Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 2, 2023


Gaby Sarri-Tobar, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 594-7271,
John Beard, Jr., Port Arthur Community Action Network, (409) 626-1179,
Betamia Coronel, Center for Popular Democracy, (347) 820-4699,
Camila Ruiz Gallardo, Earthworks, (305) 215-4259,

Congressional Resolution Urges Biden to Declare Climate Emergency, Phase Out Fossil Fuels

WASHINGTON— Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) reintroduced a resolution today calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and use existing non-emergency powers to lead a multiagency, massive-scale response to the climate crisis.

Under such powers, the president can phase out fossil fuel production on public lands and waters, reinstate the crude oil export ban, and end the country’s dirty energy dependence by massively deploying renewable, resilient energy.

The Center for Biological Diversity outlined this suite of executive powers in a groundbreaking report last year.

The resolution follows a deluge of fossil fuel project approvals by the Biden administration this year, including huge expansions of oil drilling and gas exports in the Alaskan Arctic with the Willow Project and Alaska LNG, as well as opening more than 73 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling.

“This resolution gives Biden a path back to protecting people and wildlife instead of oil company profits,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, energy justice campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It also shows how Biden can regain credibility with the many people who feel betrayed by Willow and other disastrous decisions. Biden’s policies are pushing our planet into the danger zone, but there’s still time for him to change course.”

Biden approved more public lands drilling in his first two years than President Trump did at the same point in his presidency. Despite environmental justice pledges, his administration has also backed the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Appalachia and massive gas export expansion in the Gulf.

“President Biden’s claim as the climate president is in peril,” said John Beard, Jr., founder and CEO of Port Arthur Community Action Network. “One day he invites environmental justice leaders to the table, and the next day, he puts us on the menu with another round of mega-polluting fossil fuel projects. Biden needs to pick up his pen and use the powers spelled out in this resolution to start leading and stop fueling the climate emergency.”

Last week, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres rebuked the United States and other “major emitters,” charging that expanded fossil fuel production by the richest countries amounts to a “death sentence” for the planet and urging an end to all licensing and funding of new fossil fuel projects.

“Taking the steps in this resolution can help Biden rectify missteps and make sure that communities, here and abroad, hit first and worst by the climate crisis aren’t sacrificed and left behind,” said Betamia Coronel, a national climate justice organizer at the Center for Popular Democracy. “We need Biden to use his executive powers now. There’s no more time for negotiating with an industry that callously profits off death and destruction.”

In the latest U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the world’s leading climate scientists emphasized that drastic political action is needed to prevent persistent and irrevocable climate damage. The key actions recommended are stopping all new fossil fuel development and phasing out existing fossil fuel usage, accompanied by increasing renewable energy investments.

“It is past time for President Biden to live up to his promise and use every tool in his toolbox to address the climate crisis," said Lauren Pagel, policy director at Earthworks. “People most impacted by fossil fuel extraction have long demanded that President Biden use his existing authority to end the expansion of polluting industries and steer the U.S. toward a sustainable, just future by declaring a climate emergency. Instead, communities, the climate, wildlife, and future generations continue to be sacrificed to the greed of extractive industries.”

More than 1,200 climate and environmental justice groups in the People Vs. Fossil Fuels coalition have urged President Biden to declare a climate emergency and fully use his executive authorities to stop approving fossil fuel projects and phase out fossil fuel production on public lands and waters.

The sponsors of today’s resolution say the United States’ obligation as the world’s largest historical climate polluter demands that the president act quickly and responsibly to prevent worse damage.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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