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The Bears Ears Buttes, part of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Photo: Tim Peterson
Day 1 of the Joe Biden presidency: Actions affecting Indian Country
Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Joe Biden will be hitting the ground running after being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

After arriving at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, the new president will be revoking a permit for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline that is opposed across Indian Country. The oil pipeline will not be able to cross tribal treaty and ancestral territory in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota or South Dakota without the permit.

But the anticipated order is just the start, according to the incoming White House. From restoring the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah to stopping energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, at least on a temporary basis, here are actions being taken on Day 1 of the Joe Bide administration that will impact tribes and their citizens.

• Full Document:
Rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
The president-elect will sign the instrument to rejoin the Paris Agreement. The instrument will be deposited with the United Nations today, and the United States will officially become a Party again 30 days later. The United States will be back in position to exercise global leadership in advancing the objectives of the Agreement.

Roll Back President Trump’s Environmental Actions in Order to Protect Public Health and the Environment and Restore Science
Today, President-elect Biden will sign an Executive Order that takes critical first steps to address the climate crisis, create good union jobs, and advance environmental justice, while reversing the previous administration’s harmful policies.

The order jumpstarts swift, initial action to tackle the climate crisis by:

Directing all executive departments and agencies to immediately review and take appropriate action to address federal regulations and other executive actions taken during the last four years that were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest, including agency actions identified on the attached list; Directing agencies to consider revising vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards, methane emissions standards, and appliance and building efficiency standards to ensure that such standards cut pollution, save consumers money, and create good union jobs;

Directing the Department of Interior to protect our nation’s treasures by reviewing the boundaries and conditions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears, Northeast Canyons, and Seamounts Marine National Monuments and placing a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge;

Re-establishing the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and directing the issuance of an interim social cost of GHG schedule to ensure that agencies account for the full costs of GHG emissions, including climate risk, environmental justice and intergenerational equity; and

Revoking, revising, or replacing additional Executive Orders, Presidential Proclamations, Memoranda, and Permits signed over the past 4 years that do not serve the U.S. national interest, including revoking the Presidential permit granted to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The president-elect’s equity agenda is grounded in advancing racial justice and building back better for communities who have been underserved, including people of color and Americans with disabilities, LGBTQ+ Americans, religious minorities, and rural and urban communities facing persistent poverty.

Everyone across America benefits when we take deliberate steps to become a more just society. Analysis suggests that closing racial gaps in wages, housing credit, lending opportunities, and access to higher education would amount to an additional $5 trillion in gross domestic product in the American economy over the next 5 years, and create millions of new jobs. We are a nation founded on principles of equality and it is in the interest of everyone across the country that the government be intentional in ensuring that its policies reach all of us in an equitable way. By advancing such equity, the federal government can build pathways so that everyone across America has the opportunity to reach their potential.

President-elect Biden will sign executive actions today to:

Launch a Whole-of-Government Initiative to Advance Racial Equity
The president-elect will sign an Executive Order beginning the work of embedding equity across federal policymaking and rooting out systemic racism and other barriers to opportunity from federal programs and institutions. The Executive Order will define equity as the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities, such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; LGBTQ+ persons; people with disabilities; religious minorities, persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise affected by persistent poverty or inequality. The president-elect will:

Establish that advancing equity for all — including people of color and others who have been historically underserved and marginalized — is the responsibility of the whole of our government; Direct every federal agency to undertake a baseline review of the state of equity within their agency and deliver an action plan within 200 days to address unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs;

Launch a new equitable data working group to ensure that federal data reflects the diversity of America; Task the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with working to more equitably allocate federal resources to empower and invest in communities of color and other underserved communities;

Improve the delivery of government benefits and services to ensure that families of all backgrounds across the country can access opportunity, for example by reducing language access barriers;

Study new methods that federal agencies can use to assess whether proposed policies advance equity; Direct agencies to engage with communities who have been historically underrepresented, underserved, and harmed by federal policies.

President-elect Biden has asked Ambassador Susan Rice, as Domestic Policy Advisor, to lead a robust interagency process to hold the federal government accountable for advancing equity for families across America.

In this Executive Order, the president-elect will also rescind the Trump Administration’s 1776 Commission, which has sought to erase America’s history of racial injustice. And, he will revoke President Trump’s damaging executive order limiting the ability of federal government agencies, contractors and even some grantees from implementing important and needed diversity and inclusion training. Additional actions in the coming weeks will restore and reinvigorate the federal government’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Reverse President Trump’s Executive Order Excluding Undocumented Immigrants from the Reapportionment Count
President-elect Biden will sign an Executive Order to revoke the prior Administration’s orders setting out an unlawful plan to exclude noncitizens from the census and apportionment of Congressional representatives. President-elect Biden will ensure that the Census Bureau has time to complete an accurate population count for each state. He will then present to Congress an apportionment that is fair and accurate so federal resources are efficiently and fairly distributed for the next decade.

Stop Border Wall Construction
Bipartisan majorities in Congress refused in 2019 to fund President Trump’s plans for a massive wall along our southern border, even after he shut down the government over this issue. He then wastefully diverted billions of dollars to that construction. By proclamation, President-elect Biden will today declare an immediate termination of the national emergency declaration that was used as a pretext to justify some of the funding diversions for the wall. The proclamation directs an immediate pause in wall construction projects to allow a close review of the legality of the funding and contracting methods used, and to determine the best way to redirect funds that were diverted by the prior Administration to fund wall construction.

• Full Document:
In accordance with the forthcoming executive order — titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” — the following federal agency actions are being reviewed.

Note: This list is non-exhaustive and non-exclusive.

“Guidance Document Procedures,” 86 Fed. Reg. 1279 (January 8, 2021).

“Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act,” 85 Fed. Reg. 43304 (July 16, 2020).

“Special Areas; Roadless Area Conservation; National Forest System Lands in Alaska,” 85 Fed. Reg. 68688 (October 29, 2020).

“Prohibition on Settlement Payments to Non-Governmental Third Parties,” 85 Fed. Reg. 81409 (December 16, 2020).

U.S. Department of the Interior, M-37056: Status of Mineral Ownership Underlying the Missouri River within the Boundaries of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (North Dakota) (May 26, 2020).

U.S. Department of the Interior, M-37055: Withdrawal of Solicitor’s Opinion M-37029, “The Meaning of ‘Under Federal Jurisdiction’ for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act” (March 9, 2020).

Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands; Rescission of a 2015 Rule,” 82 Fed. Reg. 61924 (December 29, 2017).