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Biden homes in on climate risk, pledges to reinstate rules Trump rolled back

If elected in November, former Vice President Joe Biden plans to immediately sign a series of executive orders reinstating environmental regulations rolled back by the Trump administration, particularly those affecting the fossil fuel industries.

Biden, who recently secured enough delegates to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, said he would rejoin the Paris climate agreement first thing if he wins, contending that the accord is critical to reducing global emissions. He also wants to restore the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards secured under the Obama administration and cap methane emissions for both new and existing oil and gas operations, Biden said during a June 16 League of Conservation Voters virtual member event.

The former vice president also intends to take steps toward reaching a 100% clean energy economy by 2050, retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient and create jobs building hundreds of thousands of electric-vehicle charging stations.

"I'm going to invest more than we spent to send a man to the moon on just pure research," Biden said.

While Democrats and climate advocates have called for an enormous investment in clean energy and a low-carbon economy to combat the economic recession, the Trump administration has sought multiple avenues to assist the struggling oil and gas industry through the pandemic and market downturn.

Biden's anticipated approach would stand in contrast to that of the Trump administration, which has rolled back several environmental regulations impacting the fossil fuel industry and focused on attaining global energy dominance. Observers expect the former vice president, if elected, would pursue more progressive energy and climate policies than the Obama administration, in light of more bipartisan recognition of the threat posed by climate change.

"We either curb it now or we're in for one hell of a mess," Biden said. "This is the most important election of our lifetimes, not because I'm running, but the character of this country is on the ballot, and lives and livelihoods are on the ballot. The future of our planet is on the ballot."

Within his first 100 days in office, Biden promised to try to host a summit with the world's leading emitters to persuade them to "up the ante." He also said he would consider taxing imports from countries that fail to meet their climate goals.

Additionally, he pledged to pursue a worldwide ban on fossil fuel subsidies, reiterated his plan to ban new fracking on public lands and hold executives personally liable for pollution they were aware of. If elected, Biden would rescind Trump's presidential permit required to allow the Keystone XL oil pipeline to cross international lines as well.

A so-called clean energy revolution could create millions of good-paying jobs, he said, noting the importance of creating opportunities for fossil fuel workers displaced by a clean energy transition. Biden also would aim to put unemployed oil and gas industry staff back to work addressing uncapped well sites.

Biden drew a parallel between climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the latter has recently highlighted the fragility of the world.

"It shows what happens when our leaders just ignore science. People die. ... Pollution and climate change, I think, make the threat to global health, to the economy, to racial justice far worse, and people intuitively now understand that," Biden said. "If you think what we're seeing now is bad, just wait until hundreds of millions of people begin to migrate and flee ... floods and droughts and other effects of climate change."