FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2022
Groups Call Out U.S.-EU ‘Joint Task Force for Energy Security’ for Lack of Transparency and Clear Climate Criteria
White House has yet to disclose who is on task force and how climate, environmental justice issues will be considered
WASHINGTON, DC – Climate, environmental justice groups, and members of the Build Back Fossil Free Coalition are raising concerns about a lack of transparency around the U.S.-EU Joint Task Force for Energy Security that the Biden Administration announced on March 25.
Rumors are circulating that the Task Force is already meeting, but the White House has yet to disclose the U.S. members of the group, raising concerns that it could include fossil fuel industry representatives or advisors who will push for a dangerous expansion of gas and liquified natural gas (LNG) infrastructure.
Groups are also concerned that the Task Force seems to lack any criteria on how its decisions will be guided by climate and environmental justice considerations, nor has it any clear public and Tribal consultation process to inform its recommendations.
There was no mention of environmental justice or public and Tribal consultation in the White House’s fact sheet on the Task Force, even though nearly every proposed gas pipeline and LNG export terminal in the United States is facing stiff opposition from local communities, many of which are Tribal and environmental justice communities. Numerous gas pipelines and compressor stations have been stopped over the last few years because of environmental justice concerns and violations.
While the White House’s on the Task Force did note “Diversifying LNG Supplies in Alignment with Climate Objectives,” there was little detail on how this would be done, raising concerns that the Task Force will use vague “net zero” commitments or “greenhouse gas intensity” targets to greenwash a buildout of gas infrastructure that could dramatically increase emissions. The “Fact Sheet” was equally vague when it came to U.S. plans to support European and domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts, simply mentioning that the United States would “expedite planning and approval” for projects.
In the lead up to Earth Day, organizations are calling on the White House to make the following public commitments with regard to the composition and mandate of the Task Force:
- Make the names and affiliations of all Task Force members public.
- Publicly announce criteria for how the recommendations of the Task Force will be guided by climate and environmental justice considerations.
- Announce a process of public consultation and solicitation of public comments, including consultation with Tribes.
- Commit to no new fossil fuel infrastructure and permitting, including new LNG.
- Publicly announce detailed and specific plans for U.S. assistance to Europe to make a rapid transition to electrification, energy efficiency, and truly renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
According to the latest IPCC report, the emissions from existing and currently planned fossil fuel infrastructure is enough to push warming past the 1.5ºC temperature target that the Biden Administration has said it supports. Last year, the International Energy Agency concluded that there should be no new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, including gas, if the world is going to reach net-zero by 2050. Multiple reports have outlined how Europe could get off Russian gas and meet its energy needs without fossil fuels.
“We can expand LNG and gas infrastructure, or we can have a chance at a habitable planet — we can’t have both. Biden and world leaders must listen to communities threatened by fossil-fueled pollution and deadly climate impacts,” said Collin Rees, U.S. Program Manager at Oil Change International. “A lack of transparency could lead to shady backroom deals that doom the climate. We need a clear, transparent process and a commitment to double down on clean energy and real energy security, not the volatile fossil fuel dependency of the past.”
“As climate scientists are ringing the alarm bells about the need to stop expanding fossil fuel development and vulnerable communities are already suffering the impacts of the climate crisis and fossil fuel pollution, the last thing the Biden administration should be doing is allowing for an expansion of fracked gas infrastructure that would worsen these crises and do nothing to solve short term energy needs,” said Mahyar Sorour, Deputy Legislative Director at the Sierra Club. “The administration must be transparent about who is participating in this task force, and ensure that corporate polluters do not take advantage of this moment to lock in a dangerous fossil fuel expansion.”
“In a time when we’re already anxious about the future of our energy sector, these back room meetings create suspicion, not confidence, that we are moving in the right direction,” said Lukas Ross, Climate and Energy Justice Program Manager at Friends of the Earth U.S. “The U.S.-European Union energy council should be talking with us, not behind our backs while forging the future.”
“The creation of the US-EU Joint Task Force for Energy Security is an excellent example of how not to conduct energy policy in a transparent and democratic manner during a climate emergency,” said Basav Sen, Climate Policy Director at the Institute for Policy Studies. “If the Biden administration took its own rhetoric on climate seriously, they wouldn’t propose a buildout of gas production and export infrastructure without a rigorous analysis of climate impacts and a promise to reject any project that’s inconsistent with 1.5 degrees of warming.”
“Closed-door meetings and backroom deals will not hide the harms fossil fuels are causing communities and our climate,” said Jim Walsh, Policy Director at Food & Water Watch. “Real energy security requires a rapid transition off of fossil fuels, not a commitment to double down on infrastructure for the transatlantic gas trade. Further fossil fuel development will create more insecurity from climate change driven extreme weather, as well as reliance on unscrupulous corporations and governments who will manipulate fossil fuel commodities for profit and geopolitical gain.”
“True energy security begins with ending our addiction to the fossil fuels that are destabilizing international peace even as they destabilize the climate,” said Carroll Muffett, President of the Center for International Environmental Law. “It means investing in energy infrastructure that combats the climate crisis, rather than accelerates it, and reduces our exposure to the vulnerability, volatility, and recurring violence of fossil fuel supply chains. And it demands abandoning energy pathways that pollute communities, threaten human health, and deepen the systemic racism and injustice at the heart of the fossil economy. Until the Task Force has those goals at the heart of its vision, its mandate, and its approach to public engagement, it is simply entrenching the same energy insecurity that endangers the people of Ukraine, those of Europe and the U.S., and humanity as a whole.”
“Any plans to increase LNG export infrastructure would heap more poison on communities in the Gulf Coast and beyond, and catastrophically undercut Biden’s climate promises,” said Kassie Siegel, Climate Law Institute Director and Senior Counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need greater transparency into the makeup and workings of this new task force, and we need their commitment against any new fossil fuel infrastructure. The response that this moment demands is not ramping up toxic fossil fuel production, it’s for President Biden to lead the world in a just transition to renewable energy.”
“This task force is shaping up to be a disaster for our climate and Indigenous peoples who are the frontlines of fossil fuel expansion. After yet another IPCC release with scientists signaling that delay is death, it is clear we cannot continue on this path if we are to maintain a healthy, habitable planet,” said Jennifer K. Falcon at Fossil Free Media. “Indigenous peoples came out to get Biden elected and he has failed to implement any meaningful tribal consultation or a policy of Free, Informed and Prior Consent. Our communities are already being devastated from climate chaos and he continues to ignore our voices and treaties.”