The next president can do a lot to fight global warming, even without Congress’s help.
During the presidential campaign, much of the debate around climate change centered on what Congress should do. That’s an important question, but if history is any guide, it will take time for Congress to settle on a bill — and there is no guarantee of success, even if Democrats beat the odds and end up gaining control of the Senate. In 2008, Democrats won both houses of Congress and spent nearly two years developing and debating a cap-and-trade bill that ultimately failed — leaving it to cities, states and businesses to act largely on their own.
This time, it’s imperative that President-elect Biden take a whole-government approach to climate action right from the get-go. To his credit, his ambitious climate plan recognizes that there is much he can accomplish without Congress — and some of the most important steps he can take have nothing to do with the Environmental Protection Agency.
I have no doubt Joe Biden will appoint a talented EPA administrator who will start reversing some of the damage of the past four years, but that must be only the beginning. It’s essential that he appoint leaders committed to climate action to lead other key agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — which oversees interstate energy transmission, including oil and gas pipeline applications — as well as the departments of energy and transportation.