President Biden has quickly followed through on his commitment to address climate change with a series of executive orders aimed at undoing the policies of the Trump administration and appointments across the government to carry out his ambitious agenda. But his plans will also require the approval of Congress to provide the necessary funding and legislative authority.
Given the political divides in Washington, there are plenty of questions about Biden’s ability to win over the new Congress even with his party in charge of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Heidi Heitkamp, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, for some informed insight on the dynamics on Capitol Hill. Senator Heitkamp is known as a middle-of-the-road politician, one who worked with Republicans as well as members of her own party in search of legislative solutions. Among her priorities then and now is a commitment to making sure rural states like North Dakota have a say in national debates over major issues like energy and climate change.
She served in the Senate from 2013 to 2019, and had assignments on the Agriculture, Banking and Homeland Security committees. Earlier in her career, she was an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency before completing two terms as North Dakota state tax commissioner and two terms as the state’s attorney general. After leaving Congress, she co-founded the One Country Project to reopen rural dialogue between voters and Democrats.
Recently, the Bipartisan Policy Center named Senator Heitkamp co-chair of its new Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Task Force and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics made her a 2021 Pritzker Fellow.
Among the topics Bill and Senator Heitkamp discuss are the prospects for President Biden’s priorities for funding and legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions and promote cleaner forms of energy, including new jobs. Bill and Senator Heitkamp also talk about some of her former colleagues in Congress and their potential influence on energy and climate issues, as well as the outlook for oil and natural gas and the potential for emerging technologies like carbon capture and sequestration.
Joe Biden is selecting a large, experienced and diversified team to carry out his ambitious program to address climate change. Among them are John Kerry, the former secretary of state; Gina McCarthy, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Jennifer Granholm, once the governor of Michigan; and Deb Haaland, a member of Congress who would be the first Native American named to a president’s Cabinet.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless discusses the Biden administration’s climate change goals and his planned appointments with Carol Browner, who spearheaded climate policy for President Barack Obama following his inauguration in 2009.
With a long and distinguished career in environmental and energy policy and regulation at the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House, Carol brings unique insight to the challenges of implementing new policies and the wherewithal that’s needed to make it happen.
Carol now is a senior counselor in the sustainability practice at the Allbright Stonebridge Group, or ASG, where she advises clients on environmental impact, sustainable strategies, and partnerships. But her roles in government go back some 30 years.
From 2009 to 2011, she was an assistant to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, where she oversaw the coordination of environmental, energy, climate, transport and related policy across the federal government. During that time, the White House secured the largest investment ever in clean energy and established a national car policy that included both new fuel efficiency standards and the first-ever greenhouse gas reductions.
From 1993 through 2001, she was administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, where she adopted the most stringent air pollution standards in U.S. history and set for the first time a clean air standard for fine particulates. Her stint at EPA is the longest ever for an administrator at that agency.
She had state experience, as well, having served as secretary of environmental regulation in Florida from 1991 through 1993.
Among her other involvements, she’s the chair of the board of the League of Conservation Voters.
Among the topics that Carol and Bill cover are the challenges the Biden administration faces in fulfilling its sweeping plans to address climate change as well as the roles that his appointments of Kerry, McCarthy and others will play in that undertaking. They also talk about the outlook for congressional action on climate change at a time when Biden and lawmakers will also be consumed with addressing a pandemic and economic troubles, not to mention the repercussions of President Trump’s impeachment.
The attack on the U.S. Capitol may have obscured for the moment the traditional transfer of power that will take place with the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. But even amid the ongoing turmoil in Washington, efforts to set agendas in the new administration and the new Congress on important policy matters, like climate change, continue to take place.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless turns to two of the most experienced reporters covering energy and climate change: Amy Harder of Axios and Steve Mufson of The Washington Post.
The political climate has changed considerably in recent days. And it’s not only because of the violence on Capitol Hill. Significantly, Democrats will now control the Senate as well as the House of Representatives and the White House.
Bill, Amy and Steve talk about the hostility at the Capitol, which had taken place just a day before their conversation and sets a troubling tone for governance in Washington as the year 2021 begins.
That said, they look at the aggressive plans for energy and climate policy by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their options for acting on them quickly. They discuss, as well, the makeup of the new Congress and some of the lawmakers whose impact on policy is likely to be felt.
Regulation comes up, too, especially the potential for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to step up their oversight of the impacts of climate change.
Amy has been with Axios for four years, with her column, the “Harder Line,” a regular feature of the news service. Previously, she was a reporter at the Wall Street Journal and National Journal.
Steve has worked at The Post since 1989, covering the White House, China, economic policy and diplomacy as well as energy. His current beat is the business of climate change. Earlier, he worked at the Wall Street Journal in New York, London and Johannesburg.
As he talks to these senior reporters, Bill calls attention to the Center on Global Energy Policy’s Energy Journalism Initiative, which gives energy reporters an opportunity to learn more about complex topics associated with the beat, like science, technology, markets and policy, all with an eye toward helping them in their work. Some 80 journalists from the U.S. and abroad have participated in EJI since its inception in 2017, and details of this year's program will be announced soon.
What lies in store for energy and climate policy in the U.S. and other nations in 2021? With a new administration in Washington committed to addressing climate change forcefully and new commitments to reducing emissions by other governments around the world, the potential for making headway on this existential threat seems possible, though significant challenges remain.
In this first edition of Columbia Energy Exchange in 2021, host Bill Loveless is joined by Rachel Kyte, the dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University. With her distinguished career at the World Bank and the United Nations and now in academia, she’s an ideal guest to help think about what the new year will mean for energy and climate policy not only in the U.S. but also globally.
A 2002 graduate of Fletcher’s Global Master of Arts Program, Dean Kyte returned to the school outside Boston in 2012 as a professor of practice and was named the 14th dean of the Fletcher School in 2019. She’s the first woman to lead the nation’s oldest graduate-only school of international affairs.
Prior to joining Fletcher, Dean Kyte was a special representative of the UN secretary general and chief executive officer of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Before that, she was a vice president and special envoy for climate change at the World Bank.
A native of England, she earned her undergraduate degree in history and politics from the University of London.
In their conversation, Dean Kyte and Bill talk about the increasing risks posed by climate change as we begin 2021 and the challenges facing world leaders, including President-elect Joe Biden, in setting agendas and building public support for emissions reductions. Diplomacy, of course, will matter significantly as the U.S. rejoins the Paris climate agreement, and Dean Kyte offers her insight on how relations among the U.S. and other nations might play out.
They also talk about the state of climate activism today, especially as it pertains to young people, as well as environmental justice and the role of women in energy.