President of the United States
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry
White House National Climate Advisory Regina McCarthy
US Consular General Jack Hillmeyer
United States Consular General Edinburgh
3 Regent Terrace
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
November 8, 2021
Dear President Biden, Climate Representative John Kerry, Climate Representative Regina McCarthy, US Climate Envoy & US Consular General Jack Hillmeyer
As world leaders gather here in Glasgow for the UNFCCC COP26, we write to you to express our immense dismay in your administration’s ongoing support for fossil fuel infrastructure, pipelines, and leases. While publicly, the United States claims global leadership, domestically, Indigenous lands are being violated while our communities are sacrificed to prop up an obsolete and poisonous industry.
A clear example of this is the scheduled auction on November 17 of over 80 million acres of offshore drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as hundreds of thousands of onshore acreage at a later date. Concern remains for vulnerable lands, such as the Arctic Refuge, which still have not gained permanent protection and are subject to devastating oil and gas development at the cost of Indigenous lives. Such actions not only threaten our Indigenous lands, treaty rights, nations, and communities but also undermine your stated commitments to a climate mobilization, federal relief for toxic pollution in Black, Indigenous and communities of the global majority, and respect for Tribal sovereignty. Free Prior and Informed Consent must be ratified and adopted at all levels of decision making for the United States to claim any measure of justice in the ongoing climate negotiations and the transition that will follow.
Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency reiterated what scientists have made clear for decades, and Indigenous communities have reinforced for millenia: oil, gas and coal expansion must stop now to align with the absolute maximum global 1.5 degrees celsius temperature rise limit. Already our communities are suffering and our people are dying–they will continue to do so at 1.5 degrees, but it is clear that under the presumption of current inaction, our lost lives, food systems, cultures, and languages are of little concern to your administration. We need you to be bolder and braver to defend our future. The hard-line declaration that we deliver to you today falls in step with the generations of Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge that has stated thus: for the benefit of all life on this planet, we must never build fossil fuel infrastructure again.
As such, now is the time for you, Mr. President, to use your executive authority to immediately stop fossil fuel expansion and declare a climate emergency, while aggressively lobbying Congress to enact protective legal frameworks that support a just transition.
Indigenous communities have already experienced tremendous loss and trauma due to your administration’s inaction to stop the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines, two projects whose greenhouse gas emissions combined are equal to 80 coal-fired power plants. Our communities demand better. Our tribal nations demand better. As such, we call on you to use existing law to do the following:
For the benefit of Mother Earth, Father Sky and all life within their domain, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. We are out of time, and the power to act is in your hands.
Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective
Indigenous Environmental Network
Build Back Fossil Free Coalition