Major Protests Will Urge President Biden To Act On Fossil Fuels

Above photo: Indigenous Environmental Network.

“We have everything to lose and no time to wait.”

Washington, D.C. — Thousands of people are expected to take part in a week of protests at the White House this October 11-15 to pressure President Biden to declare a climate emergency and end all new fossil fuel projects.

Composed of hundreds of Indigenous, Black, environmental, climate justice, youth, and social justice organizations, the Build Back Fossil Free coalition will launch the People Vs. Fossil Fuels: Biden’s Test week of action in advance of the Glasgow COP26 Climate Summit. With that summit representing what many consider to be our “last, best chance” to avoid climate catastrophe, the week of action will urge the Administration to take action already within its authority to finally begin to fulfill its climate commitments.

To announce the event, the coalition released a new video inviting communities from across the country to join them in solidarity in D.C as they demand President Biden and his administration pick a side: People Vs. Fossil Fuels.

“As fires burn, oceans rise and cities flood, we’re mobilizing to Washington D.C. to demand that President Biden act on climate justice right now. The fossil fuel industry has brought devastation to our homelands and it’s time that we bring this fight to Biden’s doorstep,” said Joye Braun, Frontline Community Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Despite President Biden’s climate rhetoric, his administration has failed to stop major projects like the Line 3 tar sands pipeline, defended oil drilling in the Arctic, promoted fossil fuel exports, and allowed drilling, mining and fracking to continue on Native and public lands. We showed up to vote and we will continue to show up to make him uncomfortable in his inaction until the drastic needed steps are taken to mitigate climate change and protect Mother Earth.”

While the Biden Administration has proclaimed the climate crisis to be a “code red” situation, there are numerous fossil fuel projects that could be rejected by executive action that are moving forward right now — and each would contribute significantly to exacerbating the climate crisis. Activists representing many of these individual fights against fossil fuel projects — from the Formosa Plastics facility to the Line 3 pipeline that is scheduled to begin operations this weekend — are planning to attend the week of action to pressure the Biden Administration.

“I’m looking forward to going to D.C. to speak to President Biden to ask him to refuse all fossil fuel projects. If Formosa Plastics is built, it would be a death sentence for the people over here. We want to live and we want to breathe clean air,” said Sharon Lavigne, the executive director of Rise St James and a recent recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

“We’re going to make it clear that we’re here to protect our land and waters,” said Siqniq Maupin, director of Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic, who is fighting oil drilling in Alaska.

Their message to the White House is clear: “President Biden, you cannot claim to be a climate leader when you are still supporting fossil fuels. Stand with frontline communities, stand with future generations, stop approving fossil fuel projects, declare a climate emergency now.”

“Biden is faced with a momentous decision, and I and others will be gathering in Washington to encourage that decision: to declare a climate emergency, stop the petrochem build-out, and usher in a just transition to a clean, green renewables economy,” said John Beard, director of the Port Arthur Community Action Network, which is fighting oil and gas refineries and export facilities in the Gulf Coast.

President Biden’s failure to act on fossil fuels is undermining the administration’s own climate goals. Drilling on public lands contributes nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., while the emissions from a single pipeline, Line 3, will add the equivalent emissions of 50 coal fired power plants.

“President Biden came into office promising bold action to transform our economy with renewable energy and good jobs, but he passed the buck to a dysfunctional Congress,” said Jean Su, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice program. “Biden has immense executive powers to speed the end of the fossil fuel era and ignite a just, renewable-energy revolution. Without executive action on fossil fuels, there’s no way for the president to protect us from the climate emergency. We’re calling on Biden to reclaim his power from coal- and gas-state Senators and show us he can be our Climate President.”

Meanwhile, the impacts of the climate and pollution crisis have only grown worse. Hurricanes have devastated communities from New Orleans to New York City. Wildfires have burned millions of acres across the West. Historic droughts and heatwaves have gripped most of the country. And every day, millions of Americans, especially Black, Brown, and Indigenous People, breathe air and drink water poisoned by fossil fuel pollution.

“Miami is a place where climate disasters have become as familiar as sunshine. We are so glad to be joining to descend upon D.C. and make our voices heard, because we cannot negotiate any more. This is a matter of life or death,” said John Paul Mejia, a spokesperson for the Sunrise Movement.

Actions will take place every day between October 11 and 15, starting at 8am at McPherson Square. The themes of each day are as follows:

  • Monday, October 11: Indigenous Peoples Day.

  • Tuesday, October 12: Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis.

  • Wednesday, October 13: Climate chaos is happening now.

  • Thursday, October 14: We need real solutions, not false promises.

  • Friday, October 15: We did not vote for fossil fuels. Youth-led action.

Groups involved in Build Back Fossil Free and the mobilization include 350.org, Arm in Arm, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Climate Justice Alliance, Food and Water Watch, Fridays for Future USA, Friends of the Earth USA, Future Coalition, Global Exchange, Global Grassroots Justice Alliance, GreenFaith, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, Honor the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, NDN Collective, Oil Change International, Our Revolution, Power Shift Network, Presente, Pueblo Action Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, Seventh Generation, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, Unitarian Universalist Mass Action, WildEarth Guardians, Zero Hour, Mazaska Talks and more.

For more information visit: peoplevsfossilfuels.org