Some environmental groups, however, are worried that the campaign’s ambitious goals could be undermined by influence from the fossil fuel industry — and now they’re calling on Biden to commit to an administration completely free of industry representation. In a public letter released Tuesday, more than 140 environmental organizations asked that Biden “ban all fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, and representatives from any advisory or official position” in his “campaign, transition team, cabinet, and administration.”
The letter’s signatories include the Sunrise Movement, MoveOn, Zero Hour, Greenpeace, 350 Action, and Indivisible.
According to Charlie Jiang, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace USA, the letter was conceived after prominent climate organizations encountered reports that Biden was being advised by people with ties to the fossil fuel industry — and, in particular, to natural gas companies.
“As early as last June, when he launched his campaign,” Jiang said, “[Fossil fuel representatives] were weighing in on his climate platform.”
The Biden campaign did not respond to Grist’s request for comment in time for publication.
While the letter neither names specific advisers nor accuses the campaign of not currently living up to its call, certain informal Biden advisers have elicited controversy in the past. In mid-2019, Reuters reported that former President Obama’s climate policy chief Heather Zichal was “part of a team advising Biden on climate change.” This might not have inspired controversy, except for the fact that, after leaving the Obama administration, Zichal took a compensated position on the board of Cheniere Energy, a major natural gas company. Another informal Biden campaign adviser, former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, sits on the board of Southern Company, a fossil fuel-dependent utility.
The fact that both of these figures are former Obama administration officials may not be coincidental. Many climate organizers reject a return to the Obama administration’s moderate approach to climate action. They say it will take more to undo the environmental damage caused by the current administration.
“The Trump administration has fully embraced these fossil fuel interests. Former oil and gas lobbyists now run the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior,” organizers wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “At their behest, the Trump administration has instigated 100 environmental rollbacks, putting our health and safety at risk.”
Jiang was one of the organizers who helped draft the letter to the former vice president. He argued that oil and gas companies…
Read More: Environmentalists to Biden: Say no to fossil fuel advisers