People vs. Fossil Fuels
Today, members of the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition carried out a number of actions across the country to pressure President Biden to declare a climate emergency and stop approving fossil fuel projects. Grassroots organizers from San Francisco, to Boston, to Washington, DC and twenty other cities. took to the streets to demand that the Biden Administration to hold the line against fossil fuel expansion. This follows a week of climate emergency actions, including an Indigenous action led by Ikiya Collective at the Department of the Interior and a press conference with Members of Congress.
“Yesterday, Ikiya Collective shut down the Department of Interior demanding Biden declare a climate emergency and put Native lands back in Native hands by ending an era of approving fossil fuel projects that target our communities. Today, we joined Greenpeace outside the White House with the same message, Black, Indigenous and communities of the global majority are not your sacrifice zones.” said Ikiya Collective’s Jennifer K. Falcon.
“The climate crisis is moving towards us faster than the pace of Congressional compromise. It’s high time that President Biden took executive action to declare this crisis an emergency and act swiftly to end the fossil fuel era,” said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Santosh Nandabalan. “Biden must keep his promises and declare a climate emergency now.”
Biden broke his promise to end new federal fossil fuel leasing, failed to stop mega-polluting projects like the Line 3 tar sands pipeline, and is backing false promises from the industry like "carbon capture & storage” that serve to extend the fossil fuel era.
“Like many people, I’m watching my favorite places on earth burn again this summer. Last summer, the fires came within two miles of my home on the Klamath,” said Konrad Fisher, Director of the Water Climate Trust in a statement for the action in the Bay Area on Tuesday. “President Biden .. loves to talk tough about climate change and environmental justice, but won’t stand up to the powerful interests that profit from the extraction and injustice. It’s time for Biden to walk his talk, declare a climate emergency, and give future generations a fighting chance.”
“Today we delivered a 16-foot Earth to the White House along with nearly half a million petition signatures demanding that President Biden declare a climate emergency,” said Ashley Thomson, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA. “Last week more than 85 million people in the U.S. were under heat-related advisories and 42 states are currently in a drought. The climate emergency is happening. President Biden needs to act like it now if he wants to preserve a livable future.”
“Today we joined with other groups across the country, our lands, to tell Biden to do what is right, declare a climate emergency,” said Joye Braun, National Pipelines Organizer at Indigenous Environmental Network. “Our Indigenous communities are often the first to experience the disastrous effects of climate change with the least amount of resources to help our relatives. We are under attack from fossil fuel expansion and the threats of false solution projects that threaten our sovereignty. We are the first to be sacrificed and the last to be listened to. This must stop. Biden has the authority to declare a climate emergency and put processes in place that could save our lives and our communities. There is no more time to be had.”
“Coloradans and people across the world are already suffering the impacts of increasingly devastating wildfires, drought, floods, extreme temperatures and impacts to our economy, agriculture, tourism, winter sports and more,” said Micah Parkin, with 350 Colorado. “Stronger climate leadership is required at the state and national levels to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the most catastrophic impacts. So Coloradans are calling on President Biden and Governor Polis to declare a climate emergency and use their executive powers to stop new fossil fuel development and speed the transition to clean renewable energy.
“The world is rapidly running out of time to avoid climate collapse. Extreme weather will continue to intensify. President Biden, by declaring a climate emergency, can unleash significant powers he can take via executive action without the need for Congressional approval. While Congressional action to providing funding to renewables is welcomed, we need all levels of government to support a halt to new fossil fuels and a rapid phaseout to existing uses,” said Mark Dunlea of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), the 350 affiliate in the Capital District.
"The climate crisis is already upon us, as watching the weather reports this month tells us," said Bob Cohen, Citizen Action Policy and Research Director, who directs the organization's climate work. "Nationally, at least 656 people died last year as a result of climate-driven disasters like wildfires and hurricanes, and historic storms like Sandy, Irene and Ida have devastated upstate and downstate New York alike. While the agreement between Senator Schumer and Senator Manchin would take some positive steps, we must take an 'all hands on deck' approach. President Biden should unlock the powers of the federal government by taking steps like using military funds to support clean energy projects."
"When people are dying from wildfires in California and floods in Appalachia, that’s a climate emergency," said Molly Morabito, a climate organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. "President Biden has had the power since day one of his presidency to declare a national climate emergency and stop the fossil fuel projects that will worsen this crisis. People are in the streets today because we’re tired of waiting while people suffer. We need Biden to keep his climate promises and act, no matter what happens in Congress."
"We as members of faith communities in Essex County, NJ are proud to join with others around the country in calling on President Biden to use all the power at his disposal to move us toward climate safety and justice now”, said Rev. John Rodgers, First Congregational Church, Rev. Katrina Forman, Union Congregational Church, and Rabbi Elliott Tepperman, B'nai Keshet. “While the pending legislation contains important commitments, it also includes dangerous compromises with Big Oil. We need the President to go further in supporting frontline communities and ending federal support for the fossil fuel industry that is endangering us all."
On July 27, a reconciliation deal between Senators Schumer and Manchin was announced with provisions that would require massive oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, reinstate an illegal 2021 Gulf lease sale, and mandate that millions more acres of public lands be offered for leasing before any new solar or wind energy projects could be built on public lands or waters. These leasing provisions lock in decades of additional fossil fuel pollution and continue a racist legacy of sacrificing environmental justice communities.
Declaring a climate emergency signals to the world that the President is ready to play hard ball on climate and unleash all his executive powers to make real climate progress. President Biden should not have wasted a year and a half negotiating with a coal baron. He has all the powers he needs right now to act boldly on climate.
Legally, a climate emergency declaration unlocks important emergency powers to rapidly shift off of fossil fuels:
- Ban crude oil exports — The US exports about ¼ of the crude oil it produces. This production is largely taking place in the Permian Basin. Banning crude oil exports can cut greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount a year as closing 42 coal plants.
- Stop foreign fossil fuel investment — Halting the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. federal investment in fossil fuel projects abroad will prevent locking in decades of reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure and halt fossil fuel proliferation in other countries.
- Roll out renewable energy and e-transportation infrastructure — Direct Pentagon Funds toward the pieces that will ensure our climate security with renewable energy systems, climate-resilient technologies, and electric transportation.
Activists are also calling on the President to go beyond emergency powers and do everything in his non-emergency executive powers to beat climate chaos by ending oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, denying all new federal permits for fossil fuel infrastructure like the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Formosa plastics plant, restricting gas exports to the extent allowed under the Natural Gas Act, and more.