The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity:
Hunter Spence, Office of Rep. Earl Blumenauer:
Martina McLennan, Office of Sen. Jeff Merkley:

Report Details Key Powers Biden Can Unlock With National Climate Emergency, Echoes Congressional Calls for Declaration

President Could Ban Oil Exports, Boost Renewables Manufacturing, Halt Offshore Drilling


The Center for Biological Diversity released a groundbreaking report today outlining the suite of specific powers that President Biden could unlock to fight the climate crisis by declaring a national climate emergency.

Today's report outlines key climate steps the president could take under the National Emergencies Act, the Defense Production Act and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Declaring a national emergency would allow the president to halt crude oil exports, stop offshore oil and gas drilling, restrict international fossil fuel investment and rapidly manufacture and distribute renewable energy systems.

"Declaring a climate emergency isn't a catch phrase, it's a vital suite of actions to protect people and the planet from this crisis," said Jean Su, director of the Center's energy justice program and co-author of the report. "In the face of delayed climate legislation, President Biden should use his tremendous executive powers to turn this emergency into an opportunity for profound economic and social transformation."

In February 2021, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the National Climate Emergency Act, which would require the president to invoke his authorities under the National Emergency Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Jeff Merkley also made public calls for a national emergency declaration from President Biden.

"We are in the midst of a climate emergency -- it is here and it is costing millions of lives and livelihoods," said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). "The impacts of climate chaos are affecting us all, with devastating fire seasons, increased heat-related deaths and illnesses, and more powerful and deadly storms. Climate chaos is undermining the pillars of rural economies -- farming, forests and fishing. And many of the impacts are felt disproportionately by poor communities and communities of color. Since this is a devastating emergency, the right and appropriate action is for the Biden administration to treat it as such and declare a climate emergency to unlock the powers of government to respond boldly and effectively."

"The scientists, experts and all of our own lived experiences in the past few years make it clear: this is a climate emergency and it is past time to take action," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), author of the Climate Emergency Act. "I worked closely with the environmental community, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Sanders to introduce climate emergency legislation that would unleash every resource at our disposal to halt, reverse, mitigate and prepare for the consequences of this climate crisis. President Biden has worked to prioritize climate in the first year of his administration, but after years of practiced ignorance during the last administration and from congressional Republicans, more work remains to be done. This report, and my bill, chart the course."


More than 50 lawmakers and more than 1,000 national groups support the call for a national climate emergency as part of the Climate President Action Plan and Build Back Fossil Free coalition. In October, thousands of people joined demonstrations at the White House demanding that Biden declare a climate emergency and reject fossil fuel projects.

Community leaders with Build Back Fossil Free are now calling on the administration to use the upcoming State of the Union on March 1 to lay out a bold new climate agenda that includes declaring a climate emergency.

Since the passage of the National Emergencies Act in 1976, every president has used these emergency powers and declared at least one national emergency. Presidents routinely employed the Stafford Act and Defense Production Act to address disasters. For example, President Biden has used the Defense Production Act to address medical supply shortages in the COVID-19 crisis.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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