50% By 2030 — The Administration Is Figuring Out How to Actually Get There

The President today formally announced that the United States was pledging to reduce its emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.  The announcement isn’t a surprise, but that doesn’t lessen its importance.  So large a reduction will be a heavy lift, particularly in a federal system where many states are still not exactly with the program.

So how will this Administration get us on a path to 50%?

One way will be to speed up permitting of significant new renewable energy generation.  In this context, it’s appropriate to read the story of Biden’s 50% pledge together with yesterday’s Bloomberg story (subscription required) that Brenda Mallory, CEQ chair, said in an interview that the White House intends to reshape NEPA reviews “in a way that enables ‘aggressive and high-charging deployment of renewable energies and other things.’”  I particularly like this quote from the Bloomberg story:

She’s also thinking about ways to balance in-depth analyses of a project’s environmental impacts with input from concerned members of the community.

“I feel like that’s the charge,” she said. “It’s not even, ‘Can it be done?’ We’re being told to do it,” she said.

Both the Trump Administration and the Biden Administration made clear that they wanted to reform NEPA reviews of large-scale development projects.  The only difference is that the Trump Administration wanted to facilitate siting of projects that have significant adverse environmental impacts.  The Biden Administration wants to facilitate siting of projects necessary to address a global environmental crisis.

In any case, it’s clear that the Biden Administration sees the challenge, is determined to address it, and is thinking comprehensively about all the different pieces that have to fit together to get from here to there.  It’s Earth Day.  President Biden has been in office for a mere three months, but he has already accomplished more than probably almost anyone expected.

It’s a day to be optimistic.

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