On April 22, 2024, the federal government issued a rule “amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)” to “implement a requirement for agencies to procure sustainable products and services to the maximum extent practicable.”  In other words, federal contractors now have enhanced obligations to provide sustainable products and services as part of their contractual duties owed to the government. 

This action is simply one of a broader range of initiatives to implement the Biden Administration's environmental agenda.  Even though the passage of major domestic legislation has effectively been stymied by a divided Congress, the Biden Administration has employed administrative or agency action--whether through enhanced requirements for government contractors, as here, or through the SEC's proposed rules on climate disclosure--to guide economic activity in the United States into a more sustainable framework.  While the impact of each of these individual actions may not be clear for some time, the government is clearly trying to shape the incentive structure for businesses to steer them towards desired behavior, and presumably environmentally-friendly outcomes. 

Such activity demonstrates the power of the administrative state, and the ability of the executive branch to shape policy, even in the absence of Congressional action.  Of course, such power may soon be limited by the courts, which have recently been receptive to efforts to curtail the reach and influence of the administrative state.