President Joe Biden celebrated Earth Day on Friday by ordering protections for the ancient forests of the United States, seen as a crucial weapon in the fight against climate change, during a trip to Seattle.
The Democrat campaigned heavily for environmental protection and US leadership in the response to global warming, but has regularly struggled with a lack of congressional support.
Its executive order, signed in the wooded and often extraordinarily wild state of Washington state, will recognize the importance of ancient American forests in regulating climate change, but also their vulnerability in an era of intensifying fires.
In order, Biden requires officials overseeing federal lands to inventory mature forests within a year and identify threats to the trees.
“American forests are a key climate solution, absorbing carbon dioxide equivalent to more than 10 percent of the United States’ annual greenhouse gas emissions,” the White House said in a statement.
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“The federal lands are home to many of the nation’s mature and ancient forests, which serve as critical carbon sinks, precious landscapes and unique habitats.
“However, these magnificent ecosystems are threatened by the climate impacts that are already here, with the intensification of the fires requiring urgent action to protect our forests and the economies that depend on them.”
During his presidency, Biden set ambitious environmental goals and quickly reversed his Republican predecessor Donald Trump’s move to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accords.
However, with a barely functional majority in Congress, he saw that major environmental policy initiatives did not take off.
Many of Biden’s biggest pushes have come through executive orders, which don’t require congressional approval but can be overruled by the next president.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration said it was restoring Trump-weakened safeguards, including a requirement to assess the climate impacts of infrastructure projects.
This will play a key role in the wave of public works set to take place across the country under the successful White House-approved $ 1 trillion infrastructure spending bill.