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Understanding Biden's environmental challenges and actions

The Biden administration’s ambitious plans for environmental progress face complex obstacles. The findings, expertise and policy experience of Stanford researchers working across multiple fields could help contribute to sustainable, cost-effective solutions.

Environmental issues collage
(Image credits: George Thomas, Getty via Canva, Shutterstock, Rob Dunbar, Getty Images)

In addition to combating COVID-19, stimulating the economy and ensuring racial equity, President Joe Biden has focused heavily on environmental issues during his first months in office. Beyond a flurry of executive orders on key priorities, such as rejoining the Paris climate agreement and conserving at least 30 percent of federal land and oceans by 2030, the Biden administration faces a mountain of complex, often interlocked crises that require innovative, boundary-crossing solutions. Stanford researchers working at the intersection of multiple fields are identifying promising new approaches to some of these challenges. Their findings, expertise and policy experience could help contribute to sustainable, cost-effective solutions.

“Solving the most pressing environmental quandaries of our time will require interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers, practitioners and stakeholders on an unprecedented scale and thinking deeply about how people relate to the world around them,” said Stanford behavioral scientist Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, an assistant professor of Earth system science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) and a center fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “It’s time for fundamental changes in approach.”

The Biden administration’s energy and environmental justice plan sets ambitious goals for undoing unjust community pollution burdens, ensuring safe drinking water and leveraging natural climate solutions, among other targets. Here, we highlight insights from Stanford experts on how to tackle some of these goals as well as other environmentally focused objectives, such as combating damaging wildfires, dealing with mounting nuclear waste and adapting to a rapidly changing Arctic.

Q&A: Environmental policies for all Americans?

Playground near industrial emissions in Michigan

Stanford researchers weigh in on how the Biden administration can address environmental justice and social issues that have been generations in the making.

How Biden can jumpstart U.S. nuclear waste strategy

Stanford University experts are cautiously optimistic that the Biden administration can change the U.S. trajectory on nuclear waste, and they offer their thoughts on how it can be done.

How to slow damage and build resilience in a rapidly changing Arctic

Melting iceberg

Stanford University scholars discuss the Biden administration’s early actions on environmental issues in the Arctic and how the U.S. government can address threats to ecosystems, people and infrastructure in the fastest-warming place on Earth.

How shifts in federal approaches can turn the tide of destructive wildfires

Bobcat fire, 2020

The Biden administration has an opportunity to rewrite the playbook on combatting wildfires. Stanford research and expertise point toward bipartisan solutions that reset priorities, change mindsets and employ new technologies.

The future of America's drinking water

Low water levels at Oroville Reservoir in California

Naming priorities such as better land management, an evolved portfolio of 21st-century solutions and more funding for research and development, Stanford experts highlight areas central to success as the Biden-Harris administration aims its sights on safeguarding U.S. drinking water.

Media Contacts

Danielle T. Tucker
School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, 650-497-9541

Josie Garthwaite
School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
(650) 497-0948;

Rob Jordan
Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
(650) 721-1881;

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