Biden-Harris Administration’s First 100 Days Expose Priorities, Lay Groundwork

US President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have consistently framed their policies with what they call the four major “crises” facing the nation: COVID-19, the economy, climate, and inequity. Many of the most important executive actions and policy proposals during the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration, whether by legislative proposal, executive order, rulemaking, or other policy vehicle, have been framed as an attempt to address one or more of these four policy concerns, and most address more than one.

Day 1 of the administration started with a series of executive orders addressing matters within the president’s direct authority and then continued on to legislative proposals, starting with the American Rescue Plan of 2021 and continuing through the release of the proposed American Jobs Plan (focusing on infrastructure) on March 31, 2021, and the framework of the American Families Plan on April 28, 2021.

While 100 days of a 1,094-day term of office is in many respects an artifice, it historically serves as a point at which we take measure of performance. The following recap is a look back at some of the more wide-reaching and impactful (or in some cases, potentially impactful) executive orders, legislative actions, policy proposals, and other developments during the first phase of the Biden-Harris administration’s term.

Climate Change: Environmental Policy

The Biden-Harris administration has set its sights on an ambitious environmental policy agenda, focusing on climate change and environmental justice as key initiatives, and intends to implement its agenda through an “all of government” approach. The all-of-government strategy employs a coordinated, multi-department, multi-agency approach to address particularly complex problems.

The administration’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad established three working groups at the core of the all-of-government strategy. They bring together cabinet members and people in other key positions across numerous federal agencies and departments to address climate change, environmental justice, and related economic revitalization issues.

  • National Climate Task Force: The task force will lead the all-of-government approach and implement federal actions aimed at, among other things, reducing climate pollution, delivering environmental justice, protecting public health, and stimulating job growth. The executive order permits the members of the task force to prioritize action on climate change in their policymaking and budget processes and procurement efforts and their engagement with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.
  • Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization: The working group is charged with coordinating the identification and delivery of federal resources to revitalize communities whose economies are focused on coal, oil, gas, and power plants. Coordination with state, local, and tribal officials; unions; environmental justice organizations; community groups; and other stakeholders will enable the group to assess opportunities to protect the interests of coal and power plant workers.
  • White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council: The executive order provides for a variety of specific actions to be taken, including new agency offices, screening tools, and directives to strengthen and coordinate enforcement. The council has been established to develop strategies to address current and historic environmental injustice and identify clear performance metrics to ensure accountability.

More information can be found in Biden-Harris Administration’s ‘All of Government’ Approach to Addressing Climate Change and Environmental Justice.

Climate Change: Renewable Energy and Emissions

Between executive orders issued during the first week of the new administration and the Earth Day climate change summit that brought together world leaders to share how they are addressing climate change efforts in their countries, the Biden-Harris administration is taking significant steps to create a comprehensive approach to reducing emissions. To achieve the aggressive goals and detailed plans set out by the administration during its first 100 days, we are expecting more regulation, and more actions like executive orders, that can be implemented faster than new legislation.

  • President Biden is expected to establish a national Clean Energy Standard, which will be the first time the United States will establish a national standard requiring utilities to use a specific amount of renewable energy power. His goal is to get energy production to be zero emissions by 2035, and to get to carbon net zero by 2050.
  • The United States announced a 52% reduction in emissions by 2030, which will require significant changes across the country. A large part of that goal rests with how the United States produces energy and delivers that energy to consumers. More information can be found in Biden Sets Ambitious Goal for Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
  • Another major component of President Biden’s plan focuses on extending and expanding tax credits for both renewable energy production and investments. Significant private investment will be required to achieve the targets the administration has laid out and meet the demand for renewable energy nationwide. The investment tax credits are designed to help bring in this investment to renewable energy development. A significant part of the tax credits is a separate credit for energy storage, which had only been allowed as part of a solar project for past tax credits. Incentivizing energy storage projects as standalone developments could be a big change.
  • Manufacturing is also an important part of the plan. The Biden-Harris administration has announced that one way to encourage economic recovery after COVID-19 is through green growth. It is incentivizing the manufacturing of solar panels and wind-related materials in the United States to encourage a migration from purchasing those materials from Chinese manufacturers.

More information can be found in Achieving Energy Goals in the ‘New Abnormal.’

Climate Change: Electric Vehicles

The Biden-Harris administration is widely considered to be a catalyst for facilitation of continued electric vehicle (EV) deployment on US roads. To date, Biden has emphasized his administration’s support for continued growth of EVs in two ways: through the issuance of Executive Order No. 14008 and through the White House’s proposed American Jobs Plan.

Executive Order No. 14008, issued in January, addresses, among other things, procurement of a federal EV fleet. Under Section 205 of the order, President Biden mandated the development of a comprehensive plan that would aim to use all available procurement authorities to achieve or facilitate clean and zero-emission vehicles for federal, state, local, and tribal government fleets.

In the American Jobs Plan, the White House proposes a $174 billion investment to spur the development of EVs and charging infrastructure. Through that investment, the plan would establish grant and incentive programs to develop a network of 500,000 charging stations, and would aim to replace or otherwise electrify 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and 20% of existing school buses nationwide with EVs.

The American Jobs Plan also proposes funding to electrify the federal fleet of vehicles, including US Postal Service vehicles, and proposes the continuation of certain tax incentives and creation of new point-of-sale rebates for purchasers of EVs made in the United States.

More information can be found in Legal Issues Facing Electric Vehicles Charging Projects.

Economy: Tax Changes

President Biden, his administration, and Congress are focused on long-term economic recovery, deficit reduction, and tax reform. Current proposals cover a broad range of tax policy issues, from raising the corporate income tax rate to reforming…

Read More: Biden-Harris Administration’s First 100 Days Expose Priorities, Lay Groundwork