Home Posts As President, Biden Is Facing His First Major Climate Protest.
As President, Biden Is Facing His First Major Climate Protest.

As President, Biden Is Facing His First Major Climate Protest.

President Joe Biden's honeymoon period with climate activists appears to be coming to an end on Friday, when Green New Deal supporters descend on the White House to demand that the administration abandon plans to water down its landmark infrastructure proposal.

Volunteers and staffers from the Sunrise Movement plan to rally at the White House shortly after 10 a.m. to protest the Biden administration's decision to prioritize Republican support for his spending package over funding programs activists say are needed to transition the United States to a more secure climate future.

“Now that Biden is in office, that promise of co-governance with progressives and young people has vanished,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, in a statement before the protest. “He’s spent more of his time meeting with a Republican Party that still denies he is the democratically elected President.”

The protest comes nearly three years after Sunrise Movement volunteers occupied then-incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office in an attempt to persuade Democratic Party leaders to champion major new federal interventions in the economy to curb climate change and boost the working class. Dubbed the Green New Deal, the concept quickly gained traction and reshaped the way Democratic candidates, activists, and policymakers approached climate change and the working class.

The Sunrise Movement hounded Biden throughout the presidential primary, giving his climate platform a failing grade on its candidate scorecard and campaigning hard for his left-wing rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). However, once Biden won the nomination, the campaign assembled a unity task force with those in Sanders' camp, which significantly increased the Democratic candidate's climate ambition.

For the first few months of his presidency, Biden won praise from the climate movement, which had previously questioned him. He elevated the White House science adviser to a Cabinet-level position, named climate czars for both domestic and foreign policy, and, while he passed over progressive favorites for top jobs, he frequently appointed those candidates as deputy.

Biden's climate concerto seemed to reach a climax at the end of March, when he unveiled a $2.3 trillion infrastructure package that included billions upon billions of dollars for renewable energy, public transit, and electric vehicles, marking the most significant federal climate investment in history. However, the proposal fell far short of the dollar figure that even conservative modelers say would be nebulous.

The administration outraged environmentalists last week when it defended a massive fossil-fuel drilling project in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve. The so-called Willow Project, led by ConocoPhillips, is slated to produce 590 million barrels of oil over its 30-year lifespan the kind of development that appears to be wildly misaligned with Biden's pledge to transition to renewable energy.

The Sunrise Movement previewed what appeared to be a haphazard list of demands ahead of Friday's event, focusing on Biden's plan to establish a Civilian Climate Corps modeled on a similarly named New Deal-era conservation program.

The nonprofit also wants Biden to prioritize one-on-one meetings with its leaders over Republican lawmakers, whose counterproposal to the infrastructure package sought to eliminate most of the climate provisions.

“It is time for him to meet with us, the young organizers who elected him,” Prakash said in a press release. “This moment demands an infrastructure package that will stop climate change while creating millions of good jobs, and we will not stop until he delivers.”

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