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Progressive group slams Biden White House pick over tie to fossil fuel industry

Progressive group slams Biden White House pick over tie to fossil fuel industry
© Bonnie Cash

Progressive environmental group the Sunrise Movement on Tuesday criticized President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE’s selection of Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden faces pressure amid infrastructure negotiations Buttigieg acknowledges 'daylight' between White House, GOP on infrastructure MORE (D-La.) to be his senior adviser over Richmond’s fossil fuel donations. 

The group called the appointment of Richmond, who was also a national co-chairman of the Biden campaign, a “betrayal.”

“One of President-Elect Biden’s very first hires for his new administration has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his Congressional career than nearly any other Democrat, cozied up to Big Oil and Gas, and stayed silent and ignored meeting with organizations in his own community while they suffered from toxic pollution and sea-level rise,” said Varshini Prakash, the group’s executive director, in a statement. 

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“That’s a mistake, and it’s an affront to young people who made President-Elect Biden’s victory possible. President-Elect Biden assured our movement he understands the urgency of this crisis; now, it’s time for him to act like it,” Prakash added. 

In response to the statement, a Biden-Harris transition official stressed that the president-elect “knows that climate change is the challenge that will define our American future” in an email to The Hill. 

“The incoming White House staff members are committed to building an administration that will tackle the climate crisis and fight for environmental justice,” the official said. 

Richmond, who represents parts of the New Orleans area, had nearly $113,000 in campaign donations this cycle from the oil and gas sector, more than any other sector that donated to his campaign, according to Open Secrets

He was also one of a few Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline. 

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Progressive groups have been keeping a close eye on whether Biden will appoint officials to his administration who have worked for, received money from or otherwise expressed support for fossil fuels. 

The Biden transition ethics code also states that the president-elect “aims to ensure that those who serve are aligned with his values and policy priorities, and have not, for example, been leaders at fossil fuel or private prison companies.”

Progressive groups in recent days have also come out against other potential Biden picks over fossil fuels.

On Monday, they urged the transition not to select former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Moniz: Texas blackouts show need to protect infrastructure against climate change The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran MORE to lead the Energy Department, partly due to his past work for British Petroleum, and on Tuesday, they urged Biden away from choosing former Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Bill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (D-Minn.) for Agriculture secretary. 

However, Rep. A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinEnd the practice of hitting children in public schools Political disenfranchisement is fueling environmental injustice White House names members of environmental justice panel MORE (D-Va.), a House colleague of Richmond’s and a longtime Biden supporter, said that Richmond has been supporting “the working men and women of this country.”

“That’s the tragedy that Americans up to now have been faced with, that it’s either fossil fuel jobs or bad-paying jobs. His district has been dependent on fossil fuels,” McEachin said.