By Emily Wurth
The writer lives in Brentwood and is the managing director of Organizing at Food & Water Watch, an organization that fights for a livable climate, and safe food and water.
On his first day in office, President Biden promised the American people that after a dearth of leadership under President Trump, he would restore science-backed climate policy. In an executive order on the subject, Biden laid out his promises to become the climate president we so desperately need.
But where is that science-backed leadership now?
Scientific consensus dictates that we must immediately ramp down our reliance on fossil fuels, stop new drilling and fracking, and move as quickly as possible to a renewable energy future. Scientists of all stripes from the International Energy Agency to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have released dire reports, warning of the need to urgently move off fossil fuels. So far, these recommendations are falling on deaf ears.
President Biden’s administration has failed to commit our country to a path off fossil fuels. The evidence is everywhere, in the crude oil running through the newly completed Line 3 pipeline and in the lease sales continuing unhindered to sell off our precious public lands to oil and gas drillers. Allowing these fossil fuel projects to continue as climate-fueled disasters continue to take place across the country is terrifying.
The Biden administration is also propping up false climate solutions that appease the fossil fuel industry and slow real climate action. In months of meticulously tracking the Biden administration’s stance on climate policy, we’ve found systematic efforts to promote industry-friendly schemes like carbon capture and sequestration and “renewable natural gas.”
In Maryland, even though we banned fracking in 2017, the threat of these false climate solutions looms large. Our state’s renewable portfolio standard includes multiple loopholes that allow polluting energy sources like “renewable natural gas” or biogas to count as “clean” energy sources. Just last week, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved the use of biogas in state pipelines, providing a lifeline to fossil fuel infrastructure in our region. So long as there is a financial incentive to keep building pipelines and power plants, fossil fuels and the corporations that profit from them will stick around.
Tackling climate change requires real solutions, not false promises. President Biden’s failure to follow the recommendations of climate scientists is actually threatening to take us backward. For decades, our government has put corporate profits above the health and safety of their own citizens. It’s time for President Biden to demonstrate the bold leadership needed to take on this existential threat.
Last week, more than 300 scientists sent a letter to President Biden, demanding he follow climate science and use his authority to stop new fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. This week, Marylanders from across the state are marching with those scientists and with frontline activists from around the country in holding the president to it.
We are bringing the climate movement to Washington, D.C., to urge that President Biden side with the people, not fossil fuels. Following the science means stopping fossil fuels, and pursuing real solutions — not false promises.