In an open letter (pdf), a coalition of 145 environmental groups and social justice activists has called on Democratic Party presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden to ban fossil fuel representatives, lobbyists, or executives from advisory positions on his campaign team—and, should he be elected President in November, from his cabinet and administration.
A 501(c)4 non-profit organization, the Oil Change coalition says that it is "dedicated to supporting real climate leadership, exposing the true costs of fossil fuels, and building a just, equitable, and renewable energy future in the United States."
In their letter, the organization cites a recent poll by Data for Progress, a data science organization dedicated to providing data to "support progressive activists and causes." Data for Progress say their June 27 poll (pdf) shows that voters oppose fossil fuel industry lobbyists working in the White House “by a 22-point margin.”
Praise for Biden—and a Warning
The Oil Change group praised Joe Biden for his "bold plans to combat the climate crisis and create millions of good-paying, union jobs in a clean energy economy," and applauded his placement of "environmental justice" at the heart of his plans.
"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," the group's letter said.
However, some contributors warned that the inclusion of persons in his campaign with connections to the fossil fuel industry could mean a loss of support.
“Joe Biden is championing the most aggressive climate and environmental justice plan of any presidential candidate ever,” said Kaniela Ing, Climate Justice Director with People’s Action. "But if he hires fossil fuel representatives, he’ll lose any credibility he has built among youth activists, frontline communities, and all of us impacted by the climate crisis."
“Biden’s pledge to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies is sure to become an empty promise with fossil fuel emissaries whispering in his ear,” said Karen Grainey, co-director of Center for a Sustainable Coast. "We do not need a repeat of Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy which gave us the largest expansion of oil and gas production in U.S. history."
Lauren Maunus, legislative manager at the Sunrise Movement, said the coming election is a matter of life or death for the young generation. "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can only win if young people show up to vote for them in historic numbers," said Maunus. "It’s time for Biden to show young people he will fight for our generation by publicly committing to keep fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, and consultants off his team. We cannot afford this polluting influence in a Biden campaign or administration.”
The Joe Biden Plan
As part of his plan to "Build Back Better," former Vice President Joe Biden has said that he will prioritize “environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity” in his Clean Energy Plan to combat climate change.
The Democratic Party’s presidential candidate says his $2 trillion Biden Plan will move to ensure a carbon-free power sector by 2035, which will be accompanied by massive investments in electricity grids and storage to support the construction of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations. The upgrading of 4 million buildings and the weatherization of 2 million homes will create 1 million new jobs, according to the plan.
Biden says that his climate plan will help ensure that the U.S. economy will be “less vulnerable to shocks and better able to bounce back from future threats.”
However, the American Petroleum Institute (API) insists that it is impossible to address climate change without involving America’s oil and natural gas industries. The Institute says that U.S. oil and gas leads the world in reducing carbon emissions while providing “affordable, reliable and cleaner” energy to American citizens.
“We stand at a crossroads for the nation’s energy future, and the choices policymakers make in 2020 and beyond will determine whether we build on America’s energy progress or shift to foreign energy sources with lower environmental standards,” said API President and CEO, Mike Sommers.
Referring to Biden’s green energy proposal, Sommers said, “This plan would require a massive amount of infrastructure buildout, a goal we all share. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when we’ve seen opposition to energy projects of all kinds with activist groups obstructing development every step of the way.”
According to the API, the United States has reduced carbon emissions more than any other nation over the past 20 years.