Tell President Obama That Climate Leaders Don’t Drill In The Arctic – He Is Still In Denial On Fossil Fuel Extraction

Excerpt from: CREDO Action

President Obama has now returned from his Alaska trip — where he used some of the strongest rhetoric yet to make a moral case for urgent action against climate change… in the place he just allowed Shell to drill in the Arctic.

Before he left, CREDO launched our campaign saying that allowing Arctic drilling was hypocritical, comparing it to George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment.

You took action and it resonated. Our campaign and video helped shape media coverage of the trip, with coverage in the New York Times, CNN, USA Today, The Guardian, Slate, The Nation, and others – I was even on the NBC Nightly News.

Perhaps the best coverage was on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show, where he made White House Spokesman Josh Earnest directly answer to our charges that it was hypocrisy for the president to tout his record on climate change while approving drilling for oil in the Arctic.1

It’s clear from Earnest’s response, and the Alaska trip in general, that the White House was prepared to defend the Arctic decision on safety standards, but were somehow blindsided by the reality that Arctic drilling is a climate issue.

And so it seems that despite his strong rhetoric, President Obama is still in denial when it comes to the climate impacts of fossil fuel extraction. We think it’s pretty simple: We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

While the president has been touring Alaska, the media have been debating our charge of hypocrisy, and what President Obama does and does not believe. His administration’s talking points focus on the so-called demand-side argument: The way to reduce fossil fuel consumption is to reduce demand, and not worry about what is coming out of the ground or where it’s coming from.

That’s simply wrong, for many reasons.2

  • Two steps forward, one step back isn’t the climate leadership we need. Allowing new resources to be developed locks-in their production for decades. And, fights to keep the biggest pools of carbon in the ground are making our movement more powerful.
  • The Keystone XL campaign may only slow development of one pool of carbon, and stopping it might not reduce emissions, but the #NOKXL resistance has catalyzed our movement, making it more powerful, and defeating fossil fuels all over the country – from tar sands victories in Portland, Maine to fracking bans in Colorado, to coal export terminals blocked in Oregon and Washington. This is exactly why we are so excited to announce in a few days the recipients of our climate heroes grants to amazing activists fighting fossil fuels across the country.
  • This movement has created the space, and need, for President Obama to address climate head on as he did on his Alaska trip, (even if his policies are still falling woefully short). In Alaska, the president’s words were truly powerful.
  • He called out climate deniers: “Any so-called leader who does not take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke – is not fit to lead.”
  • He clearly stated the urgency: “On this issue, of all issues, there is such a thing as being too late. That moment is almost upon us.”
  • He expressed the economic reality that our economy doesn’t depend on continuing fossil fuels, it depends on quitting them: “Few things can have as negative an impact on our economy as climate change.”
  • And he outlined the threat in the starkest terms yet: “If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect it. Well, climate change poses the same threat right now.”3

What he didn’t do was announce a change in the “all of the above” policy that continues allowing massive extraction of fossil fuels under the president’s control, including in the Arctic.

The president is right that we have to reduce demand for fossil fuels. But that alone isn’t sufficient. He can’t be a leader unless he makes clear that continuing to allow expansion of fossil fuels is unsustainable. He has to draw a line. (Speaking of lines, Mr. President, we are still awaiting your decision on a very long, very dirty pipeline.)

If he refuses, he will ultimately be remembered as the president who said we must stop the sky from falling, even as he pulled it down on top of us.

Help send the message to President Obama that climate leaders don’t drill the Arctic.

  • Go to CREDO Action to sign a petition to President Obama or to put your message on Facebook, Twitter or email.

Thanks for taking action.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. “Obama Calls for Climate Action in Alaska,” MSNBC, 8/31/15
2. “A Convenient Lie: Why Fossil Fuel Supply Matters for the Climate,” Oil Change International 3. ” Remarks by the President at the GLACIER Conference — Anchorage, AK,” 9/1/15


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