By Mark Richardson
President Joe Biden signed executive orders last week aimed at tackling climate change, curbing pollution, conserving natural resources and addressing environmental justice.
To further develop his administration’s policies, the directives also created a federal Office of Climate Change and a National Climate Task Force to formulate objectives on global warming and public health.
Arizona State Rep. Andrés Cano (D-Tucson) said after years of climate inaction, Biden’s changes are both welcome and essential.
“Ultimately, the president’s executive actions are not only badly needed,” said Cano, “but more than anything will be a win for América’s economy as we try to ascertain the crises — the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession, racial injustice and the climate crisis.”
Biden has instructed federal agencies to prioritize environmental justice as they carry out orders to mitigate climate change and reduce pollution. He is directing 40% of clean-energy investments toward underserved and marginalized communities.
Cano said the president’s call for new investments in clean energy will help create good jobs, spur growth in Arizona’s economy, and possibly right some historic wrongs.
“While the polluter CEOs of our nation want to focus on their bottom line,” said Cano, “it is absolutely a step in the right direction for us to acknowledge that the impact of federal and state policies ultimately are affecting the most vulnerable.”
Cano said he is frustrated with the Republican-dominated Arizona Legislature, where he says common-sense approaches to dealing with climate change and environmental issues tend to fall on deaf ears.
“From an Arizona perspective,” said Cano, “no matter what Washington, D.C. does, we have to recognize that a clean, renewable-energy standard not only is smart for Arizonans, but it actually will create jobs. Instead, what we’re stuck with is debating whether or not climate change is real.”
While he said he endorses Bidens use of executive orders to reverse Trump administration programs and advance his own agenda, Cano said Congress ultimately must pass climate-change legislation to make it more difficult for future administrations to roll back his policies.
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