President Biden risks tainting climate progress with fossil fuel push

Joe Biden looking to the right and holding papers with trees and buildings in the background

Adam Schultz, Biden for President, Flickr

Support for dirty permitting deal, Willow project would detract from recent, future breakthroughs

President Biden is at risk of severely undermining the historic climate bill he signed into law just a few months ago—and jeopardizing his administration’s climate goals moving forward.  

The president has reportedly blessed the inclusion of a dirty permitting deal in “must-pass” legislation, supporting a measure that would tear down bedrock environmental safeguards and weaken tools communities use to fight dangerous development. While the deal has now been rejected in Congress three times, it is unclear whether it could be reintroduced in some form in the coming months. Past iterations would have forced completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which threatens communities, waterways and wildlands in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. 

Protesters holding signs with trees and the capitol dome visible in the background

September 2022 rally against a permitting deal and the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Washington, DC


Separately, the Biden administration could soon approve plans for a massive oil project in Alaska’s Western Arctic. The "Willow project” would add more than 250 million metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere over the next 30 years and pave the way for additional oil development in the region. 

Together, these endorsements amount to a big boost for fossil fuel development that is directly at odds with the White House’s stated aim of tackling the climate crisis.  

We’re just a few weeks removed from President Biden re-committing the U.S. to emissions reduction targets at the COP27 climate conference. His administration is still taking an extended victory lap for passage of the Inflation Reduction Act this summer. It’s time for the president and other climate champs to choose a lane: either wholeheartedly pursue the solutions needed to rapidly and justly transform the way we produce and use energy, or undermine recent positive steps by (yet again) sticking Native peoples; Black, Brown and other systemically marginalized communities; and all future generations with the bill for our ongoing fossil fuel addiction.    

How you can help

On the verge of a new Congress sweeping into town and dramatically re-setting the policy agenda in Washington, DC, this is an especially critical moment to shore up the climate progress of recent years—not tear it down. 

We don't know what the future holds for the dirty permitting deal. But one action you can take right now is to use the online portal hosted by Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic and submit a comment to STOP the Willow project. In addition to being incompatible with addressing the climate crisis, Willow would disproportionately impact Nuiqsut, a mostly Iñupiaq village in the region that already lives with the toll of past oil development 

In the coming weeks, the Biden administration will likely make a decision on whether to move forward with the Willow project. If they make the wrong choice and the project advances, we will raise up opportunities to stop it in its tracks. Stay tuned.