actors and the private sector
  • His career history includes working on climate change and pollution issues
  • Regan has promised urgent work on climate action at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • He plans to work complementarily to economic needs to address climate issues and job creation needs
Katherine Tai

US Trade Representative
Energy Indication:

  • Tai intends to create a trade framework that supports climate change mitigation, racial equity, and economic recovery
Linda Thomas-Greenfield

US Ambassador to the United Nations
Energy Indication:

  • Has acknowledged the importance of urgent climate action on a global scale
Tom Vilsack

Secretary of Agriculture
Energy Indication:

  • Addressing the Senate, Vilsack spoke directly to climate change, emissions mitigation, and carbon credit systems as they relate to food systems
  • He claims agriculture sector to consider issues like methane capture, waste material management, and biofuels
  • Vilsack is a proponent of market incentives, specifically for farmers to work toward a net-zero agricultural industry
  • He supports the use funds to pursue carbon capture programs
  • He has requested his colleagues to create a national farmers group to advise on possible structures of a carbon market within the agricultural industry
Marty Walsh

Secretary of Labor
Energy Indication:

  • Walsh is the current chairman of Climate Mayors, a national bipartisan group committed to climate change mitigation
  • He is supportive of union workforce development via renewable investments
Janet YellenJanet Yellen

Secretary of Treasury
Energy Indication:

  • Yellen has noted top priorities including COVID-related impacts, economic & labor recovery, & global trade cooperation
  • Edison will continue to track & analyze federal policies & anticipated energy market shifts as they evolve, especially those affecting the energy labor force, energy supply chains, infrastructure and asset development, economic incentives, and market signals

Broader Cabinet

 

Xavier Becerra

Secretary of Health & Human Services
Energy Indication:

  • Becerra has previously advocated for climate action policy
  • Edison suspects Becerra likely to identify and mitigate present and future public health effects of climate change
Miguel Cardona

Secretary of Education
Energy Indication:

  • Cardona intends to consider broader circumstances that impact students’ ability to learn
  • Pressing agency issues indicated by Cardona thus far are tangential to energy
Marcia Fudge

Secretary of Housing & Urban Development
Energy Indication:

  • Pressing agency issues indicated by Fudge thus far are tangential to energy
Isabel Guzman

Administrator of the Small Business Administration
Energy Indication:

  • Pressing agency issues indicated by Guzman thus far are tangential to energy
Avril Haines

Director of National Intelligence
Energy Indication:

  • Pressing agency issues indicated by Haines thus far are tangential to energy
Alejandro Mayorkas

Secretary of Homeland Security
Energy Indication:

  • Mayorkas has mentioned and referenced climate change as a threat
  • Pressing agency issues indicated by Mayorkas thus far are tangential to energy
Denis McDonough

Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Energy Indication:

  • Pressing agency issues indicated by McDonough thus far are tangential to energy
Cecilia Rouse

Chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers
Energy Indication:

  • Rouse stresses issues concerning wages and inequality; concerted action on these issues with other agencies could impact supply chains and national labor regulations in various industries
  • Edison will continue to track energy supply chain matters, labor legislation, and both national and global economic shifts to inform our recommended energy strategies and shape different market options available to clients
Neera Tanden

Director of the Office of Management & Budget
Energy Indication:

  • Tanden is known for her past work regarding climate action
  • Pressing agency issues indicated by Tanden thus far are tangential to energy

 

 

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