Activists Push to Ban Fracking


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Source: Truthout

 

Photo by John Gomez/Shutterstock.com

On Wednesday, the Biden administration delivered a second surge of orders responding to activist demands to address the climate emergency head-on at every level of the federal government. Like no mandate a U.S. president has signed off on before, the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad lays out a plan to measure and mitigate pollution that has disproportionately harmed low-income, Black, Indigenous and other communities of color living on the fence lines of industry for decades. It is a government-wide attempt to avert the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis and build a more vibrant and equitable society that acknowledges the legacy of harm over a century of burning fossil fuels and overlooking industry has caused communities of color and other vulnerable communities that are now the most prone to the floods, fires, disease and displacement of climate chaos.

The directive establishes the first-ever National Climate Task Force and a jobs program committed to spurring clean energy jobs in communities historically employed by the coal, oil and gas industries. In this way it aims to counteract negative effects on employment caused by the winding down of the entire fossil fuel sector, which scientists and activists have named as the most essential task in limiting warming to 1.5°C or lower. Biden’s order pulls from the visions of community organizers, mentioning plans to remediate former brownfields (previously developed and often contaminated lands that are not currently in use) and turn them into clean energy hubs. It also seeks to restore coastal ecosystems like oyster reefs, mangroves and kelp forests that buffer the built environment from extreme weather and rising seas. In following the directive to “listen to science and meet the moment,” the commitment sets out to channel 40 percent of the benefits of federal investments in clean energy, transit, housing and clean water infrastructure, among other overhauls, to marginalized communities specifically.

“It’s almost as if we helped shape the platform,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joked, echoing a momentary sigh of relief on the part of progressive organizers for whom the announcement signals they may see some demands for racial and environmental justice realized after a grueling season of campaigning for Democrats, who now control the White House and both houses of Congress. In combination with Biden’s initial actions last week, including canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and rejoining the Paris agreement, the Biden administration’s climate orders address at least some elements in 15 of the 25 orders put forward in an action blueprint advocated by the coalition of progressive organizations, Build Back Fossil Free.

Leanna First-Arai is a freelance journalist who covers environmental and climate (in)justice. Her work has appeared in Undark, Sierra Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Outside Magazine, on New England Public Radio and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter: @FirstArai.

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