The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Cassidy DiPaola,

After Midterms, Biden's Climate Agenda Must Focus on Executive Actions

Environmental justice promises and pledges around fossil fuels remain unmet; executive actions necessary to meet Biden's own climate targets.


No matter the outcome of the midterm elections on Tuesday night, President Biden will need to follow through on a bold course of executive actions in order to meet his own climate commitments and fulfill unmet promises on environmental justice and limiting fossil fuel development.

"During his first two years in office, President Biden failed to use his full executive powers to address the climate crisis and protect our communities from the ravages of fossil fuels," said People Vs. Fossil Fuels, a coalition of over 1,200 grassroots, frontline and national organizations in a statement released ahead of Tuesday's election. "It's past time for President Biden to declare a climate emergency and block the federal approval of all new fossil fuel projects that are threatening our climate and communities."

Since before President Biden took office, People vs. Fossil Fuels has been pushing him to use his extensive executive powers to address the climate crisis and fossil fuel pollution that is poisoning people across the country, especially working families and Black, Brown, Indigenous, people of the global majority.

While the Biden Administration has taken actions to boost the growth of clean energy, they have done little to directly address the production, export, and burning of fossil fuels, the most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and a significant source of local pollution. If anything, the administration has gone backwards: failing to fulfill a promise to ban fossil fuel development on public lands, failing to stop controversial projects like the Line 3 pipeline, encouraging the growth of fossil fuel exports, and allowing for massive industry handouts in the Inflation Reduction Act that passed through Congress.

"Environmental Justice communities have experienced a long history of health disparities for generations stemming from the disproportionate burden of fossil fuel pollution and polluting infrastructure. Not only do fossil fuels cause land, water, and air damage but they also create a health and safety hazard in Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities where they are overwhelmingly sited and the workers who maintain them. Enough is enough. Our elected officials have failed us time after time by continually saying yes to industry. It's time we take our power back. It's time we get folks in office who care about people," said Roishetta Ozane, Organizing Director, Healthy Gulf.

These failures on fossil fuels aren't just a policy concern: they're costing lives. Last year, a study from Harvard University and others concluded that 1 in 5 deaths worldwide are caused by fossil fuel air pollution. This includes nearly 350,000 Americans every year, with the impacts concentrated in low-income and Black, Brown, Indigenous, people of the global majority communities.

Many environmental justice, frontline, and Indigenous organizations have been frustrated not only by the administration's lack of action, but their willingness to even meet with the communities most impacted by climate change, fossil fuels, and their own policy decisions.

In October 2021, People vs. Fossil Fuels mobilized over a thousand people from frontline communities across the United States to come to Washington, D.C. and engage in civil disobedience to pressure President Biden to act. In September 2022, the coalition mobilized again to successfully stop Senator Manchin's dirty deal which would have fast tracked dangerous fossil fuel projects, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Below are additional quotes from leading climate and environmental justice organizations within People vs. Fossil Fuels:

"As I fight alongside frontline organizers across the country to stop all new fossil fuel projects and ensure a livable future, it's clear to me how strong we are when we are united. President Biden should take note of this and join us. He can start by declaring a climate emergency," Russell Chisholm, Mountain Valley Watch Coordinator.

"For 500 years, Indigenous people of the Americas have been ignored about the ongoing genocide and ecocide we have allowed to be committed by our world leaders. Biden and his administration has been anything but 'bold' in our climate crisis -- meanwhile, sacrifice zones of millions of Americans have been the ones to pay for his cowardice. Stick to your promises President Biden, or a new age of Indigenous leadership will remind you yet again who's land you are on." Tasina Sapa Win, Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective

"The Arctic is warming at an estimated 4 to 5 times faster than the rest of the world, which is exponentially faster than previously predicted, making it ground zero for climate change. Alaska Natives experience the impacts of catastrophic climate change first hand, along with many other Black and Indigenous people worldwide. President Biden and world leaders have a responsibility to keep our people safe and ensure a healthy world for future generations. The time is now to declare a climate emergency, stop all fossil fuel extraction, and allow for a just transition into renewable energy. Stop the Willow Project and all fossil fuel projects." Sonia Ahkivgak, Social Outreach Coordinator, Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic

"Indigenous communities turned out to vote for Biden because we needed immediate climate action and he has failed to offer any meaningful leadership. Instead he has allowed big oil to continue to make windfall profits and make Indigenous communities sacrifice zones and ignored our sovereignty to give oil and gas access to destroy the water, land and air quality in our communities. We have passed the point of keeping warming to 1.5C and we will see much heartache and devastation from climate chaos in the years ahead. No matter how the elections turnout, he has the executive power to take immediate action and we will keep pushing him to put politics aside and do what's right for all of humanity." Ikiya Collective

"Communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis and environmental racism turned out in droves to elect Biden on the promise that he'd deliver swift climate action. But two years into his presidency, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and other fossil fuel companies posted windfall profits, while communities across the country and Global South endured record heat waves, devastating floods, and other climate change fueled disasters. Regardless of the midterm results, we need Biden to exercise executive power and end the era of fossil fuel greed!" Erika Thi Patterson, Campaign Director, Action Center on Race and the Economy

Fossil Free Media is a nonprofit media lab that supports the movement to end fossil fuels and address the climate emergency.