President Biden deserves our thanks for recently reinstating an important environmental safeguard that requires actions undertaken by the federal government to be assessed for climate impact. The news gave me something to truly celebrate on Earth Day.
The National Environmental Policy Act, introduced in 1970, originally required federal actions to be assessed for climate impact. But in 2020, then-President Donald Trump removed the requirement to consider the indirect impact on climate. Biden reversed that and now federal agencies must once again assess the climate effects of their direct, indirect and cumulative actions.
I was relieved to see this. With the recent dire warnings about climate change, we can’t afford to disregard any climate impacts.
And those of us in Maine know even indirect effects can have a big influence, as we saw last summer when our sky turned hazy because of fires out West.
But while this reinstated requirement is a good step, the government needs to do more if we’re going to meet Biden’s climate goals, which include having a power sector that’s 100 percent carbon pollution-free by 2035.
The best way to achieve those goals so quickly is to offer a carbon fee and dividend policy. This would encourage market solutions to find ways to reduce carbon emissions, and revenue from the carbon fee would help many households, especially those that are low- and middle-income.
I hope Biden and Congress will support this type of legislation so we’ll have even more to celebrate next Earth Day.