President Biden has been busy issuing Executive Orders (EOs) during his first weeks in office. Yesterday's Your Congress in Action briefly looked at the EOs that potentially affect CRM, and now we want to take a deeper dive into them.
So, let’s discuss exactly what an EO is. An EO is a means of issuing federal directives that the President, and only the President, can use to manage operations of Executive branch departments and agencies, such as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the military. Article Two of the Constitution is the primary legal basis for EOs as it gives the President broad executive and enforcement authority to use his or her discretion to determine how to enforce laws or otherwise manage the resources and staff of Executive Branch departments and agencies.
Like legislative statutes and regulations, EOs are subject to judicial review and can be overturned if the orders lack support by statute or the Constitution while others may require approval by the legislative branch. Although they do not have the force of law or regulations, EOs have significant influence over the internal affairs of the Executive Branch as they generally address how and to what degree legislation will be enforced and generally fine-tune the implementation of broad statutes.
Presidential executive orders, once issued, remain in force until they are canceled, revoked, adjudicated unlawful, or expire on their terms. An example is EO 11593--Protection and enhancement of the cultural environment, which was issued by Nixon in 1971. The president can revoke, modify, or make exceptions from any EO at any time, whether the order was made by the current President or a predecessor, as Biden is doing. Typically, a new President reviews in-force executive orders in the first few weeks in office.
The Biden administration appears to be focusing on climate change, environmental protection, and renewable energy. One of the first EOs he signed on January 20 was agreeing to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. The following are the EOs that will potentially affect or may be of interest to the cultural resource community:
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