The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jennifer K. Falcon,

Congressional Progressive Caucus Calls on Biden to Declare a Climate Emergency and Ban Fossil Fuel Leasing on Federal Lands and Waters

Congressional Progressives follow the lead of climate, frontline, and progressive groups who have been making the same demands.


The Congressional Progressive Caucus today called on President Biden to declare a climate emergency, jumpstart just renewable energy production, ban federal fossil fuel leasing, end fossil fuel subsidies, and take executive actions aimed at advancing environmental justice and making clean air and water accessible for all.

Since Biden's inauguration, declaring a climate emergency, igniting a just renewable energy revolution, and ending fossil fuel expansion have been the top demands from climate, Indigenous, social justice, and progressive groups, including the Build Back Fossil Free Coalition. The growing coalition of more than a thousand groups is dedicated to pushing Biden to use his executive authority to act on climate and fossil fuels.

In October 2021, the Build Back Fossil Free coalition organized a weeklong mobilization at the White House where thousands of Indigenous, frontline, and allied activists put their bodies on the line to demand Biden declare a climate emergency and stop permitting fossil fuel projects.

Earlier this year, the coalition sent a letter, signed by more than 1,100 organizations, to Biden urging him to quickly deliver on his campaign promises by declaring a climate emergency, stopping the federal approval of new fossil fuel projects, and initiating a just transition to a distributed, renewable energy future.

Ahead of the State of the Union, organizers gathered at the White House with an art piece depicting a giant pen and executive order, urging Biden to act on climate "with the stroke of a pen. And last week, groups in the coalition sent another letter to Biden urging him to use the Defense Production Act to jumpstart the deployment of clean energy solutions, like heat pumps, across the country as a response to the crisis in Ukraine.

President Biden has the authority today to use the Defense Production Act to create well-paying, union jobs building just, renewable energy technologies; begin to phase out the quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution created by fossil fuel production on federal lands and waters; and declare a climate emergency to reinstate the ban on crude oil exports, which would have health and climate gains equivalent to shutting down 42 coal plants.

Below are statements from leading climate, social justice, and environmental organizations:


Grassroots/Frontline Groups

"Biden must take bold action by declaring a climate emergency and investing in real clean energy and actually sever the dependence of fossil fuel economy. Indigenous, frontline, youth and grassroot led movements have been demanding that the federal fossil fuel leasing program be reformed to ensure that communities have equity access to clean energy grids and participation in planning processes. It's important for this administration to adopt the principles Environmental justice movements have thoroughly implemented as their center frontline communities and equity to further meaningful climate solutions," Julia Bernal, Executive Director for Pueblo Action Alliance

"Those living in the Arctic are on the cutting edge of the climate crisis. The CPC agrees with us, thousands of organizations agree with us, now is the time to declare a climate emergency and stop the expansion of fossil fuels. The Biden Administration needs to follow this grassroots-led movement and the science backing us and stop approving fossil fuel projects like the Willow Master development plan," Siqiniq Maupin, Executive Director of Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic

"Biden is failing to support Tribal sovereignty each day he allows the Dakota Access pipeline to flow. This CPC announcement is another reminder for Biden to stand with the people, declare a climate emergency, uphold Indigenous rights and protect the water." Waniya Locke, Standing Rock Grassroots

"The climate crisis is rooted in lack of oversight of extraction that is happening in frontline communities. It is time for Biden to go beyond performative politics and show communities of color that we will be represented. He needs to declare a climate emergency and stop fossil fuel destruction, including extraction on federal fossil fuel leases that pollute in communities like ours." Cesar Aguirre, Senior community organizer, Central California Environmental Justice Network

National Organizations:

"President Biden has demonstrated his lack of commitment to the very communities who elected him to office. He has stalled on climate action, abandoning Black, Indigenous, communities of the global majority, and other frontline communities who don't have time to negotiate with neoliberals, capitalists, and white supremacists because their very existences are at stake. This is why we stand alongside the CPC to demand Biden use his executive powers to declare a Climate Emergency and ban drilling on federal lands and waters. Our collective futures depend on bold climate action now." Ashley McCray, Green New Deal Network Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network

"There's no question that we're in a climate emergency. The caucus is absolutely right that President Biden should declare it so we can build the energy security that only renewable energy can bring," said Jean Su, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's energy justice program. "Biden can act quickly, without Congress and without Joe Manchin, to stop oil and gas drilling on public lands and unlock his emergency powers to end the era of deadly fossil fuels. He must answer the caucus's call and turbo-charge the renewable energy transition with the Defense Production Act." Jean Su, director, Energy Justice Program, Center for Biological Diversity.

"As communities across this country are facing the realities of a rigged economy, a public health crisis, racial injustice, and climate change, Congress and the Biden Administration must use every tool at their disposal to deliver comprehensive, transformative, and immediate change. The announcement of the CPC Executive Action slate is a bold and exciting phase of progressive power that demonstrates Progressives understand there is no time to waste. Declaring a national climate emergency and working to end our reliance on fossil fuels are two critical steps in addressing the climate crisis our communities are facing and Indivisible is thrilled to see these priorities included in a slate that works to address climate change, invest in good paying union jobs, and prioritize a just and equitable society." Ann Clancy, Associate Director of Climate Policy, Indivisible

Established in 1990 within the United States, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN's activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.