Press Release | July 20, 2022

SELC statement: Biden administration commits to executive action on climate

The administration must use all available tools to fight climate change, including TVA as the nation’s largest federal utility

WASHINGTON — Today the Biden administration announced new measures aimed at fighting climate change, including efforts to boost offshore wind production and initiatives that will help communities cope with extreme heat — one of the many consequences of the climate crisis already impacting the South and the nation. The action comes as climate legislation talks have stalled in Congress, underscoring the need for the administration to lead efforts to confront climate change.

In response to the Biden administration’s commitments to future executive orders on climate, the Southern Environmental Law Center issued the following statements:

“We are encouraged by the Biden administration’s continued focus on the climate crisis. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in West Virginia v. EPA and the breakdown of climate legislation discussions, leaders at all levels of government must act urgently to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It is more important than ever that the administration use all available tools to address the climate crisis, including the role of the Tennessee Valley Authority as a federal agency. As one of the largest electricity generators in the nation, the administration can call on TVA to take meaningful action right now to confront climate change head-on,” said SELC Director of Federal affairs Nat Mund.

“President Biden has consistently called on federal agencies to lead his administration’s response to the climate crisis. Still, the nation’s largest federal utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority, is recklessly flouting federal climate goals with plans to spend billions on new ‘natural gas’ plants and pipelines, which will emit dangerous greenhouse gases like methane for decades. In order to fight the climate crisis, the administration should ensure that the agency heeds executive orders and invests in affordable, readily available renewable energy sources instead of doubling down on climate-warming fossil fuels. TVA was a leader in electrifying the rural South in the 1930s and it must now become a leader in the transition to a carbon-free energy grid. President Biden has the power to make that happen today,” said SELC Tennessee Office Director Amanda Garcia.

Background on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s planned gas buildout:

The Tennessee Valley Authority is currently proposing to retire two of its remaining coal-fired power plants: Cumberland Fossil Plant and Kingston Fossil Plant. But instead of replacing these dirty facilities with renewable energy sources, the federal utility is planning to double-down on fossil fuels by building new gas plants and pipelines, which will continue to emit climate-warming gases for decades – well beyond the Biden administration’s goal of a carbon-free power grid by 2035. The plan will cost billions of dollars, worsen the impacts of climate change, commit ratepayers to paying for volatile fossil fuels, and has been heavily criticized by other federal agencies, including EPA and the National Park Service.

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