President Biden’s Executive Orders on the Environment: Praiseworthy Policy, Political Red Herring, or… Both?

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To be “praiseworthy” is to be deserving of praise, of warm approval. To be a “red herring” is to be misleading, a distraction from the real question, whether intentional or not. It is hard to argue that Executive Orders 13990 and 14008 do not contain praiseworthy environmental policies, many of which have already been reaffirmed in further Presidential efforts. However, for the learned environmentalist, it is difficult not to maintain a robust skepticism. In the discussion that follows, I will explore elements of the Biden administration’s praiseworthy environmental policy. I will also examine ways in which some of those policies may be misleading based on current political narratives and environmental history. I conclude that although the Biden administration’s position on a variety of environmental issues is praiseworthy, it fails to acknowledge and address the underlying ideological commitment that has gotten us here, and as such, we should not let our praise distract from the ideological battle that must still be won.