Environmental activists at the White House

Environmental activists protest against the Willow oil project in Alaska's North Slope region as U.S. President Joe Biden attends a conservation summit at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C. on March 21, 2023.

(Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Biden Can't Back Fossil Fuels Then 'Throw a Bone' to Young Voters, Says Sunrise

"He must reject new fossil fuel projects, starting with CP2, that poison communities and that will harm young people far into the future."

While welcoming the Biden administration's new rules on clean energy tax credits, the youth-led Sunrise Movement also stressed Friday that the policy is far from enough to win over young voters concerned about the worsening climate emergency.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday issued proposed guidance on how companies can utilize the Section 45X Advanced Manufacturing Production Credit from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that President Joe Biden signed last year. The Democrat campaigned on the promise of being a "climate president" and is now seeking reelection next year.

"It's critical the Biden administration unleash a WWII-scale mobilization of government to stop climate change and his decision to make 45X robust and uncapped is a step towards that," Sunrise political director Michele Weindling said in a Friday statement reacting to Treasury's new guidelines.

"These are the kind of effective measures we need to see more of from the administration to build renewable energy at the scale science demands," Weindling added.

"However, President Biden must do so much more if he wants to be taken seriously by young voters," she continued. "He is overseeing an explosion in oil and gas production that has resulted in the U.S. producing more fossil fuels than ever before."

"Biden must do so much more if he wants to be taken seriously by young voters."

As Oil Change International highlighted in an analysis last month, the Biden administration can't rely on the IRA to demonstrate its commitment to the emissions reduction that scientists agree is needed, because the law leaves the fossil fuel industry with major opportunities to keep profiting handsomely from extracting more planet-heating oil and gas—which the president is enabling.

Biden has come under fire from frontline communities and climate experts and groups—including Sunrise—for skipping the recent U.N. summit, continuing fossil fuel lease sales for public lands and waters, declining to declare a national climate emergency, backing the Willow oil project and Mountain Valley Pipeline, and supporting the expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

The Biden administration is now facing pressure to deny permits for the Calcasieu Pass 2 facility, a proposed LNG export terminal that would emit over 20 times more greenhouse gases than Willow. Weindling said that "he must reject new fossil fuel projects, starting with CP2, that poison communities and that will harm young people far into the future."

"Biden must make a choice," she declared. "He can't one day cave to fossil fuel millionaires and the next throw a bone to young people. That's not how science works, and young voters know it."

Young voters played a key role in blocking a "red wave" that was anticipated for the 2022 midterms. They also helped Biden defeat former President Donald Trump in 2020. Trump is the GOP front-runner for 2024 despite his election subversion efforts related to that race, his fascistic rhetoric on the campaign trail, and four ongoing criminal cases.

Polling results released last week show that 73% of U.S. voters across the political spectrum think the government should design policies to meet its commitment to halve emissions by 2030. The survey also revealed majority support for requiring all U.S. electricity be produced "using renewable sources like solar and wind" by 2035 and offering federal tax credits for purchasing home solar panels and electric vehicles.

While Sunrise used the new Treasury guidance on tax credits to issue a warning to the president about the next election, other climate campaigners celebrated the proposal, which recommends "clarifying definitions and confirms credit amounts for eligible components, including solar energy components, wind energy components, inverters, qualifying battery components, and applicable critical minerals."

"It also proposes definitions for key terms to incentivize production in the United States and to clarify the circumstances under which taxpayers can claim the credit," Treasury noted. The department pointed out that "businesses have announced investments of more than $600 billion in clean energy and manufacturing" since Biden signed the IRA.

Harry Manin, deputy legislative director for industrial policy and trade at the Sierra Club, said in a statement Thursday that "the tax credit for U.S. manufacturers to produce goods in support of the clean energy economy is foundational to the Inflation Reduction Act."

"This investment redresses decades of policy blunders that moved industry and technical expertise overseas to polluting competitors with bad labor records," he added. "45X signals to the private sector that the U.S. is best suited to be the production hub of the clean energy transition worldwide. It helps fulfill President Biden's promise to create good-paying manufacturing jobs that are here to stay, and delink U.S. energy security from oil-producing bad actors that don't have our interests at heart."

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