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Biden Executive Orders Target Environmental and Regulatory Rollbacks of Trump Era

  • President Biden issues 15 executive orders on his first day in office, with additional orders on COVID-19 response issued soon after
  • Emphasis placed on environmental issues and regulations, with a revocation of several Trump era actions
  • Biden also makes commitments to racial equity, non-discriminatory practices, immigration reforms

President Joe Biden has issued a flurry of executive orders and other actions in his first two days in office, including eight orders on COVID-19 response issued Thursday. The White House has indicated that further actions can be expected in the coming weeks, including many set to reverse policies put in place during President Donald Trump’s administration.

Biden’s actions include an extension on eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, continuing a pause on student loan payments through Sept. 30, nixing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and travel ban to predominantly Muslim countries, and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accord and World Health Organization.

The executive orders also demonstrate how regulatory reform an environmental action will be key priorities for the new administration.


The White House has indicated that it has plans to undo more than 100 Trump era actions that it regards as harmful to the environment. A lengthy executive order, on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” orders a review of all federal agency actions taken during the Trump administration to identify which ones are inconsistent with Biden’s commitment to “listen to the science” and “improve public health and protect our environment.”

This order explicitly revokes eight of Trump’s executive orders, while partially revoking another and suspending one for 90 days. These actions often involved the fast-tracking of environmental reviews on infrastructure and other projects; others promoted offshore oil and gas exploration, called for a review of national monument designations, and sought to review and rescind certain energy and climate policies.

Biden has also rescinded the Council on Environmental Policy’s draft guidance on greenhouse gas emissions, issued in June 2019. He is asking that the Council update the final guidance it issued in August 2016, when President Barack Obama was in office and Biden was serving as Vice President.

Among the Trump administration actions that will come under review is a June 2020 decision to lift restrictions on commercial fishing at the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. This site, located off the coast of New England, was designated by Obama in 2016 as the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.


Several of Biden’s actions target regulatory rollbacks put in place during Trump’s administration. White House chief of staff Ron Klain has asked that federal agencies should propose or issue no new rule until a department or agency head has been appointed or designated. He has also asked for a a withdrawal of any rules that have been submitted to the Office of the Federal Register but not yet published, and a delay in the implementation of any published rules until they can be further reviewed. Klain is asking the agencies to submit recommendations on any rules that should be excluded if the negatively affect the “critical health, safety, environmental, financial, or national security matters.”

Biden has terminated six of Trump’s executive orders on federal regulation, most notably one that requires two regulations to be repealed for any one new regulation while also preventing regulatory costs for increasing. A separate order directs the Office of Management and Budget to make recommendations on improving and modernizing the regulatory review process, including changes to better “promote public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.”

Other orders

One order commits to racial equity, asking federal departments to assess where their policies and programs perpetuate systemic racial inequities and how they can be addressed. It suggests that closing racial gaps in access to housing, lending, and higher education can grow the nation’s GDP by $5 trillion over the course of five years.

An order revising civil immigration enforcement policies and priorities revokes a Trump order that sought to step up immigration enforcement and punish “sanctuary cities” by withholding federal grants. This order was put into place five days into Trump’s presidency, but was declared unconstitutional in November 2017. Biden is asking for a review of all agency actions developed under the order.

Biden has also committed to enforcing prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in federal agencies.

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