In case you missed it – President Biden gave an interview to the Weather Channel, released yesterday, in which he first seemed to forget whether he’d declared a climate emergency, and then when asked to clarify if he has issued an emergency declaration, Biden said: “Practically speaking, yes.”
This is a lie. Biden has not declared a climate emergency, practically or otherwise. What he’s done is admitted that climate change is a serious and existential threat, and passed some big tax and spending laws to promote renewable energy. But he’s also permitted and cheered a ton of new fossil fuel infrastructure including the Willow arctic oil project, loads of new fossil fuel exports, and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Too be clear, this isn’t a symbolic or semantic difference – Biden calls the climate crisis an emergency, but has specifically and intentionally refused to declare an emergency under the national emergencies act. Only an actual emergency declaration will unlock (and require) key powers and actions from the Administration related to disaster response. From building back better and including heat emergencies (as Governors and elected leaders from Puerto Rico to Arizona have been asking for), as well as addressing the cause of the climate emergency: Fossil fuels.
We can’t know what’s in the President’s heart or mind, but this seems to be the sticking point. Saying the climate is an emergency is stating the obvious. But if Biden puts the weight of the Presidency behind it by using the National Emergencies Act then he’ll have to take actions that he clearly doesn’t want to take – like denying permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure, drilling, and exports. He’d also have to fight the fossil fuel industry in court, which seems to be beyond terrifying for this administration. In the same interview Biden specifically blames a fossil fuel industry lawsuit for why he has to keep approving drilling permits on federal lands and waters.
But that isn’t true either. And even if it were true that he’s legally required to offer federal lands and waters for sale to the fossil fuel industry, in particular, there’s certainly no law that says he has to approve more drilling and extraction than any other President in history, including Trump.
Clearly, President Biden and his administration are feeling the heat as more and more Americans and elected officials call on him. to declare a climate emergency. But, equally clearly, the President is still resisting. Sign now and share this petition to tell keep the pressure on. Biden MUST declare a climate emergency this summer.