For Immediate Release, June 6, 2022

Contact:

Jean Su, jsu@biologicaldiversity.org, (415) 770-3187

Biden Use of Defense Production Act Signals Pivot on Climate, Renewables

Executive Action Should Curb Fossil Fuels, Declare Climate Emergency

WASHINGTON— President Biden signaled a major shift in climate strategy today, announcing executive actions that use the Defense Production Act to manufacture solar panel components, heat pumps, insulation, and grid transformers needed to speed the country toward renewable energy.

“This is a tremendous sea change in the Biden administration's approach to climate action,” said Jean Su, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s energy justice program. “While the president has been focused almost exclusively on legislation, this announcement signals he’s willing and able to use his broad executive powers on climate. Now this show of leadership needs to continue toward rapidly closing the deadly fossil fuel era.”

The Biden administration’s plan follows the Center’s detailed Defense Production Act legal plan, released in February. That plan was echoed in related legislation from U.S. Reps. Cori Bush and Jason Crow and the executive actions platform from the Congressional Progressive Caucus. It was also supported by hundreds of public interest organizations and more than 500 elected officials across the country.

“Biden’s executive moves give critical momentum to the needed transition to solar energy,” said Su. “We hope this use of the Defense Production Act is a turning point for the president, who must use all his executive powers to confront the climate emergency head on. While pausing tariffs will bring in much-needed solar panels quickly, it’s also vital for the U.S. to ramp up domestic manufacturing with strong labor practices so we don’t support slave-labor manufacturing abroad. Biden needs to follow through on these promising actions by using every tool at hand for a rapid phaseout of violent fossil fuels and robust development of a just, renewable energy system.”

Biden’s solar plan encourages high labor standards tied to boosted manufacturing and the establishment of a coordinated action team of industry, environmental justice, and labor stakeholders under Title VII of the Act. The plan also encourages boosting community-based clean energy and distributed generation by municipalities and in rural areas.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime to replace a dirty, oppressive energy system with a just and clean one,” said Su. “It's vital that Biden go beyond government and business and bring all stakeholders to the table, including environmental justice communities and labor, to map out what our new system of equitable and resilient energy looks like.”

Today’s action illustrates how the president can use his executive powers close the chapter on fossil fuels. The Center and hundreds of organizations have long urged Biden to take a suite of actions, including halting new fossil fuel infrastructure permitting and electrifying transportation.

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Solar PV panels in Jurupa Valley, CA. Courtesy U.S. Department of Energy. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.