Federal Government



Do all citizens have a right to a hospitable climate? Can legislation be passed to mitigate the consequences of greenhouse gases? How do regulations (or deregulations) have the power to promote sustainable practices and curb emissions, or do the reverse? Are high-emitting corporations liable for climate-related damages? Where does the judicial system come into play? Climate change has pushed these questions to the forefront of our national conversation. They all highlight the integral role of our government in confronting climate change and the critical need for policies.

As a nation we have three branches of government with separate but interrelated responsibilities. This “separation of powers” was intended to prevent one governmental body from gaining too much power and becoming autocratic.

Our federal laws are created by Congress (the legislative branch) which is comprised of the Senate (2 Senators from every state) and the House (there are currently 435 representatives, a number fixed by law since 1911, representing each state in proportion to the size of the state’s population).

The laws, once passed by both House and Senate and signed into law by the President, are carried out by the executive branch, which also has the power to regulate and deregulate, as well as to issue executive orders. The President, supported by the Vice President, department heads (cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies such as the EPA make up the executive branch.

The third branch is the judicial system wherein the courts retain responsibility for interpreting the laws that have been passed by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States.


Democrats ask DOJ to investigate Big Oil

By Emily Atkin 05/22/24
The Democrats leading the years-long congressional investigation into Big Oil’s climate deception are formally asking the Department of Justice to step in.
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DOJ must investigate Big Oil’s “ongoing enterprise,” lawmakers say

By Emily Sanders 05/22/24
The leaders of a years-long Congressional probe into Big Oil’s decades-long climate disinformation campaigns just formally referred their investigation to the Department of Justice, calling on the nation’s biggest public law office to “pursue further…
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How the US government began its decade-long campaign against the anti-pipeline movement

By Adam Federman 02/14/24
On the morning of March 5, 2012, Debra White Plume received an urgent phone call. A convoy of large trucks transporting pipeline servicing equipment was attempting to cross the Pine Ridge Reservation near the town…
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U.S. Spending on Clean Energy and Tech Spurs Allies to Compete

By Ana Swanson and Others 12/07/23
The United States has embarked on the biggest industrial policy push in generations, dangling tax breaks, grants and other financial incentives to attract new factories making solar panels, semiconductors and electric vehicles.
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Q&A: Whitehouse on Big Oil probe, committee plans

By Emma Dumain 04/26/23
Senate Budget Chair Sheldon Whitehouse has used his new perch to make the case for climate action.
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Former House Oversight chairwoman breaks silence on Big Oil probe

By Maxine Joselow 03/08/23
Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! Happy International Women’s Day and happy hump day. Today we’re reading about why airlines want to charge you for flying on french-fry oil. 🍟
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Jimmy Carter Signed 14 Major Environmental Bills and Foresaw the Threat of Climate Change

By Jonathan Alter 03/03/23
From “His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life”  by Jonathan Alter. Copyright © 2020 by Jonathan Alter. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. This year’s wildfires and hurricanes leave no doubt that climate…
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Senate overturns federal rule on ESG investments, Biden vows to veto

By Christina Wilkie 03/01/23
The Senate on Wednesday voted to overturn a Labor Department rule that permits fiduciary retirement fund managers to consider climate change, good corporate governance and other factors when making investments on behalf of pension plan…
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Biden wants ‘green’ economy, but talks fail to revive key aluminum plant

By Steven Mufson 12/16/22
An equity fund, unions and Washington’s governor all wanted to restart an idle factory needed for the auto industry, but a federal power agency has balked
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Why the government fails to limit many dangerous chemicals in the workplace

By Sharon Lerner 12/15/22
Before his shift at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Niagara Falls, N.Y., in May 2021, a worker peed in a cup. Before he clocked out, he did it again. Goodyear shipped both specimens…
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Biden Casts America as Climate Leader and Promises a ‘Low-Carbon Future’

By Lisa Friedman and Jim Tankersley 11/11/22
President Biden appeared before an overflowing United Nations convention on Friday to reclaim America’s role as a leader on climate change and to stress a renewed U.S. commitment to stop the planet from catastrophic warming.
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Biden pushes to require big federal contractors to cut climate pollution

Maxine Joselow   11/11/22  
Federal suppliers would also have to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and the climate change risks they face under the proposed rule.
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Pelosi accuses Republicans of treating climate crisis like ‘it’s all a hoax’ at Cop27

By Oliver Milman and Nina Lakhani   11/10/22  
Nancy Pelosi has accused Republicans of treating the climate crisis like “it’s all a hoax” while at the Cop27 climate talks in Egypt, where the US delegation is attempting to remain upbeat about continued progress…
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Nations converge to address climate change

By Lisa Friedman   11/04/22  
World leaders will gather in Egypt next week to confront climate change at a moment of colliding crises: a war in Europe that has upended energy markets, rising global inflation, deep political divisions in many…
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See everything the White House wanted, and everything it got

By Aatish Bhatia, Francesca Paris and Margot Sanger-Katz   10/20/22  
The first two years of the Biden administration have included huge legislative victories: a major bipartisan infrastructure deal, a technology bill, a veterans’ health bill, a gun safety bill, and a package of new investments…
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Federal government fires up website all about heat

By Lisa Friedman   07/26/22  
The Biden administration unveiled a website on Tuesday to help Americans stay safe from extreme heat, as scorching temperatures continued to grip portions of the country...
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Which elected leaders should do more on climate?

By Mira Rojanasakul and Catrin Einhorn   07/19/22  
It’ll take some time to understand how Americans view last week’s collapse of climate legislation in Congress, but previous data holds some clues. When asked which elected officials should do more on climate, Americans point…
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Top Biden aide prods big tech to crack down on climate misinformation

By Ben Geman   06/09/22  
Gina McCarthy, President Biden's top domestic climate adviser, said tech companies should do more to prevent the spread of inaccurate information about climate change and clean energy.
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Biden to pause new solar tariffs as White House encourages adoption

By Ana Swanson, David Gelles and Jim Tankersley   06/06/22  
The Commerce Department had been considering whether to impose the tariffs as part of a trade case against Chinese companies.
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Biden to invoke Defense Production Act for clean energy

By Ben Geman and Andrew Freedman   06/06/22  
President Biden will shield solar project developers from the costs of potential trade penalties and offer new federal support for domestic panel manufacturing, the White House said Monday.
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Strengthening Blue Carbon Solutions in US Ocean Policy

By Anne Christianson   06/06/22  
Nature is increasingly recognized as foundational to climate action, especially the push to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The climate…
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Biden administration to cut costs for wind and solar energy projects

By Lisa Friedman   06/01/22  
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the government would sharply reduce the fees it charges to companies that operate on public lands.
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House Republicans to introduce climate change strategy, eye on midterms

By Josh Siegel   06/01/22  
The strategy released by House Republicans contains few new policy ideas and is meant instead to provide a high-level overview of how the party would address the challenges of record-high energy prices worsened by Russia’s…
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Supreme Court allows Biden climate regulations while fight continues

By Robert Barnes and Anna Phillips   05/26/22  
The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the Biden administration, for now, to use a higher estimate for the societal cost of rising greenhouse gases when federal agencies draft regulations.
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House panel will investigate USPS plan to purchase 8.6 mpg trucks

By Jacob Bogage   05/12/22  
State attorneys general and top environmental groups have already sued the Postal Service to block the $11.3 billion truck contract.
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Do not use Ukraine war to defer climate goals, warns Mark Carney

By Kalyeena Makortoff   05/11/22  
The former Bank of England governor said he recognised the impact sanctions on Russia were having on global energy supplies and the cost of living, but added that governments could not afford to derail climate…
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SEC extends deadline for public to comment on climate risk proposal

By Rachel Frazin   05/09/22  
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) extended how long the public will have to weigh in on a proposal that would require companies to reveal their vulnerabilities and contributions to climate change.
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White House alarmed that Commerce probe is ‘smothering’ solar industry

By Evan Halper   05/07/22  
Top climate officials in the Biden administration are warning that a federal investigation into alleged dodging of tariffs by Chinese suppliers has put the domestic solar industry in peril just as the United States is…
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A top energy regulator is in turmoil over climate rules

By Anna Phillips and Tyler Pager   04/27/22  
In February, a little-known federal agency for the first time laid down rules requiring energy regulators to consider new gas pipelines’ effects on climate change and environmental justice. The agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…
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Gov. Whitmer wants federal aid to keep nuclear plant open

By Jennifer McDermott   04/21/22  
Michigan’s Democratic governor wants a nuclear power plant on Lake Michigan to stay open and she’s asking the federal government to pay for it. But the owner of the Palisades Power Plant says it’s too…
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Biden restores climate safeguards in key environmental law

By Dino Grandoni and Anna Phillips   04/19/22  
A final rule announced Tuesday by the White House will require agencies to assess the climate impact of roads, pipelines and other infrastructure.
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United States Pledges $600 Million to Combat Global Environmental Threats

On April 8, the United States pledged $600.8 million over the next four years to support the eighth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-8). This is the United States’ largest GEF pledge ever. This…
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Interior Department to resume oil and gas leasing, charge higher fees

By Anna Phillips   04/15/22  
As pressure increases on the Biden administration to lower the price of fuel, the Interior Department announced on Friday plans to hold its first onshore oil and gas lease sales since President Biden took office.
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Climate change could cost U.S. budget $2 trln a year by end century

By Timothy Gardner   04/04/22  
Flood, fire, and drought fueled by climate change could take a massive bite out of the U.S. federal budget per year by the end of the century, the White House said in its first ever…
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Biden Invokes Cold War Statute to Boost Critical Mineral Supply

By Ana Swanson   03/31/22  
President Biden took steps on Thursday to try to increase domestic production of critical minerals and metals needed for advanced technologies like electric vehicles, in an attempt to reduce America’s reliance on foreign suppliers.
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Biden administration announces new funding to make homes energy-efficient

By Anna Phillips   03/30/22  
Amid surging inflation and energy price spikes, the Biden administration on Wednesday announced plans to spend roughly $3.2 billion to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes in low-income communities with the aim of slashing Americans’…
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Government Sets Carbon Limits on Concrete for Federal Projects

By Arianna Skibell   03/30/22  
The procurement arm of the federal government is imposing new limitations on high carbon-emitting building materials for all its major projects, a move that will affect billions of dollars of federal infrastructure investments.
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Here’s what Biden’s budget would do, and not do, for climate change

By Somini Sengupta   03/29/22  
On Day 1 of his presidency, Joseph R. Biden Jr. brought the United States back into the global climate accord. His administration made bold pledges to cut emissions. It urged other countries to set ambitious…
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Inside Biden’s $5.8 trillion wish list

By Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jason Karaian, Stephen Gandel, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni   03/29/22  
President Biden proposed a $5.8 trillion annual budget yesterday, a request that reflects growing security and economic concerns at home and abroad. There are billions set aside to invest in police departments and the military,…
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US pipeline agency pulls back plan to assess climate impacts

By Matthew Daly   03/25/22  
Amid pushback from industry groups and lawmakers in both parties, federal energy regulators on Thursday scaled back plans to consider how natural gas projects affect climate change and environmental justice.
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FERC walks back pipeline policies changes, approves three pipeline projects

By Catherine Morehouse   03/24/22  
In an abrupt about-face after weeks of blowback, FERC voted unanimously on Thursday to solicit input and consider changes to its revamped policy statements that brought additional climate and environmental justice scrutiny to new fossil…
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Opinion: We’re in a fossil fuel war. Biden should say so.

By Farhad Manjoo   03/24/22  
On one hand, it would seem uncontroversial to point out that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a war enabled and exacerbated by the world’s insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. It couldn’t not be so: Russia…
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FEMA is giving homeowners money to prepare for floods — or move away

By Zoya Teirstein   03/23/22  
On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, or FEMA, announced a new pot of funding for victims of flooding in four states that got pummeled when Hurricane Ida slammed into the Gulf Coast last August…
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New SEC climate rule leaves progressives wanting more

By Rachel Frazin and Saul Elbein   03/23/22  
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took a long-sought step this week by proposing to require that publicly traded companies disclose their direct and indirect climate change contributions, but advocates are pointing to loopholes they…
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American companies can’t sugarcoat their carbon pollution anymore

Robinson Meyer   03/23/22  
On Monday, the SEC announced that it would add another layer to this set of essential disclosures, requiring companies to also release information about their climate risks. Starting next fiscal year, the country’s largest public…
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The SEC wants companies to disclose how climate change is affecting them

By David Gura   03/21/22  
Every year, public companies in the U.S. are required to provide investors and regulators with detailed data about their financial performance and the risks they face. Soon, they may also have to disclose information about…
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U.S. International Climate Finance: FY2022

U.S. International Climate Finance Over the past several decades, to varying degrees, the
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Sarah Bloom Raskin withdraws her nomination to the Fed Board

By Jane Mayer   03/15/22  
Biden’s nominee had publicly encouraged measures to mitigate climate change, including a transition to cleaner energy, which triggered a backlash from America’s powerful oil, gas, and coal industries.
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SEC plans to force public companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions

By Douglas MacMillan and Maxine Joselow   03/15/22  
From Coca-Cola to Tesla, companies report emissions in widely different ways. A new federal rule is expected to standardize climate disclosures, putting the U.S. on closer footing with other countries.
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Manchin won’t support Raskin for the Fed, imperiling her nomination.

By Emily Cochrane and Jeanna Smialek   03/14/22  
Senator Joe Manchin III, a key centrist Democrat, announced on Monday that he would not support Sarah Bloom Raskin for a top position on the Federal Reserve, potentially dooming her chances for confirmation as Republicans…
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Democrats Want Investigation Into Postal Service’s Gas Guzzlers Contract

By Lisa Friedman   03/14/22  
A group of House Democrats called Monday for an investigation into a decision by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to purchase up to 165,000 gasoline-powered mail trucks over the Biden administration’s objections that the multibillion-dollar contract…
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EPA plans sweeping regulatory strategy for power plants

By Ethan Howland   03/11/22  
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to issue a series of proposals covering air, water and waste pollution from power generators, especially coal-fired power plants, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Thursday.
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Why aren’t U.S. oil companies increasing production faster?

Gas prices have of $4.318 per gallon as of Thursday morning (not ), with the prospect of going even higher.
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AP Source: Biden to ban Russian oil imports over Ukraine war

By Zeke Miller, Mike Balsamo, and Josh Boak   03/09/22  
President Joe Biden has decided to ban Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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Biden administration moves to cut smog-forming pollution from trucks

By Dino Grandoni   03/07/22  
The Environmental Protection Agency proposes curbing nitrogen oxide and carbon pollution amid an online shopping boom, but some environmentalists call for stricter limits
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Supreme Court hears case on EPA GHGs regulation

By Lexi Smith   03/07/22  
Oral arguments held February 28 gave attorneys on both sides of West Virginia v. EPA, which concerns the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses, the chance to present their case before the Justices of the…
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Russian invasion offers GOP a new opening to slam Biden’s climate plan

By Ben Lefebvre and Zack Colman   03/02/22  
Democrats are calling foul, saying the choice between shifting away from fossil fuels and fighting Putin is a false one.
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Full transcript of Biden’s State of the Union address

President Biden delivered his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday to a joint session of Congress. The following is a transcript of his remarks, as recorded by The New York Times.
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Statements from the White House Office on Science and Technology

“Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report documenting the consequences of climate change for our planet, our nation, and our communities. It provides two clear messages. First, climate change has…
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Treasury to Host Virtual Roundtable on State and Local Efforts to Address Climate Change

The U.S. Department of the Treasury will host a virtual roundtable, entitled The Climate Transition: Federal Policy and State and Local Government Best Practices, on Thursday, March 3, 2022. The roundtable will open at 10:00…
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DOE Releases First-Ever Comprehensive Strategy to Secure America’s Clean Energy Supply Chain

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released America’s first comprehensive plan to ensure security and increase our energy independence. The sweeping report, “America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy…
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