Build Back Fossil Free coalition is pushing a “fossil fuel checklist” for President Biden ahead of the State of the Union
Washington, D.C. – Ending the federal approval of new fossil fuel projects. Stopping drilling on public lands and waters. Respecting Indigenous rights.
These are amongst the 10 Executive Actions that the Build Back Fossil Free coalition is urging President Biden to take in order to choose the “people over fossil fuels” ahead of the State of the Union next month.
Build Back Fossil Free, which is composed of hundreds of climate, progressive, Indigenous, Black, Latino and social justice organizations, released the checklist of 10 executive actions on social media today as part of a month-long push on the Biden Administration to finally address the fossil fuel production that is threatening communities and the climate.
“Despite his bold campaign promises, and two climate executive orders on climate in the first week of his presidency, Biden has failed to use the full power of his office to tackle fossil fuel production and address the climate emergency,” said Joye Braun, Indigenous Environmental Network, National Pipelines Organizer.
“Biden can’t have it both ways. He can’t claim to be a ‘Climate President’ while presiding over the largest offshore oil and gas lease ever, and more oil and gas leases on public lands than what the Trump administration issued over the same length of time. He has to listen to demands from the frontlines and use every power at his disposal to end the production, processing, and burning of fossil fuels,” said Basav Sen, Climate Policy Director, Institute for Policy Studies.
After rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline because it threatened the country’s air, water, climate, and violated Indigenous treaty rights – the Administration refused to stop the Line 3 pipeline, which posed a commensurate threat, refused to shut down the illegal Dakota Access Pipeline, and has failed to intervene on other major pipeline projects like Line 5 and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The President has also failed to make good on his promise to end fossil fuel development on public lands – in fact, he’s expanded development. According to findings by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Biden administration approved 3,557 permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands in its first year, far outpacing the Trump administration’s first-year total of 2,658. Just days after returning from the UN Climate Talks in Glasgow, the President hosted the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in US history. Last week, a federal judge invalidated the sale, ruling that the Biden administration failed to accurately disclose and consider the greenhouse gas emissions and climate harms. Public lands account for about a quarter of US emissions and there is no way for the country to meet its climate targets if drilling continues at current rates.
“The Biden administration’s bullish support for fracking and liquified natural gas exports is a disaster for communities and the climate. Shipping dirty gas abroad will lead to more drilling here at home, when we should be ending our addiction to fossil fuels. New research from Harvard builds on what we’ve known for years: Fracking is poisoning the people who live with this toxic industry every day, it pollutes our air and water, and it drives climate chaos. The White House must stop this fossil fuel madness,” said Thomas Meyer, National Organizing Manager at Food & Water Watch.
For over a year now, climate justice, Indigenous, Black, Latino, and progressive groups with the Build Back Fossil Free coalition have been making the case to the Biden Administration that the best way to deliver on their climate agenda is to use the extensive executive authorities and regulatory powers granted to the administration, rather than “give the football” to Congress, where corrupt politicians with close ties to the fossil fuel industry have successfully blocked meaningful political action.
“Biden should quit peddling to polluters and their Congressional cronies, take out his presidential pen and deliver on his climate promises,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Under existing law, Biden has powerful tools to stop approving fossil fuel projects, leases and exports, and to declare a climate emergency to ignite a just, renewable-energy economy. The future of life on earth depends on whether Biden will use his powers or surrender to a fossil-fueled catastrophe.”
The President has a long list of actions that he could take or instruct his agencies to take, ranging from stopping fossil fuel infrastructure approvals to instructing the EPA to issue a stringent pollution prevention rule for the oil and gas sector. Declaring a climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act would unlock additional statutory powers, including the ability to halt crude oil exports and directing funds to build resilient, distributed renewable energy.
Last October, thousands of people joined Build Back Fossil Free in Washington, D.C. for the “People vs. Fossil Fuels” mobilization, where over 650 people were arrested in civil disobedience at the White House and Congress demanding that President Biden act on climate. Days later, 13 members of Congress sent a letter to the Administration echoing the coalition’s demands.
Now, the Build Back Fossil Free coalition hopes that their escalating pressure, the growing number of climate disasters taking place across the country, and the administration’s own failure to get its agenda passed in Congress, will lead President Biden to revisit the idea of using his executive and agency authorities to address the climate emergency.
The coalition is specifically calling on the Administration to use the upcoming State of the Union on March 1st to lay out a bold new climate agenda that can’t be stopped by fossil fuel apologists in Congress.
No matter what, the Build Back Fossil Free coalition is committed to keep escalating pressure on the administration to act in the coming months, with more protests, mass call-ins, and meetings with administration officials in the works.
“Biden’s failure to use his executive power in light of an overwhelming mandate from those most affected, is troubling. By not ‘keeping it in the ground’ and accelerating the transition to clean, renewable energy, he further endangers millions in overburdened communities who suffer from the poisonous effects of fossil fuels,” said John Beard, Executive Director, Port Arthur Community Action Network. “Our lives, our planet is at risk, and he must take decisive executive action now. Delay is not an option. His choice is easy, his path clear and certain: he must choose ‘people over fossil fuels’ to build back better, fossil free. And we fully expect him to keep his word.”
“Right now, over 91% of the public lands within the Greater Chaco landscape are currently leased for fracking, there are over 60,000 oil and gas wells in NM, and tens of thousands of New Mexicans already live within a quarter-mile of a frack-well.” says Pueblo Action Alliance, an grassroots organization in New Mexico fighting for environmental justice. “For over a century, the federal government has dubbed the Greater Chaco Landscape a “national energy sacrifice zone” and the surrounding Diné people and frontline communities experience disproportionate negative impacts due to the presence of ongoing extractive industries. The Biden administration needs to do more and implement concrete action now to protect not only these sacred spaces, but the Indigenous people who occupy these lands as well.”