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New US strategy would quickly free billions of climate funds

WASHINGTON – Federal officials showing how fast the Biden administration is revising climate policy after years of denial under former President Donald J. Trump, aim to free up to $ 10 billion to Federal Management Agency emergencies to protect against climate disasters before they strike.

The agency, best known for responding to hurricanes, floods and wildfires, wants to spend the money to preemptively protect itself from damage by building dikes, raising or relocating flood-prone homes, and taking further action as climate change intensifies storms and other natural disasters. .

“It would eclipse all previous grant programs like this,” said Daniel Kaniewski, former FEMA deputy administrator and now managing director of Marsh & McLennan Companies, a consultancy firm.

FEMA’s plan would use a budgeting maneuver to re-use a portion of the agency’s overall disaster spending towards projects designed to protect against damage from climate disasters, according to people familiar with the discussions within the organization. the agency.

Over the past year, FEMA has played a leading role in the fight against Covid-19 – and the agency’s plan is to count Covid spending towards the formula used to redirect money to climate projects. This would allow the Biden administration to rapidly and significantly increase funding for climate resilience without congressional action, generating a windfall that could increase funding six-fold.

Michael M. Grimm, FEMA Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Disaster Mitigation, said the agency’s initial estimates suggested up to $ 3.7 billion could be available for the program, called Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC. By comparison, this program has so far only $ 500 million to provide in grants.

More than $ 3.7 billion “may be available,” Grimm said in a statement.

But the amount of new money could potentially reach $ 10 billion, by some estimates, if FEMA also decides to count Covid dollars in a similar fund, the Risk Mitigation Grants Program, designed to help communities rebuild after a disaster. Mr Grimm said the decision to provide this funding has yet to be made.

The proposal would not necessarily reduce the money available to fight Covid, according to people familiar with the plan. Rather, it would give FEMA the ability to leverage additional resilience funds from the government’s dedicated disaster fund, which Congress regularly replenishes once the fund is used up.

FEMA’s plan is expected to be approved by the White House budget office. After Mr Biden’s victory, members of his transition team said they saw the new funding as a way for the new administration to deliver on its pledge to tackle climate change.

White House spokesman Vedant Patel did not respond to requests for comment.

The proposal marks an effort by the Biden administration to address what experts call climate adaptation – an area of ​​climate policy that differs from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and focuses on better protecting people. people, homes and communities from the consequences of global warming. These include more frequent and severe storms, flooding and forest fires, as well as rising waters.

The United States has a mixed record in this regard.

In many coastal states, homebuilding is increasing fastest in areas most prone to flooding, including places that may soon be underwater. And despite strong public support for stricter building codes in high-risk areas, only a third of local jurisdictions have disaster-resistant provisions in their building codes.

In the face of rapidly escalating disaster costs, the Trump administration has taken some steps to make communities more resilient to the effects of climate change, although it has refrained from using the term. FEMA and other agencies have focused more on getting people to move away from vulnerable areas, rather than always paying them to rebuild there. And the agency urged Congress to create the BRIC program to help cities and states improve their preparedness before a disaster, rather than after.

But federal officials were also stymied by Mr. Trump’s insistence that climate change was overkill.

In 2018, when FEMA released its four-year strategic plan to deal with disasters, the words “climate change” were nowhere to be found. Faced year after year with record-breaking California wildfires, Mr Trump said the problem was too many leaves on the forest floor. Saying that rising temperatures are exacerbating the problem, Mr Trump replied, “It’s going to start to get cooler. You just – you just watch.

As a candidate, Mr Biden has pledged to focus on climate adaptation. And on his first day as president, he signed an order imposing higher construction standards for buildings or infrastructure in flood-prone areas that are built with federal money. The order, first imposed by President Barack Obama, was rescinded by Mr. Trump.

Mr Biden’s decision has been hailed by disaster groups. “This action restores forward-looking policy that will help ensure that taxpayer dollars are not washed away by the next flood,” said Forbes Tompkins, who works on federal flood policy with the Pew Charitable Trusts , an advocacy group, in a statement. .

But sending billions of dollars in new money into FEMA disaster programs would go further than simply restoring the coping policies of the Obama era. The BRIC program was created in the aftermath of the brutal disaster season of 2017, when the United States was hit in succession by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as wildfires in California then the worst ever. recorded. Federal disaster spending has skyrocketed.

Months later, federal researchers reported that for every dollar the government spent to protect a community before a disaster, it saved $ 6 later. In 2018, Congress created the program to take advantage of these savings by providing more money up front. The first grants were to be awarded this year.

If the White House Biden approves the plan, it can find allies in Congress, even among Republicans.

Using Covid funds to increase that money has received bipartisan support in Congress in the past. In October, Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democratic chairman of the House Transport and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over FEMA, sent a letter to the agency urging it to use Covid money .

This letter was co-signed by Representative Sam Graves, the committee’s senior Republican. But FEMA was unable to get clearance from the Trump administration’s budget office, according to former officials.

The new money would present challenges, according to people familiar with the program. State and local governments must provide 25% of the cost of all projects, a particularly significant hurdle as the economic downturn from Covid has devastated government budgets. And these officials would have to design projects on a scale large enough to use the new funds.

Still, the additional funding is worth pursuing, said Mr. Kaniewski, the former FEMA official. “The more dollars for mitigation, the better,” he says. “It’s about as good a taxpayer investment as you can find.”

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Biden pledges to reopen schools quickly. It won’t be easy.

During his first 48 hours in office, President Biden sought to project an optimistic message about the return of the many homebound students to classrooms. “We can teach our children in safe schools,” he pledged in his inaugural address.

The next day, Mr Biden signed an executive order promising to put the strength of the federal government behind an effort to “reopen the doors of schools as quickly as possible.”

But with about half of America’s college students still practically learning as the pandemic nears its first birthday, the president’s push is far from certain to succeed. His plan is unfolding just as the local battles for the reopening have become fiercer in recent weeks.

Teachers do not know exactly when they will be vaccinated and fear contagion. With an alarming number of cases across the country and new variants of the coronavirus emerging, unions are battling efforts to fire their members into crowded hallways. Their reluctance comes even as school administrators, mayors and some parents feel an increased urgency to restore educational activities as usual for the millions of students who are struggling academically and emotionally.

Given the seemingly intractable health and work issues, some district officials have started saying out loud what was previously unthinkable: that schools may not function normally for the 2021-2022 school year. And some union leaders are seeking to lower expectations raised by Mr Biden’s words.

“We don’t know if a vaccine stops transmissibility,” said Randi Weingarten, the powerful president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second largest teachers’ union.

Some virus experts, however, have said there is reason to be optimistic on this issue.

Ms Weingarten said that one of the keys to returning teachers to classrooms in the coming months would be the promise to allow those with health problems or whose family members have weakened immune systems to continue. to work remotely; centralized data collection on the number of Covid-19 cases in specific schools; and assuring districts that they would close schools when cases did arise.

Struggles for these same demands have slowed down and complicated reopening across the country. But Ms Weingarten also indicated that Mr Biden’s efforts to fill classrooms would be welcomed more favorably than those of Donald Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who have been widely vilified by school teachers. public.

“Don’t underestimate the bully’s pulpit,” she said. “Truth and trust are so important.”

Mr Biden’s executive order directs federal agencies to create national guidelines for reopening schools, support the tracing of viral contacts in schools and collect data measuring the impact of the pandemic on students. The White House is also pushing a stimulus package that would provide schools with $ 130 billion for costs like testing for viruses, upgrading ventilation systems and hiring staff.

Principals are eagerly awaiting additional money from Washington, which could run into the thousands of dollars per student. But they stress that it will be just as important for federal officials to directly address the in-person work anxiety that has swept through faculty and been given an influential voice in places where unions teachers are powerful.

The Trump administration has fueled this anxiety by demanding the opening of schools while issuing vague and contradictory guidelines on how to do so safely.

Robert Runcie, superintendent of public schools in Broward County in South Florida, the nation’s sixth largest district, said he would like to see Dr.Anthony Fauci hold a press conference to discuss schools and “alleviate the fear of people ”.

Broward does not do surveillance tests, but has published a dashboard tracing known cases of the virus in its schools – around 2,000 among students and staff since the system reopened in October, serving about a third of its 260,000 students in person. Contact tracing suggested that only 10% of those cases could have been caused by transmission in schools, Mr Runcie said, and that the majority of those transmissions were likely related to athletics.

This is in line with other research suggesting that measures such as masks can effectively mitigate the spread of the virus in schools.

The district forced some teachers with health problems to return to school buildings earlier this month, to avoid a situation where some students were learning online, even in school buildings. In response, the local union sued; the matter is currently in arbitration. Bus drivers, food service workers, wardens and district employees work full time without complaint, Runcie said.

The system lost 9,000 students this year as parents sought alternatives to virtual education. If some families choose to stay in private and chartered schools permanently, district funding could plummet, forcing layoffs, Runcie warned. He argued that the union’s struggle was shortsighted.

Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, said most teachers in the county are ready to get the shot and work in person following this with safety precautions in place. Florida, like the majority of states, has yet to make teachers eligible for the vaccine.

Disputes over teachers’ health exemptions are also at the heart of Chicago, where the union has threatened to refuse to work in person due to what it claims to be unsanitary conditions in school buildings, which the district is currently reopening by steps.

Kenzo Shibata, a high school civics and English teacher, was denied a request to continue working remotely. His wife has breast cancer and is about to start chemotherapy again. He also manages distance learning for his second grade son, a neighborhood student.

Mr. Shibata, an official with the Chicago Teachers Union, said he would be ready to return to class after being vaccinated, even if his students were not yet vaccinated. The district has promised to distribute vaccines directly to educators from February.

But Mr. Shibata suggested that a safer course of action would be to postpone in-person learning until the fall, especially given the reluctance of black and Latino parents in Chicago to send their children home. school. He was skeptical, he added, of President Biden’s willingness to reopen schools within 100 days.

“I think it’s arbitrary and a political statement, not an educational statement or a scientific or health statement,” he said. “It doesn’t inspire much confidence in me.”

Under the Trump administration, unions and public school advocates argued that schools could only reopen with a huge infusion of federal funds to purchase sanitation equipment, smaller classrooms to maintain social distancing, and hire nurses and psychologists.

The money is starting to flow, but Marguerite Roza, a school finance expert at Georgetown University, said it was perhaps even more important for the federal government to build the capacity of districts to negotiate forcefully with their students. unions.

The Biden administration could set a clear threshold for virus transmission in the community, below which it would advise schools to stay open, Dr Roza said, or even require them to do so in order to access federal dollars.

Research has highlighted the potential of making schools operate safely before teachers and students are vaccinated, provided that practices such as wearing masks are followed, and especially when transmission rates and hospitalizations in the community are monitored.

Tying the stimulus money to opening schools might be a more onerous strategy than the new Democratic administration is comfortable with, especially given the reluctance of unions. A White House spokesperson said on Friday that partnership and cooperation with teachers’ unions would be essential for the successful reopening of schools.

But Mr Biden could also tackle teacher anxiety by speaking directly to the grassroots.

“The money supply? I don’t know if that will really be what keeps people coming back right now, ”Dr Roza said. “The fear is real.”

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Trump, who rejected legislative achievement for executive action, has his program quickly canceled.

As President Donald J. Trump boarded the plane back to Florida on Wednesday, he called his administration’s political achievements sweeping, ambitious and, most importantly, lasting – but the destruction of his legacy was about to come. to begin.

“We have accomplished so much together,” he told a crowd of his supporters. “We were not a regular administration.”

Many of Mr. Trump’s proudest accomplishments were not enshrined in law, but were instead transcribed by executive order, making them vulnerable to overthrow the moment he left office.

And that’s exactly what happened. In his first 72 hours in office, President Biden issued about two dozen executive orders, using the process not to build a legacy, as Mr. Trump had attempted, but to demolish.

Mr. Trump did not master the levers of power and negotiation in Congress, nor was he much interested in the history of his office, which offered lessons on the pitfalls of relying on autonomous presidential power.

In a remarkable interview 10 days before his death in 1973, former President Lyndon B. Johnson explained why he had resisted the temptation to carry out historic civil rights reforms using executive orders. Instead, he followed the more difficult legislative route, seeking to arm his efforts with the force of the law.

Black civil rights leaders “wanted me to issue an executive order and proclaim it by presidential decree,” Mr. Johnson said, of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

But Mr Johnson, a knowledgeable legislative strategist, said he didn’t think the reform “would be very effective if Congress hadn’t legislated.”

Mr. Trump has not always heeded these guidelines – with the possible exception of his criminal justice reform bill – and is paying the price now.

Biden’s list of recoveries is growing but so far includes: restoring the country’s commitment to the World Health Organization, rallying the Paris climate accords, rescinding the ban by Mr. Trump immigration from some Muslim-majority countries, halting construction of the border wall, reviving protections for LGBTQ workers, killing the Keystone XL pipeline license and banning drilling again in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, imposing new ethical rules and rejecting Mr. Trump’s “1776” commission report.

But not all of Mr. Trump’s actions can be quickly reversed. Repealing his signature tax cuts will be a heavy legislative lift, though Biden and his aides have only pledged a partial rollback.

Packing federal courts with conservative judges – plus a joint venture between former White House attorney Donald F. McGahn II and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader – could be Mr. Trump. And Mr. McConnell’s use of congressional runners to repeal certain regulations has given cancellations some force of law that can make them more difficult to override.

Whether Mr Biden himself will be too dependent on executive action remains an open question. In fact, many of the environmental regulations put in place at the end of President Barack Obama’s term were quickly abandoned by Mr. Trump.

But Mr Biden, a former senator who intends to push through a new massive coronavirus relief bill quickly, appears to know the path to completing his agenda leads to legislation, including a set of infrastructure. bipartisanship that Mr. Trump also wanted but never defended. . (For Mr Biden, there are warning signs of hope: a group of 17 Republicans newly elected to the House have signed a letter signaling their intention to negotiate such a package.)

If Mr. Trump needed a more contemporary lesson in presidential power than that of Mr. Johnson, he was to look no further than his predecessor, Mr. Obama, who endured a long and messy process to get his signature. , the Affordable Care Act. .

This law has endured despite Mr. Trump’s repeated efforts to destroy it.

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The Biden administration quickly revamped the White House website. Here’s how.

The occupant of the physical White House has changed – and that of the digital. Here’s a look at how whitehouse.gov has been reorganized since the Biden administration took over:

The contact form on the website has sections for a person’s first and last name, email address, phone number, and an optional category to include pronouns. Options include “her / her”, “he / him”, “them / them”, “other”, and “prefer not to share”.

The second element of the site’s Priorities page, after Covid-19, is the climate. “President Biden will take swift action to address the climate emergency,” the site said. “The Biden administration will ensure that we meet the demands of science, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution.”

Mr. Biden brings with him a large climate team and has installed climate policy experts in state, treasury and transport departments.

Below the menu, “Español” is highlighted in light blue font as a means of navigating the site. From the address “La Casa Blanca 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW” to the privacy policy, the pages of the site are visible in Spanish.

The Trump administration in 2017 removed the translation from the site before promising it would be back soon, but the Spanish version was not available a year later, the Associated Press reported.

A first set of coronavirus guidelines were translated into Spanish on the White House website in March – three days after the English version, and only after pressure from Latino groups, NBC News reported.

Mr Biden’s digital takeover also led to the removal of a web page for a 1776 Commission report by President Donald J. Trump, which historians say distorted the history of state slavery -United, was misleading and was produced in a hurry. The page that previously hosted a PDF of the report now reads “Not Found”. Mr. Biden had said he would cancel the commission.

Hidden in the technical backend of the new site is a message intended for tech experts: “If you’re reading this, we need your help to rebuild better,” read a line in the site’s source code, as noted by Reuters reporter Raphael Satter. The post includes a link to apply to the US Digital Service, a group of technologists working to modernize government services.

Whitehouse.gov now includes a variety of accessibility components, such as high-contrast and wide-format text modes, according to Matt Hodges, director of engineering for the Biden team. An accessibility statement on the site reads: “This commitment to accessibility for all begins with this site and our efforts to ensure that all features and content are accessible to all Americans.”

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Progressive groups urge Biden to act quickly on diverse roster of judges

“The process started earlier so we are ready,” said Nan Aron, chairman of the Alliance for Justice, who, in cooperation with nearly three dozen other groups, gave the team to Biden a list of more than 100 potential candidates. “We’re doing everything we can to make judges a priority.”

In addition to finding perspectives with an ideological contrast to Judges Trump, activists want to diversify the ranks of jurists presiding over a federal court to include more defense attorneys, plaintiff attorneys, civil rights specialists and ‘labor law experts, among others, rather than more traditional white prosecutors and corporate lawyers.

“We just don’t see a reason why it has to be this way,” said Mike Landis, public interest lawyer and member of the Colorado Chapter of the American Constitution Society, of conventional candidate demographics. to justice.

Mr. Landis is among those who took part in a bottom-up effort launched by the organization to identify and screen prospects for district and circuit court judges as well as the best legal jobs in administration. Mr Feingold said 45 groups working in 36 states spent months on the project and nominated 119 appeals courts and 187 district court candidates, as well as nearly 200 candidates for high and mid-level legal jobs. .

The group did not disclose the names of the judicial candidates, but provided demographic breakdowns that demonstrated a range of legal expertise. Of this total, 83 are government or legal aid lawyers, 69 civil rights plaintiffs or lawyers, 52 are academics, 42 are state judges or magistrates, and 25 are public defenders. At the same time, 166 of the 306 are women, 134 are Black, Indigenous or people of color and 186 are under the age of 50.

“We believe there should be a wider range of experiences on the courts,” said Feingold.

Those who have worked closely with Mr Biden over the years believe he too wants the courts to have a different look.

“That he wants intellectual excellence and the ability to judge appropriately is of course obvious,” said Cynthia Hogan, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden in the Senate and White House. “I think what he’s always been looking for are people who have real life experience. He kind of likes to put himself in other people’s shoes.

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Trump campaign lawyers mobilize but are quickly overthrown

In a chaotic effort to overturn the election results, President Trump and lawyers representing his campaign spent weeks arguing without convincing evidence that widespread voter fraud was corrupting the vote count in many battlefield states.

But their lawsuits challenging the outcome have repeatedly failed due to faulty filings, sloppy paperwork, questionable requests from witnesses and lawyers who admitted in court that they were not alleging fraud.

Here are some of the most embarrassing moments.

Days after the election, lawyers for the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County, claiming in part that a number of Republican voters were using Sharpies to mark their ballots, making them unreadable to voters. voting machines and leading to countless votes.

The complaint also included affidavits from several voters and poll observers who said polling officers took advantage of the confusion to overturn votes for Mr. Trump.

But during a hearing on November 12, Kory Langhofer, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, admitted that the complaint was not based on evidence of electoral fraud but rather on a “limited number of cases” of “errors. in good faith ”in the count.

“This is not a fraud case,” Langhofer said. “We are not alleging fraud. We are not saying that anyone is trying to steal the election. “

When questioned, witnesses said repeatedly that they had no reason to believe their ballots or those of other voters had not been counted.

Later in the hearing, Daniel Arellano, the lawyer for the Arizona Democratic Party, questioned Zack Alcyone, one of the witnesses, who admitted he was a business partner of Mr Langhofer.

When asked if he was being paid to testify in the case, Mr. Alcyone said he was unsure.

“Uh, not that I know of, I haven’t discussed it,” he said.

“But can you be?” Asked Mr. Arellano.

“It’s possible, I guess, I’m not sure,” Mr. Alcyone said.

A federal lawsuit brought by conservative lawyer L. Lin Wood Jr. has sought to stop Georgia’s statewide certification of voting, saying systemic issues with the electoral process tainted the results of the State.

Russell J. Ramsland Jr., a cybersecurity worker and expert witness in the case, filed an affidavit on Wednesday claiming his company had discovered evidence of inconsistencies in electronic voting machines. But the inconsistencies he claimed to identify were in districts of Michigan, not Georgia.

The affidavit also mentioned a number of towns and counties in which Mr Ramsland’s analysis pointedly showed that the number of votes cast exceeded the number of eligible voters. But most, if not all, of the places Mr. Ramsland listed appeared to be townships and counties in Minnesota, not Michigan.

In a hearing Thursday, Trump-appointed judge Steven D. Grimberg rebuffed allegations of voter fraud.

“I understand this is your argument, but what is your proof?” he asked after listening to Ray S. Smith III, an attorney for Mr. Wood.

“To stop certification at the 11th hour, literally, would create confusion and a denial of the right to vote which, in my opinion, has no basis in fact and in law,” said Justice Grimberg.

He rejected the challenge.

In a Nov. 13 opinion, a Michigan federal judge methodically dismantled the testimony of six witnesses who said they observed irregularities in the vote counting process in Detroit.

Questioning their credibility and knowledge of the electoral process, Judge Timothy M. Kenny noted that the witnesses skipped a briefing that could have answered many of the questions they raised.

Perhaps if the advocates of the plaintiffs’ election candidates had attended the visit to the TCF center counting location on October 29, 2020, the questions and concerns could have been answered before polling day, ”he said. -he writes. “Unfortunately, they did not and, as a result, applicants’ depositors did not have a full understanding” of the postal vote counting process.

In another case targeting postal votes in Michigan, a Trump campaign lawyer appeared to have initially mistakenly filed the lawsuit in a federal claims court in Washington, DC, which lacked the authority to hear it. .

“The complaint is captioned as if it had been filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan,” Judge Elaine D. Kaplan wrote in an order transferring the case to the appropriate court. “Instead, however, it was filed with this court, presumably by accident.”

Anticipating that Pennsylvania would be the tipping point for the election, advocates for the Trump campaign braced for court challenges challenging the votes in several parts of the state.

In recent weeks, however, lawyers have repeatedly admitted, under pressure from judges, that no evidence of electoral fraud had materialized.

In the Federal District Court in Williamsport, Pa., The president’s lead counsel, Rudolph W. Giuliani, broke with his comments outside the courtroom supporting the president’s allegations of widespread fraud.

“This is not a case of fraud,” he told Judge Matthew W. Brann.

During argument in a Montgomery County case on Nov. 10, Jonathan Goldstein, a Trump campaign lawyer, has repeatedly said he also saw no evidence of voter fraud during the vote there. was contested:

THE TRIBUNAL: In your petition, which is right in front of me – and I’ve read it a number of times – you don’t claim that voters or the county council were guilty of fraud, do you? It’s correct?
SIR. GOLDSTEIN: Your honor, accusing people of fraud is an important step. And it’s rare that I call someone a liar, and I don’t call the DNC board or anyone else involved in this liar business. Everyone does it in good faith. The DNC comes in good faith. We’re all just trying to have an election. We think it was a mistake, but we think it is a fatal mistake, and these ballots should not be counted.
THE TRIBUNAL: I understand. I’m asking you a specific question, and I’m looking for a specific answer. Are you claiming that there was fraud in relation to these 592 disputed ballots?
SIR. GOLDSTEIN: To my current knowledge, no.
THE TRIBUNAL: Are you claiming that the voter exerted undue or inappropriate influence on these 592 ballots?
SIR. GOLDSTEIN: To my current knowledge, no.

Lawyers representing the Trump campaign in Bucks County signed court documents on Wednesday informing a judge that there was no evidence of fraud in relation to the ballots they were contesting there.

The campaign had filed a lawsuit in the County Pleadings Court, disputing more than 2,200 ballots as invalid. But in a joint statement of facts with lawyers for the Democratic Party, lawyers for the Trump campaign admitted, “The petitioners are not alleging, and there is no evidence of fraud in connection with the disputed ballots.”

Lawyers also said there was no evidence of “misconduct” or “irregularity” in the election.

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Biden’s education department to act quickly to reverse Betsy DeVos policies

“There is a lot of work to do, but it will be nice to know that there is an education secretary who is thinking about how to protect students from predatory schools instead of the other way around,” Aaron said. Ament, chairman of the National Student Legal Defense Network, which sued the department for its efforts to roll back Obama-era rules on loan cancellation and consumer protection.

The team Mr Biden has appointed to help the education department through the transition has indicated the direction he intends to take.

Leading the team is Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., Who also oversaw the education transition for Mr. Obama in 2008. Ms. Darling-Hammond, education researcher seasoned and decision maker in areas like desegregation, school finances and teacher preparation, were considered a candidate for Mr Biden’s education secretary, but withdrew from the race, claiming she was engaged in her work in California.

The strong representation of the transition team of former Obama-era officials and teacher unions has met with mixed reactions.

Announcing the team, a transition manager said its members had “a solid background in key policy areas” with “a diversity of perspectives essential to tackling the most pressing and complex challenges of the world. America”.

Keri Rodrigues, president of the National Parents Union, which represents low-income parents and parents of color, said the team’s makeup made her fear that the Biden administration could stack the government with people. “ interested in strengthening the status quo. it has failed so many of our children.

“It’s the biggest table right now,” she said of the transition team, “and I don’t see any parent groups, family groups, community groups present. ” She added, “It looks like we’ve come back to the same old man, ‘We’re going to do things for you, not with you.'”

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9 things the Biden administration could do quickly about the environment

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. campaigned on the most ambitious climate platform of any presidential candidate in history, pledging to spend $ 2 trillion over four years to reduce emissions from fossil fuels that warm the planet and convert much of the country to cleaning energy.

The possibility that the Senate could remain under the control of Republicans, who have generally opposed climate legislation, puts the brakes on some of its most important projects. But with or without Democratic Senate scrutiny, the first 100 days of the Biden administration are likely to see a wave of executive action to tackle climate change, as well as major push to insert provisions on climate change. clean energy in legislation that could pass with a bipartisan. coalition.

Here are nine things Mr. Biden could do early on to get the United States back on track in the fight against climate change.

Mr. Biden has been engaged throughout the campaign, and again this week, that on the day he takes office, he will re-commit the United States to join the global climate change agreement. It would only require a letter to the UN and would take effect 30 days later.

Mr Biden said he intended to hold a “world climate summit” to put pressure on the leaders of major industrial nations to more aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Expect the Biden administration to immediately overturn a large number of President Trump’s energy executive orders, particularly a March 2017 order calling on every federal agency to dismantle its climate policy. Several experts said he was likely to replace it with one declaring his administration’s intention to reduce greenhouse gases and asking all government agencies to look for ways to do so.

The Biden administration will most likely push to include clean energy provisions in any new economic stimulus that Congress considers. This could include things like funding research and development for clean energy, money for states to continue expanding into renewable energy, and an extension of tax credits for renewable energy industries.

Developing and finalizing new regulations will take time and, if challenged, may ultimately be overturned by the conservative majority in the Supreme Court. But Mr Biden has indicated that early in his administration he will sign executive orders directing agencies to develop new methane limits for oil and gas wells, restore and strengthen fuel economy standards and to tighten efficiency standards for devices and buildings.

Mr Biden also said he would sign an executive order on his first day in office requiring state-owned companies to disclose the financial risks and greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change in their operations.

Mr Biden is expected to cancel a 2017 executive order to lift restrictions on offshore energy exploration and production. It could also stop the Trump administration’s expedited reviews of pipelines and other fossil fuel projects.

Mr Biden has made tackling the effects of pollution and global warming in low-income communities a central part of his climate plan. In the short term, a Biden administration could create an Environmental Justice Advisory Council to coordinate policies across agencies and take concrete actions such as increasing pollution monitoring in vulnerable communities and creating tools for monitoring. mapping to better understand the disparities.

Mr Biden pledged to take “immediate action to reverse Trump’s assault on United States national treasures,” including major cuts in 2017 to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments , as well as opening up parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. . He said that on the first day of his administration, he would sign an executive order to conserve 30% of the land and water of the United States by 2030.