FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2021
Jennifer K. Falcon, email@example.com
Jamie Henn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-601-9337
With Climate Provisions of BBBA Sidelined, Executive Action is the Path Forward For Climate Action
Washington, D.C. — Sunday morning, Senator Joe Manchin – the top recipient of campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry in Congress – announced he would join every Senate Republican and stop negotiating on the Build Back Better Act, sidelining the legislation’s crucial climate action policies. This is yet another blow for climate action commitments made by the Biden Administration, which has so far failed to take the decisive actions to stop fossil fuel development that the President promised on the campaign trail. In response to Manchin’s announcement, Build Back Fossil Free, a coalition of over 300 organizations, urged the Administration to take urgent executive actions as the clearest path forward for President Biden to meet his commitments and tackle the climate crisis.
Earlier this month, the Build Back Fossil Free coalition released a list of nine executive actions that the Biden Administration must take now to act on fossil fuels and meet his climate commitments. The list includes stopping major fossil fuel infrastructure projects, fulfilling the President’s promise to end fossil fuel production on public lands and waters, and using his extensive executive authorities to curb production and crack down on existing pollution.
As Senator Manchin and Congressional Republicans appear to have derailed the Build Back Better Act and its significant climate provisions, these executive actions are clearly essential if the Administration has any hope of keeping its promises to the public.
“If the Biden Administration wants to achieve anything to tackle the climate crisis, they must stop capitulating to the fossil fuel industry’s favorite Senator and take urgent executive action now. The Administration has spent a year putting the priorities of fossil fuel executives first, hurting the Black, Indigenous, and communities of color that are already shouldering the unjust burden of pollution and the climate crisis.Our communities are dying from the impacts of climate chaos every day, we will not wait. If Biden wants to be the ‘climate president’ he told us he would be, he needs to actually take climate action by using his executive authority to reject new fossil fuel infrastructure and rapidly deploy renewable energy. Taking executive action is the only path he has left. Use it or lose it,” said Jennifer K. Falcon, Communications Coordinator for Indigenous Environmental Network.
Since the Administration’s last claim of climate leadership at UN climate talks in Glasgow, the administration has conducted the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in US history despite no legal obligation to do so and issued a watered-down report about drilling on public lands that excluded any mention of climate impacts. In addition, at the end of November, the administration had approved 3373 new drilling permits on public lands at a rate of about 334 per month, outpacing the Trump administration’s 300 permits per month in fiscal years 2018-2020.
“Even though Biden campaigned on being the ‘climate president,’ we’ve seen a year of him putting fossil fuel corporations before our communities, especially Black, Brown and Indigenous communities that have been targeted and harmed by the industry for generations. Among his failures, Biden ignored frontline Indigenous leaders’ calls for him to halt major fossil fuel projects like the Line 3, Dakota Access, and Line 5 pipelines, and instead, he used his executive powers to host the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in US history. Biden should count on massive demonstrations at the White House in 2022 if he doesn’t get his act together,” said Erika Thi Patterson, Campaign Director for Climate and Environmental Justice at the Action Center on Race and the Economy.
The Administration’s record of failing to address climate action and curb fossil fuels means dirtier air and water, especially in Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. More than 4 in 10 Americans breathe polluted air, and black people are 61% more likely to be affected according to the American Lung Association. At the same time, the Administration’s failure to stop major fossil fuel projects like the Line 3 pipeline means Indigenous peoples are seeing their land stolen and treaty rights violated again.
“Here on the ground, we are fighting for our lives. After a long-fought win stopping the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate Extension Lambert Compressor Station, we are continuing full steam ahead to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline in its totality. But this work to save our planet, people, land, and water can’t all be on our backs: we need our Climate President to honor his promise to meaningfully address climate change by stopping all new fossil fuel infrastructure, including MVP, and standing against environmental injustice,” said Roberta Bondurant, Co-Chair of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition (POWHR).
Without action, the Biden Administration will fail to meet the climate commitments it touted in Glasgow, as analysis from Oil Change International indicates approval of the 20 major fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are currently under federal review would generate 403 million metric tons of climate-disrupting greenhouse gas emissions annually. Combined with the emissions generated by three pipelines already approved by Biden would increase that total to 750 million metric tons per year – the average annual emissions from 404 U.S. coal-fired power plants. Currently, there arel 294 coal plants operating in the continental United States.
“Biden made a lot of promises on climate, but evidently he didn’t make a plan to keep them,” said Kassie Siegel, Climate Law Institute Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Greenlighting a massive Gulf oil lease sale and failing to stop the Line 3 pipeline are just two of the flagship failures that define this administration’s deeply disappointing record on climate so far. Biden can still rescue his agenda by resolving to aggressively curb fossil fuel production. He can still summon the courage to put people over a handful of oil executives, but he has to act now.”
After a year of fossil failures, the Build Back Fossil Free coalition is planning to keep up pressure on the administration to use its second year in office to finally get serious about stopping fossil fuel development. In October, the coalition brought thousands of people to Washington, D.C. for People vs. Fossil Fuels, a week of civil disobedience at the White House that led to over 650 arrests. The coalition has sounded the alarm that proposals by the Biden Administration — including international climate commitments – will be dramatically undermined without urgent action to phase out fossil fuels. More campaigns and mobilizations are planned for next year.
“President Biden and his team have spent most of this year following the Obama playbook when it comes to climate and fossil fuels. Instead of starting fresh, Biden is continuing to support fracking, pipelines and exports while capitulating to Big Oil’s allies in Congress. We desperately need Biden to leave the past behind, and start using his executive authority to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” said Thomas Meyer, national organizing manager at Food & Water Watch.