Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency, a controversial move that would give the new administration sweeping authority to circumvent Congress to combat global warming. Declaring a climate emergency could unlock new powers for Biden, including the ability to redirect funding for clean energy projects, shut down crude oil exports, suspend offshore drilling and curtail the movement of fossil fuels on pipelines, trains, and ships. Former President Donald Trump used the tactic in February 2019 to divert billions of dollars to start construction on the wall along the southern border after Congress refused to appropriate the funding.
“Now, Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall, which wasn’t an emergency,” Schumer said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that aired on Monday night. “But if there ever was an emergency climate is one. So I would suggest that they explore looking at climate as an emergency, which would give them more flexibility.”
Any such move would almost certainly face court challenges — just as Trump’s wall funding maneuver did. In July 2019, the Supreme Court cleared his administration’s plan to use disputed Pentagon funds to construct more than 100 miles of fencing along the Mexican border.