On April 21st, Jose Bravo, executive director of the Just Transition Alliance, attended the White House signing of the new Environmental Justice Executive Order 14096.
While Biden vowed continuing staunch support for White House commitments made to EJ communities over three decades ago by then President Clinton, most veteran EJ movement leaders are keenly aware that Executive Order 12898 never had the teeth needed to stop polluting industries. Nevertheless, we see that this renewed executive order presents an opportunity to codify effective practices and procedures that will mandate federal government agencies to eventually integrate environmental justice into their operations.
At this historic event, President Biden said that it was time to take away the subsidies that fossil fuel companies receive. José noted that the administration is finally listening to us on the question of removing fossil fuel industry subsidies as we have urged all along. Now the administration needs to redirect funding from the IRA towards building the infrastructure needed for non-polluting, mass public transit that is free for everyone in the United States and its territories. We need to re-tool cities like Detroit to produce such mass public transit systems instead of single family EVs that people in EJ communities cannot afford. This would create thousands of jobs in both the infrastructure development and the production of non-polluting mass transit vehicles. Furthermore, Jose added that this would get the US closer to achieving “real” carbon emissions reductions and fulfilling commitments that were made in the Paris Agreement, even though the goals in the Paris Agreement are barely adequate as they are.
We believe that the real solution is to leave fossil fuels in the ground and to start that process as soon as possible. Despite the Executive Order, we fear that President Biden is being led in the wrong direction by the same fossil fuel corporations that are literally buying into a whole host of false solutions and expecting to make billions of dollars in the process.
Biden’s approval of the Willow Project gives a major life extension to fossil fuels with $8 billion being allocated to oil drilling in Alaska. The administration also opened 73.3 million acres of federal waters for bidding in the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Inflation Reduction Act and sold 1.6 million acres to fossil fuel companies. Additionally, through new legislation such as the IRA and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden Administration is handing over billions of dollars of public subsidies to dirty energy industries by investing in false solutions such as CCS, Bioenergy, Hydrogen Fuels and Nuclear Power.
The Just Transition Alliance believes we need real solutions that transition us away from fossil fuels and prioritize the leadership, needs, and democratic self-determination of those historically most harmed. Read Hoodwinked in the Hothouse to learn more about the difference between real and false solutions: https://climatefalsesolutions.org/