The independent student media site of West Linn High School


The independent student media site of West Linn High School


The independent student media site of West Linn High School


Balancing ambition with political realities

AMPLIFIER PREVIEW: The Biden Administration’s legacy with the climate crisis
Graphic by Finn Howell
Green Horizons: Throughout President Biden’s four years in office, he has enacted many policy decisions centered around climate and wildlife sustainability. “As President, I’ll use my executive powers to combat the climate crisis,” Biden said.

Only a few months after being inaugurated, President Biden set a target for the United States to achieve a 50% reduction in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. Later that year, the White House released the long-term strategy for the United States to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

During his first hours in office, Biden made two vital executive orders in regard to his climate promises. In the first, he rejoined the Paris Climate Accords, which previous President Trump had left. In the second, he revoked the permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would have transported fossil fuels from Canada across the United States. The order also directs federal agencies to start reversing and revising Trump administration decisions, restoring protections and banning drilling in multiple national parks, and setting stricter emissions and fuel economy standards for vehicles.

Four months later, Biden signed into law the most extreme climate legislature the United States has ever seen: The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Four months later, Biden signed into law the most extreme climate legislature the United States has ever seen: The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The IRA budgeted $369 billion towards increasing the amount of renewable energy infrastructure and increasing the accessibility of renewable energy in the homes and lives of all Americans. The bill brought tax rebates for citizens purchasing electric vehicles, installing solar panels, or implementing efficient climate controls and water pumps. Manufacturers, energy suppliers, and the agricultural industry using sustainable practices also saw large tax rebates.  

According to the Senate’s official summary of the IRA, “[It] lowers energy costs, increases cleaner production, and reduces carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030.” 

However, the IRA barely passed in the Senate— the vote came down to West Virginia senator Joe Manchin. Manchin has long been an open supporter of the continuation of fossil fuels, and agreed to vote to pass the law only if provisions were added requiring further mandatory drilling and fossil fuel production. Under the IRA, the government is required to offer 60 million acres in an offshore oil and gas lease sale one year prior to issuing any new wind leases.

Because of the need for compromise in the Senate to allow the IRA to exist at all, fossil fuel production in the U.S. has continued to increase at record levels. 

Despite the IRA’s broad support among Democratic and Independent voters, opinions of the public took a sharp decline with a 13% drop in Biden’s approval ratings in terms of his climate agenda among voters aged 18-29 after the approval of the Willow Project in 2023. 

The backlash and controversy among U.S. climate activists caused voters to be disillusioned with the Biden administration’s actions on climate. To a number of climate activists, approving the Willow Project felt like a huge step in the wrong direction. The implementation of the project will result in large amounts of oil drilling and the associated emissions as well as cause the destruction of public land and wildlife.

While the public disapproval of the Willow Project is deserved in terms of climate impact, the outrage is massively overblown in scale. The emissions from the Willow Project are dramatically outweighed by the reduction in emissions created by the IRA, even with the fossil fuel provisions. 

Many vocal opponents of the Willow Project also do not acknowledge or aren’t aware that in response to the backlash, the Biden administration has added protections for the Arctic region. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a statement about what oil and gas development would do for the environment. Beyond emission control, the BLM also proposed new land management regulations for the reserve that would stop leasing in wetlands, which are crucial for birds from every continent.

Throughout Biden’s term so far, he’s added 89 policies regarding environmental regulations and protections, and has proposed another 74. In addition to his creation of new policy, he has overturned 93 of the Trump administration’s environmental policies, many of which discouraged environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. 

The majority of these policy decisions center around air pollution and greenhouse gasses, with 46 policies added and 34 proposed. The rest of the decisions are based on fossil fuel drilling, wildlife protection, and infrastructure permitting.

In contrast, Trump reversed, revoked, or otherwise rolled back nearly 100 environmental rules, according to a New York Times analysis. He also exited the Paris Climate Accord and drastically cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. 

Throughout his 2024 election campaigning, Trump has continued to downplay the impacts climate change will have on U.S communities and people around the world. It’s safe to assume that his previous patterns of pushing fossil fuel drilling and deregulating sustainability will continue if he secures the election this fall.

In terms of addressing the climate crisis, Biden’s main failure can be seen in that he has focused entirely on increasing the production and accessibility of clean, renewable energy and has not focused enough on decreasing the amount of fossil fuel production. 

However, it’s worth noting that the main downside of the IRA, which are the fossil fuel provisions, are only included in order to allow the law to pass at all. Even with the provisions, the act will be an incredibly positive force in moving the U.S. toward a more sustainable future.

Biden has taken his claims seriously, even if he hasn’t successfully fulfilled all of them, and is continuing to emphasize climate change in his actions

It’s important to push politicians to continue to be better and do more about important issues. It’s also important to hold politicians accountable for breaking promises. However, Biden has taken his claims seriously, even if he hasn’t successfully fulfilled all of them, and is continuing to emphasize climate change in his actions. That deserves to be recognized. All things considered, four years is a relatively short amount of time to enact large amounts of change, and another four years will give his administration more ability to create the change we need.

Government has more power to make significant, lasting change than almost any other group or organization. However, change in our government comes slowly, and that’s to be expected. While imperfect, Biden has had a significant amount of positive climate action, and has continued to fight even when faced with pushback from pro-fossil fuel counterparts. 

This November, when Biden and Trump run head to head for a second time, the choice is not between the lesser of two evils; one option is a man who has and will continue to deny climate change, and the other is a man who passed the most impactful piece of pro-climate legislation the U.S. has ever seen. The natural environment and climate is an irreplaceable aspect of our world that must be protected for the sake of all people and animals. It’s imperative that individuals use their power to vote based on informed decisions. Biden is not a climate disaster— he’s one of the first real beacons of hope for the U.S.

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About the Contributors
Kaelyn Jones
Kaelyn Jones, Multimedia Editor
Kaelyn Jones, junior, has been involved with wlhsNOW since her freshman year. As the first multimedia editor, she hopes to push podcasting and broadcast journalism to become an integral part of our publication, and specifically enjoys videography. Outside of journalism, Jones is a co-president of the CTE Environmental Science club, and is passionate about birdwatching, hiking, bouldering, and working with kids in the outdoors.
Finn Howell
Finn Howell, Coverage Editor
Finn Howell, Junior, is the coverage editor and is passionate about making students feel seen and recognized. He spends much of his time outside of journalism practicing music, running, and climbing. He specifically enjoys playing clarinet and saxophone with the WLHS band. Howell’s favorite form of media production is photography, and you can follow his journey through media publications here on wlhsNOW as well as on his portfolio,
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    Lawrence Jones
    Apr 16, 2024 at 10:50 pm

    Well reasoned and well said! Biden made substantial progress with a difficult Congress, and we can expect more progress if voters can deliver more responsible Congressional members in November. Keep spreading the news!