Yesterday, on Joe Biden’s 54th day as President, Deb Haaland was confirmed as Interior Secretary by the US Senate. It’s a capstone on what has been, by all accounts, a wildly successful first half of of President Biden’s first 100 days. And it sets and even higher bar for the next 50 days which will set out President Biden’s level of ambition on climate change, and include major decisions on tar sands Pipelines, clean energy, and more.
Here’s some of what we’ve done over the last 50 days, and some of what we need to do next:
Even before Biden was sworn in as President, we’ve been pushing him to appoint climate champions to his cabinet. Deb Haaland was one of our first suggestions, and the most powerful climate hawk nominated — now Senate confirmed — to serve in Biden’s cabinet. These fights have been essential because of the old saying “personnel is policy.” But not all of the people Biden picked for his cabinet are as strong on climate as Deb Haaland. And even the strongest advocates will need our support over the next 3 years to make sure Biden delivers the transformative change we need on climate change.
Haaland’s new post at Interior is a great example – later this week the department she now leads is holding a first public hearing on President Biden’s order to pause, but not yet to cancel or amend, the US government’s practice of allowing fracking, drilling and fossil fuel mining on publicly owned lands. It’s a dirty deal that cheats us as taxpayers and poisons our climate at the same time. Pausing those leases – hopefully ending them permanently – was a big victory of the first climate policies Biden announced on Jan 26. But now it’s up to Haaland to see the process through.
Because policy is policy too. Haaland’s confirmation today locks in one of the last cabinet-level posts in the Biden Administration’s climate team. And now that we know who we’re dealing with, it’s time for these folks to get to to work! A new report out from the United Nations a few weeks ago confirms what we’ve known for years — Even as Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement with great fanfare on Jan 20, nations are “nowhere close” to the level of action they promised in that treaty, let along what’s needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius necessary to avert the worst, most deadly, impacts of climate chaos.
That could start to change next month as President Biden announces his climate action plan, and gets serious about a big infrastructure plan he calls “Build back better,” but which we all want to be #BuildBackFossilFree. Here’s some of what will happen over the next 50 days and what we plan to do about it, if we have the means and support to do so:
- On Earth Day, April 22, Biden is holding a big summit at the White House on climate action. Between now and then, he’ll announce his plan for what the US will do to reduce emissions in accordance with the Paris climate agreement, and try and rally world leaders to do the same.
- But President Biden’s goal for climate pollution cuts isn’t yet set. Reports like that one from the UN above indicate that the US needs to pledge big cuts, fast – like a 70% reduction in global warming pollution by 2030. But early indications are that Biden may only re-state the climate goals of the Obama administration – which were less than half that. And weaker ambition in the US can lead to weaker commitments from allies in Canada (where the Tar Sands comes from) and around the world,
- Around the same time – Late April to Early May – he’ll unveil his plan to invest trillions of dollars in US infrastructure and fulfill his promise to “build back better.” Whatever goal President Biden sets in April, it will be up to this infrastructure package to deliver it in new wind farms, solar panels, electric cars, and more.
- Again, early indications are mixed: Several bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to invest in renewable energy and reduce global warming pollution. But almost all of them still invest in fracked gas, and some of them still back dangerous and backward ideas like geo-engineering, clean coal, or carbon capture. And while he’s taken action to block the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, President Biden still has not spoken out to stop Line 3 – which is the exact same diameter as KXL – or the Dakota Access Pipelines. Those are some big examples of infrastructure you just can’t build, permit, or invest in if you’re going to cut US global warming pollution over the next 10 years.
So, what were we going to do about it and why should you chip in? Here are a few examples and ideas:
- Where the Biden administration has a commitment, and a process – like that Interior Department hearing on fossil fuel leasing on public lands, or an ongoing series of hearings to reform the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – we’ll make easy actions available so your can send comments, calls, and letters to President Biden and his team.
- Starting later this month, we’ll team up with partners from Standing Rock youth and 350.org to help you speak out (and get noticed) on Line 3 and DAPL. We’ve just started using new tools to send text messages to those who opt-in, and to make it easy to RSVP for events from your phone. Those new tools cost $50-$100 a month – so if 2 of you commit to donating $19.80 a month or more, that would be great!
- We’ll keep abreast of all the agency chatter, Congressional hearings, and interesting news about climate policy – and pass on the most actionable info to you by email. In the last few weeks we sent more than 2000 letters to all 100 Senators asking them not to bail out fossil fuel companies in the COVID relief bill. And it worked! The American Rescue plan passed by Congress and signed by President Biden invests $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief and American workers, but not one penny of it goes to Fossil fuel CEOs. And Compared to relief bills passed when Trump was President, where hundreds of billions of dollars were gobbled up by fossil fuel corporations, under Biden 92% of small business aid will got to firms with less than 20 employees.
- We pay about $1/1,000 emails we send to this list – and we try and email you about once or twice a week. So a donation of $1.98 a week basically covers the cost of sending you email. And a donation of $198 covers all your friends and means we don’t have to ask for money for a whole month!
- Even during the pandemic, we’re still committed to showing up and taking action when and how it’s safe to do so. Like everyone, we’re hopeful that vaccines and a few more months will make a lot more in-person action possible. But until we get there, it takes a little more care and planning to come up with and support safe actions – often relying more on art to tell our stories, and working with smaller crowds of people.
- Every donation, of any size really helps. And since this is an volunteer project nobody draws a salary, and we don’t have an office or any ‘overhead’ costs. Every dollar you can donate goes right into supporting the message, tools, and actions we need to accomplish our mission: To be a digital resource for direct action campaigns fighting to save the planet.
And of course – if you can’t donate there’s still loads you can do to help! Share this article with your networks to start!