Energy & Environment

House progressives call on Biden to end all new fossil fuel permitting

A dozen progressive House members called on President Biden to reject new permitting for fossil fuel infrastructure, weeks after the administration announced it would resume lease sales on federal land.

The members, led by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), wrote that a full shutdown of fossil fuel production is necessary to achieve the administration's environmental justice aims.

"Our neighbors in St. Louis are already dying from extreme heat, dangerous floods, and pollution driven by the same fossil fuels driving the climate crisis," Bush added in a statement. "So far, President Biden has been working with us on a great agenda of public investments, but his ongoing support for the fossil fuel industry threatens to undermine our work. The President is doing so much, but he is simply not doing everything he can to deliver climate justice and save lives - and we need him to now. We cannot allow fossil fuel leases and infrastructure projects to move forward and undermine our collective work - they represent a direct threat to Black, brown, and Indigenous lives."

The Biden administration imposed a temporary moratorium on all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands in January. After a court halted the order over the summer, the administration appealed the ruling but has in the meantime resumed lease sales.

The letter was also signed by Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Jesus Garcia (D-Ill.), Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and James McGovern (D-Mass.).

Several of its signatories, including Omar, Pressley and Tlaib, visited the site of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota in September to call on Biden to take action against the installation. Although Biden halted the Keystone XL pipeline upon taking office, progressives have expressed frustration over lack of similar action on Line 3 and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The signers who visited the site point to Line 3 as an example of the need to take drastic action, writing "the mistakes and failures that allowed Line 3 and other pipelines to proceed must not be repeated. Our communities demand better."

In addition to the ongoing pipeline battles, the letter comes as the progressive wing of the party is struggling to preserve aggressive climate action in the Democratic reconciliation package. Last week, The New York Times reported a key clean energy program, the Clean Electricity Performance Program, is likely to be struck from the bill to address Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.V.) objections.

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