You can Tell Joe Biden: Keep Fossil Fuel Influence Out
Dear Vice President Biden,
Congratulations on your nomination as the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. As you have said, this is a historic time for our nation. Over 175,000 Americans have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage the nation. Millions are rising up to demand racial justice and an end to white supremacy. Donald Trump has put our democracy on the line with his attacks on our right to vote and threats to contest the election. Meanwhile, the climate emergency is ravaging our country, as supercharged wildfires burn across western states, climate-intensified floods and derechos slam the Midwest, and sea level rise threatens our coasts.
We want to thank you for your bold plans to combat the climate crisis and create millions of good-paying, union jobs in a clean energy economy. We applaud the ways in which you have put environmental justice at the heart of your plans, making sure that the communities of color who are on the front lines of this crisis are at the forefront of its solutions. Implementing your plans would be a major step toward putting this country back on track to meet our global commitments under the Paris Agreement while centering the communities most harmed by environmental injustice.
Your leadership on climate and environmental justice is why we urge you to ban
all fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, and representatives from any advisory or official position on your campaign, transition team, cabinet, and administration.
For decades, oil, gas, and coal executives have lied to the American people about the threat of climate change and lobbied against government action, all while attempting to present themselves as part of the solution. During this election, the American Petroleum Institute is spending upwards of $24,000 per day to mislead voters into thinking that fossil gas is “clean” energy, even though methane emissions associated with gas can make it worse than coal. Meanwhile, fossil fuel corporations have continued to expand their operations, destroy our environment, and pollute communities — especially communities of color — across this nation and around the world.
The Trump Administration has fully embraced these fossil fuel interests. Former oil and gas lobbyists now run the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior. At their behest, the Trump administration has instigated 100 environmental rollbacks, putting our health and safety at risk. During the coronavirus pandemic, the administration has continued to slash environmental protections and give billions of dollars in bailouts to fossil fuels.
These abuses have real costs in the communities that you have pledged to serve. Nearly half of Americans now breathe polluted air, the vast majority of which comes from burning fossil fuels, according to research by the American Lung Association. According to a 2016 NAACP report, 71% of African Americans live in counties in violation of air pollution standards. Indigenous people have seen their rights trampled to build dangerous new pipelines like Dakota Access and Keystone XL. Latina women in Texas who live near gas flaring are seeing a 50% increase in premature births.
To advance environmental justice, you must stand up to fossil fuel CEOs, stop the expansion of oil, gas and coal production, and rapidly transition us away from fossil fuels. A Biden administration free of fossil fuel interests would signal your commitment to restoring a government by and for the American people.
Banning fossil fuel representatives isn’t just good policy — it’s good politics. According to a new Data for Progress poll, American voters oppose fossil fuel industry lobbyists or representatives working in the executive branch by a 22-point margin. Sixty-one (61) percent of Democrats oppose fossil fuel industry representatives working in the administration, while only 22 percent are open to the idea. Ruling out positions for fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, and representatives is a critical way to show your commitment to a future that prioritizes people, not polluters.
This critical need to advance climate and environmental justice is why we are concerned by initial reports that people with ties to fossil fuel interests have been advising your campaign and may be angling for roles in your administration. People who left government to serve on a fossil fuel industry board, enrich themselves as oil and gas advisors, receive funding from fossil fuel companies to espouse “reasonable” climate positions, or work with industry front groups should have no role in a Biden administration or campaign. Neither should fossil fuel backers on Wall Street, who have attempted to profit off pollution.
We appreciate your team’s recent reiteration of your commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as part of your comprehensive approach to climate action and environmental justice. A commitment from you to ban all fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, and representatives from your administration would go far to assuage any lingering concerns about your climate commitments that may have been raised when the DNC dropped support for ending fossil fuel subsidies from the 2020 Platform.
Many thousands of talented experts, advocates, and community leaders who do not represent coal, oil, and gas companies would gladly serve in your administration and help move our country forward into the clean energy future. They’ve shown the expertise, principles, and dedication that should be a requirement for any administration role. We urge you to choose them over the fossil fuel CEOs, lobbyists, and representatives who are profiting from climate destruction.
We thank you for making combatting the climate crisis a top priority for your campaign. We look forward to working alongside you to build back better, create a new, clean energy economy that creates millions of good-paying, union jobs, and address the crises of climate change, COVID-19, mass unemployment, and the environmental injustice and racism that have plagued our nation for too long. Millions of us are ready to get to work: There’s no need to slow us down with people tied to fossil fuel interests.