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Biden Drills for Oil in Pristine Alaskan Wilderness: An Environmental Disaster

Sections of Environmental Movement Can't Let Go of Him As “Climate Leader”

Donald Trump notoriously said some years back that if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City, his core fascist supporters would not even blink, they would still be behind him. The equivalent for Joe Biden would be if he took a big club and went up to the Arctic and clubbed a baby seal to death. Well, Biden has just done much worse than that. And a host of leaders of the “environmental movement” continue to proclaim their loyalty and slavishly plead with Biden to be a “climate leader”—as the capitalist-imperialist system he represents and presides over escalates its war on nature.

Biden: I could club a polar bear cub in the Arctic, and these “Environmentalists” would still support me.


Sections of the environmental movement can‘t let go of Biden as “Climate Leader.”   

Is this an exaggeration? Not at all. Let’s get into it.

Willow Project: Unmitigated Assault on Nature

On March 13, the Biden administration gave its approval to the Willow Project. ConocoPhillips, a large U.S. oil company, will be allowed to drill, with about 200 wells, on federal land in pristine Alaskan wilderness that holds 600 million gallons of oil. This project will add carbon emissions to the atmosphere equal to opening up 69 new coal-fired power plants. To bring out the oil will take gravel roads, hundreds of miles of ice roads, and will disrupt and potentially threaten the health and livelihoods of Native people who live in the area.

Map showing location of new oil drilling in Alaska


Location of the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska’s Western Arctic, which the Biden administration approved March 13.    AP photo

When the oil produced by the Willow Project is burned, it will cause what has been called a “carbon bomb”—it will accelerate the heating up of the whole planet at a time when scientists are urgently calling for “keeping the oil in the ground.“1 Meanwhile the Arctic is already warming from climate change four times faster than the rest of the planet—and this will make it warm even faster. Keep in mind that the U.S remains the world's largest producer of both oil and natural gas!

It is a crime to run roads and build oil wells on the territory of endangered Arctic species, and this will kill animals. It’s a crime to keep drilling and burning more and more fossil fuels when climate scientists have made it clear that the warming earth demands that this has to STOP. And on top of this is the world-class hypocrisy, the bullshit, of Biden’s own promises when he was courting environmental support for his 2020 campaign against Trump: “no more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.” Biden's approval of new oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness will also help legitimize new oil drilling by other countries—”don't tell us to cut back when you're doing this.”

Several prominent environmental organizations have issued protests and joined together in a lawsuit to block the Willow project.2 But a number of major and influential environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Sierra Club, have at the same time upheld Biden, and continue to strongly support him.

They Know the Science but Politically Act in Willful Disregard

The leaders of environmental organizations like these are well informed about the reality of what has actually been done to the environment and the climate—and not just by the climate-denying Republicans like Trump, but by Biden, and by Obama and the Democratic Party in power before them. They are fully aware that greenhouse gas emissions (carbon and methane that trap heat in the atmosphere) have climbed under Democrats as well as Republicans, and that this is driving the temperature of the planet up, and up.

These environmental organizations know that international conference after international conference has failed to produce even plans close to what is needed to stop this; that it is the U.S. that has historically put more carbon into the atmosphere than any other country (even if China is now putting in more each year). They well know that the much-touted Biden “climate plan” which passed Congress last year is not going to put an end to burning fossil fuels or keeping these fuels in the ground. And they know this basic conclusion of climate science: that the oil must stay in the ground!

Alaska oil drilling in ocean


A test drilling off the Alaska coast.      Photo: ConocoPhillips via AP

These environmental groups are up on the intensifying climate emergency with the threat to biodiversity, the destruction of life on the planet by this system. They know that the ice in the Arctic is melting—and that this and other changes could have extreme consequences for climate and the environment. 

But despite all these facts that they know and publicize, they cravenly cling to Biden, and promote false and deadly hope among the many people they influence.

A joint statement by a number of major groups condemns the Willow project and then makes this apology for and plea to Biden: “President Biden can still deliver another huge climate and biodiversity victory by saying no to this project. He should put the health of local people before the profits of corporations. He should always be a global leader in taking real and enduring climate action.”3 Are you fucking kidding?!?

Again, these people are NOT ignorant. And this is part of why it is so shameful and disgusting that even after Biden has done the Democratic Party equivalent with regard to the environment of Trump's shooting someone in cold blood on Fifth Avenue and keeping his support, they continue to cling to Biden as a global climate leader. They offer no alternative to the insane fascist Republicans except to hide in the tent of the other wing of the U.S. capitalist-imperialist ruling class, the Democrats.

BAsics 3:12 quotation by Bob Avakian


Fronting for Biden's 2022 Climate Act Greases the Skids for Disarming People

A development leading up to and shaping the current moment is the “Biden Climate Bill,” officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act that was passed in the late summer of 2022. This received great hosannahs from the same organizations we are writing about here. They hailed it as a monumental and historic victory against climate change. It wasn’t.

We strongly urge everyone to read the in-depth analysis by Raymond Lotta and the Environment Writers Group about this legislation on here. As this article summarizes:

When the Biden climate act is analyzed and measured against 1) the enormity of the problem of global warming caused by the use of fossil fuels; 2) the outsize role that the U.S. has historically played, and continues to play, in heating up the planet; 3) the scale and speed of measures needed to actually cope with this accelerating crisis; and 4) what is not only necessary but actually possible on the basis of a revolution, and a radically new and different socialist state power and economy as set forth in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian—it becomes clear that this legislation falls massively and obscenely short of what is needed. Worse, it actually prolongs the dependency of the U.S. economy on fossil fuels.

In plain words, this climate legislation that is considered Biden's crowning environmental achievement is part of the problem of global warming, not the solution. [Emphasis added]

What is covered up and what these environmental forces are unwilling to come to grips with—although it is staring them in the face—is that it is this capitalist-imperialist system itself that is giving rise to accelerating environmental catastrophe, and to the deep divisions and antagonisms within the U.S. and the world.

Polar bear with two young bears


Polar bear with young    Photo: ANWR

A Time of Potentially Unprecedented Catastrophe... but Also a Rare Time When Revolution Becomes More Possible

The environment is under intense and naked and brutal assault from both the Democrats and the Republicans, the two ruling-class parties in the U.S.

As for other, major, international developments, Biden and the Democrats have spearheaded the U.S./NATO role in the proxy inter-imperialist war between NATO and Russia, being fought out over Ukraine. This war is not only a meat grinder for the people of Ukraine. It is also being used to throw out environmental constraints and to justify jacking up U.S. fossil fuel production. This decision approving new oil drilling on federal land was made in a bellicose political atmosphere in which the Biden administration has called for ramping up oil production to weaken Russia and replenish oil supplies disrupted by the war.

And increasingly looming on the horizon as the fighting ratchets up in Ukraine is the danger of nuclear war—the other threat, along with the environmental crisis, in which the very existence of humanity and the planet are at stake. And BOTH these threats to humanity and the planet are spawned by this entire system which must be opposed and stopped.

If people think that in confronting and acting on the environmental emergency—as well as the multi-sided crisis humanity faces today—the only choice is Trump or Biden, then that is REALLY a catastrophe. But the reality is that this is NOT the only choice. We actually CAN bring about a radically different and far better world through revolution, and this shines through the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian.

And this is not a remote and distant prospect. The world is being torn asunder. The accelerating environmental crisis is one more expression of how extreme things are getting on this planet, one more major expression of the fact that this capitalist-imperialist system MUST be swept off the face of the planet, and a far better one put in its place.

BAsics 1-31 long English


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See also:

Bob Avakian: Free Yourself from the GTF! The Great Tautological Fallacy



1. “In doing so, Biden is ignoring the concerns of the International Energy Agency and the world’s leading climate scientists, who argue we cannot carry on drilling if we want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. He also ignored the online petition signed by over three million people and a viral #StopWillow TikTok campaign.” From “‘Read my lips’: Biden blows up campaign pledge to approve Willow ‘carbon bomb’ in the Arctic,” March 14, 2023, Andy Rowell, Oil Change International. [back]

2. The lawsuit is headed up by EarthJustice. [back]

3. The groups below signed the joint statement cited in the text:

Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic
Alaska Wilderness League
Trustees for Alaska
Friends of the Earth
Conservation Lands Foundation
Environment America
Defenders of Wildlife
League of Conservation Voters
Northern Alaska Environment Center<
Sierra Club
The Wilderness Society
Evergreen Action
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Greenpeace USA

The full statement is here. [back]

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