More than 375 local and state elected officials from across the United States sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Congress Tuesday urging national leaders to halt all new fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
The letter (pdf), organized by the advocacy group Food & Water Watch, outlined key actions the federal government must take to address the looming climate emergency.
Specific demands in the letter included revoking existing permits for oil and gas extraction within 2,500 feet of homes and schools, ending subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, an equitable transition to clean energy for workers and communities most adversely impacted by fossil fuels, and a nationwide fracking ban enforced no later than 2025.
"I am asking the federal government and the Biden administration to lead, to do their jobs, and to lead us forward to a caring economy that will be sustainable and address the global climate crisis."—Minnesota state Sen. Jennifer McEwen
"Local elected officials have their fingers on the pulse of their communities, and can speak better than anyone about what kind of future everyday Americans are demanding," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "Their collective statement today is clear: It's time for our leaders in Washington to tackle the climate crisis now, not later. This means halting fracking and fossil fuel projects, period."
The backers of the letter detailed the vast and dire impacts of fossil fuel pollution on global and local communities and strongly denounced ongoing U.S. fracking and pipeline development, including the controversial Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, a multi-billion-dollar tar sands oil project that opponents call "an urgent threat" to Minnesota waters and the climate.
"If the Line 3 pipeline is built and oil starts flowing through it, it will be game over for the climate," Minnesota state Sen. Jennifer McEwen warned."So I am asking the federal government and the Biden administration to lead, to do their jobs, and to lead us forward to a caring economy that will be sustainable and address the global climate crisis."
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In Pennsylvania, Northampton County council member Tara Zrinsk said that local resistance to dirty fossil fuels projects is simply not sufficient to meet the threat.
"We're facing two new proposed pipeline projects that would use eminent domain to destroy residential and farm land, in addition to existing pipelines in our county," Zrinsk said. "This all stems back to fracking. We can't address this only at the local or state level. We need a national energy program that is supported by equity, infrastructure, green jobs, and the financial backing that only the federal government can provide."
The latest science suggests that without immediate reduction of oil and gas development even modest emissions targets will be impossible to meet.
Russell Greene, a senior strategic adviser on climate at Progressive Democrats of America, noted that signatories to the new letter are already living with the impacts of oil and gas development.
"The closer you live to the point of fossil fuel extraction and production, the closer your life is to the suffering it unleashes each day. The elected city and state officials sending this letter to President Biden and the members of the 117th Congress live closer to the suffering than do the leaders in Washington; and they are sounding out a warning, loud and clear," said Greene.
"The climate emergency is not coming. It is here," he continued. "People are suffering now. Halt. Revoke. End Fossil Fuels everywhere. Now."
Read the full letter here.