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Climate activists participate in a climate march from Freedom Plaza to Capitol Hill on October 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Activists Cheer LA Times Editorial Board's Call for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"There's little chance we'll look back decades from now and say the president did too much, or that our alarms about the imperiled planet rang too loud," the board warned. "We'll only regret that we didn't act more aggressively or sooner."

Jenna McGuire

Climate campaigners on Friday welcomed the Los Angeles Times editorial board calling on President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and deploy the full might of his executive powers to curb the global crisis.

"It's time Biden adopted an all-hands-on-deck approach to this spiraling catastrophe," said the LA Times editorial board. "There's little chance we'll look back decades from now and say the president did too much, or that our alarms about the imperiled planet rang too loud. We'll only regret that we didn't act more aggressively or sooner."

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) Inflation Reduction Act—expected to be passed in the Senate and signed into law by Biden—is acknowledged as a step in the right direction with various renewable energy measures, environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers have criticized the bill for its blatant inadequacies and inclusion of billions of dollars in new tax breaks and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

"The threat now is so dire that we need Biden to deliver on his pledge. That means using every executive and administrative power legally available to him."

The LA Times editorial board said the IRA was incongruous with the U.S. pledge under the Paris climate agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

The Inflation Reduction Act "would be the biggest climate action ever taken by Congress. But the bar is low, because Congress has never passed significant climate legislation, despite more than three decades of warnings about the perils of inaction," the editorial board said. "Signing it into law will only get us part of the way to Biden's goal of slashing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, leaving our nation's pledge under the Paris climate agreement out of reach without more action by his administration."

Jean Su of the Center for Biological Diversity—who welcomed the editorial on Twitter Friday—co-authored a February report that laid out specific actions the president could take under a climate emergency declaration.

The report outlines that under the Defense Production Act, National Emergencies Act, and Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Biden could:

  • Halt crude oil exports;
  • Stop oil and gas drilling in the outer continental shelf;
  • Restrict international trade and private investment in fossil fuels;
  • Grow domestic manufacturing for clean energy and transportation to speed the nationwide transition off fossil fuels; and
  • Build resilient and distributed renewable energy systems in climate-vulnerable communities.

The LA Times editorial board joins a chorus of climate advocates and Democratic lawmakers, who for months have demanded the president—who has thus far refused—declare a climate emergency amid the ongoing crisis of unprecented wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and record-breaking heatwaves.

"We, together, are calling on President Biden to use his executive power to declare a climate emergency," said Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) at a political event in July. "Movements, activists, scientists, and young people have long called for the United States to recognize climate change as the emergency that it is."

Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) asked at the July event, "What the hell are we waiting for?"

The LA Times editorial board also urged Biden to take further action "through federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, which has not yet completed a slew of regulations to cut pollution from power plants, trucks, buildings, and heavy industry," noting it doesn't require an emergency declaration to accomplish those goals.

"The threat now is so dire that we need Biden to deliver on his pledge. That means using every executive and administrative power legally available to him to protect Americans from climate-fueled disasters, boost renewable energy, and shift away from fossil fuels," said the editorial board. "And because declaring a national emergency would unlock additional tools and resources, he should do it."


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