Pollution from smokestacks filling the air at the Boise Cascade Paper Plant in Rumford, Maine

January 27, 2021

By LILY BOHLKE, PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE – ME

AUGUSTA, Maine — President Joe Biden will sign a bundle of executive orders on January 27, reversing more Trump-administration rollbacks and setting new goals.

The orders range from protecting public lands, waters and coasts, to reining in corporate pollution.

He also plans to establish a National Climate Task Force and add an Office of Climate Change in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ivan Fernandez, professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and School of Forest Resources, thinks an aggressive approach to tackling climate change is long overdue.

“We see sea-level rise, and wildfires, and droughts, and Lyme disease and other human health concerns, and deer ticks, and you name it,” Fernandez outlined. “We know we are, every day, dealing with the consequences and adapting to climate change.”

The executive orders also seek to bring environmental justice to low-income, Black, Brown and Indigenous communities who’ve been disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. And the orders direct investments into clean energy, which research shows can lead to long-term economic growth.

Fernandez predicted these measures will help support Maine’s own efforts to curb the consequences of the warming climate, and pointed to the governor’s first major climate mitigation and adaptation plan.

“It’s never more important now than now to invest every dollar as wisely as possible, based on science, that moves us towards the future,” Fernandez contended. “And it’s a lot easier to do that when you have a partner at the federal level.”

He sees the Biden team’s science-based approach as a key difference from the previous administration, which rolled back more than 100 environmental protections.

Fernandez added he hopes it signals a transitional period for U.S. leadership on climate-change policy.

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