December 9, 2021 

A coalition of over 300 organizations will increase pressure on President Biden to use his executive authority to stop new fossil fuel projects 

Washington, D.C. — With less than a month left in the calendar year, President Biden has so far failed to take the decisive actions to stop fossil fuel development that he promised on the campaign trail. 

That’s the assessment from Build Back Fossil Free, a coalition of over 300 organizations, which released a list today of 9 ways that President Biden must act on fossil fuels in 2022 in order to meet his climate commitments. 

“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 “Biden’s Climate Resolutions” 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. 

“Indigenous peoples played a vital role in Biden’s election and he has failed to protect our communities. From the Arctic to the Gulf he hasn’t taken meaningful action on the climate chaos that is devastating our homelands. We will keep pushing Biden to use his executive authority to halt all fossil fuel expansion and declare a climate emergency and invest in a just transition to protect the land, water and our futures,” said Jennifer K. Falcon, Communications Coordinator for Indigenous Environmental Network. 

“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).

Just in the last few weeks since UN climate talks in Glasgow, the administration has conducted the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in US history and issued a watered-down report about drilling on public lands that excluded any mention of climate impacts. 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.”

“Just days after COP26, where Biden committed to tackling the climate crisis with ‘actions, not words,’ he broke his campaign promise and held the largest oil and gas sale in the Gulf South. A climate president doesn’t drill for more oil, doesn’t sell off huge parts of public lands to the fossil fuel industry, and doesn’t cower to oil and gas executives that are profiting off of the destruction of our communities. Biden must do everything in his power through executive actions and the passage of Build Back Better to tackle the climate crisis – anything less would be a historic abdication of responsibility and confirmation that Biden really is all talk and no action,” said Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of Sunrise Movement.

The list from Build Back Fossil Free also highlights the President’s inability to prevent massive handouts to the fossil fuel industry in the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF) that he signed into law last month. An analysis by Friends of the Earth found that the BIF included over $25 billion in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, not to mention hundreds of billions for expanding roads, highways and airports, which, unless accompanied with strong actions to move away from fossil fuels, will only serve to increase emissions. 

Many groups are also frustrated that President Biden hasn’t done more to stop Senator Joe Manchin from stripping key climate provisions out of the Build Back Better Act to please his friends in the fossil fuel industry. Manchin has targeted for removal key climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act including the Clean Energy Performance Program, dramatically weakening the effectiveness of the legislation’s impact in tackling the climate crisis. 

“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.

The President’s failure to act on fossil fuels is having a direct impact on people across the country, especially in Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. According to the American Lung Association, more than 4 in 10 Americans breathe polluted air and Blacks are 61% more likely to be affected. Meanwhile, Indigenous peoples are seeing their land stolen and treaty rights violated for major fossil fuel projects, like the Line 3 pipeline, which President Biden failed to stop this summer. 

“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.”

If the President continues to fail on fossil fuels, he’ll also be unable to meet his own climate commitments. Analysis from Oil Change International indicates that if the Biden Administration moves ahead with 20 major fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are currently under federal review, it would be the emissions equivalent of adding 403 million metric tons of climate-disrupting greenhouse gas emissions annually. Adding three pipelines already approved by the Administration increases that total to 750 million metric tons per year. This total is equal to the average annual emissions from 404 U.S. coal-fired power plants, larger than all 294 coal plants operating in the continental United States. 

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.