A group of youth climate activists were arrested Monday for blocking the entrance to President Biden’s campaign headquarters in Delaware while demanding his administration “end the era of fossil fuels.”
According to the left-wing climate group Sunrise Movement, 21 of its members were arrested and roughly 80 others were involved in the protest in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday. The activists warned that, if Biden failed to take definitive action combating climate change, millions of young voters would stay home in November.
“Climate change is at our doorstep. Our homes are flooding, we’re breathing in toxic air, Black people like me are dying while the President expands oil and gas production to record levels,” Sunrise campaign director Kidus Girma said in a statement after the protest. “Then President Biden goes around and claims he’s a climate president and wants our votes? That’s bulls—.”
While Girma failed to specify which actions Biden has taken to boost greater reliance on fossil fuels, the Sunrise Movement has repeatedly called for him to formally declare global warming a national emergency, an action he has resisted throughout his presidency. A climate emergency declaration would enable Biden to bypass Congress and take a number of executive actions not normally granted to the White House.
In addition, the Sunrise Movement broadly opposes all oil, gas and coal development, calling instead for an aggressive nationwide transition to green energy sources like wind and solar. Currently, fossil fuels generate the majority of domestic electricity and support both the transportation and manufacturing sectors in America, according to federal data.
“There are dozens of things he could sign into law tomorrow if he wanted to protect low-income communities of color like mine that live next to fossil fuel sites that are killing us through cancer and asthma,” Sunrise Movement volunteer Ariela Lara said.
“He could make sure that every time a climate disaster hits, no one gets evicted and everyone has access to free health care,” she continued. “He could end the fossil fuel era by refusing to approve a single oil or gas well in this country. Biden can’t build renewables on Monday, build fossil fuels on Tuesday, and then claim to be climate president. That’s not how science works, and young voters know it.”
But while Biden has yet to declare a climate emergency, he has repeatedly taken aim at the fossil fuel industry while seeking to boost green energy.
Shortly after taking office, the president signed executive orders to pause all oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, and canceled permits for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project. Although a federal court eventually intervened to force the Biden administration to continue leasing, it has dragged its feet on holding new lease sales and created regulatory roadblocks for producers.
And Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which earmarks tens of billions of dollars for green energy programs. His administration has also unleashed an onslaught of environmental regulations to curb fossil fuel power plant electricity generation, push electric vehicles and incentivize the electrification of the residential sector.
“There is only one existential threat we face in this world, and that’s the environment,” Biden remarked during a campaign reception Thursday.
“I mean, it literally is the existential threat. It’s even more consequential than nuclear power, nuclear war,” he added. “That would be horrible and awful, and it would just make the environment incredibly worse. But it’s about the environment.”
The Biden campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.