Biden’s Words in Glasgow Undercut by Actions in Washington

November 6th, 2021 - by Friends of the Earth & Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Biden Makes Climate Pledge at Glasgow
While Pushing Oil, Gas, Nuclear in US 

Friends of the Earth

WASHINGTON (November 3, 2021) — US climate groups slammed the Biden administration today for ignoring climate impacts and refusing to stop oil and gas leasing on public lands despite President Biden’s Glasgow pledge to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The revised plans for February lease sales in seven western states, announced this week by the Bureau of Land Management, defer some acres to protect imperiled species but none for climate mitigation.

Groups filed formal objections to the plans in October, urging the administration to prevent additional climate pollution and harm to land, water, communities and endangered species by deferring or prohibiting new leases. The administration originally proposed to offer 734,000 acres of public lands for oil and gas leasing but has removed about 383,000 acres of greater sage grouse habitat in Wyoming.  

“Just as it has the authority to stop leasing to protect imperiled species, the Biden administration has authority to stop leasing to protect our imperiled climate,” said Taylor McKinnon at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The administration’s refusal to halt fossil fuel expansion on federal lands and waters makes a mockery of the US climate mission in Glasgow.” 

The Biden administration has approved 3,091 new drilling permits. That rate of 332 per month outpaces the Trump administration’s 300 permits per month in fiscal years 2018-2020.

“While strong language from the Biden administration recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis is welcome, words alone offer little reprieve to the people and communities who are already acutely experiencing climate impacts,” said Kyle Tisdel with Western Environmental Law Center. “It is time for action to mirror the rhetoric, and such action must begin with managing the end of fossil fuel exploitation on public lands and waters.”

The drilling permits and new leasing, primarily in Wyoming and Colorado, come despite Biden’s January pause on new oil and gas leasing pending a review of the program. A June court order lifted the leasing pause but retained the administration’s authority over federal oil and gas.

“Candidate Biden promised to ban new leasing on public lands and waters, but President Biden is sacrificing hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands to the oil and gas industry,” said Nicole Ghio, senior fossil fuels program manager at Friends of the Earth US. “Biden has the legal authority to do the right thing for the climate and future generations. With climate negotiations underway in Glasgow, it’s time for him to show courage by standing up to Big Oil and stopping these lease sales.”

Renewed IPCC warnings and several analyses show that climate pollution from the world’s already-producing oil, gas and coal developments would push warming past 1.5 degrees Celsius. One analysis, by the International Energy Agency, shows that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees requires ending new investment in fossil fuel projects.

“While President Biden is talking a good talk on climate action, the reality is his administration is actively working to fan the flames of the climate crisis by selling more public lands for fracking,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. “This isn’t just hypocritical, it’s outright deceitful and it truly calls into question whether the Biden administration’s climate agenda is nothing but broken promises.”

“While President Biden promoted climate action in Glasgow, he was also allowing fracking to expand on lands that belong to the American people,” said Barb Gottlieb at Physicians for Social Responsibility. “This is bad for the climate, bad for human health and bad for trust in his administration.”

“In the face of BLM’s own projection of $360 million to $7 billion in social cost of carbon emissions that will result, and despite its COP26 proclamations, the Biden administration has chosen to restart aggressive oil and gas leasing of our public lands,” said Kate Hudson, Western US advocacy coordinator for Waterkeeper Alliance. “Our frontline and Native American communities, our western waterways and our planet will pay the price.”

“Leasing hundreds of thousands of acres to be drilled by the oil and gas industry in the midst of climate emergency is an unfathomable betrayal by the Biden administration,” said Collin Rees, senior campaigner at Oil Change International. “It’s doubly hypocritical during the ongoing climate talks in Glasgow, where the US is desperately trying to portray itself as a global climate leader. Until President Biden stops this fossil fuel expansion that we can’t afford, his words on climate ring hollow.”

Last month nearly 700 people were arrested in Washington, D.C., after calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and stop new federal fossil fuel leasing and permitting.

In April more than 200 groups filed comments with the administration, demanding a formal climate review of the federal fossil fuel programs under the National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Lands Policy Management Act, Endangered Species Act and other laws.

In January 574 climate, conservation, Indigenous, religious and business groups sent then-President-elect Biden text for a proposed executive order to ban new fossil fuel leasing and permitting on federal public lands and waters.


Fossil fuel production on public lands causes about a quarter of US greenhouse gas pollution. Peer-reviewed science estimates that a nationwide federal fossil fuel leasing ban would reduce carbon emissions by 280 million tons per year, ranking it among the most ambitious federal climate policy proposals in recent years.

Oil, gas and coal extraction uses mines, well pads, gas lines, roads and other infrastructure that destroys habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Oil spills and other harms from offshore drilling have done immense damage to ocean wildlife and coastal communities. Fracking and mining also pollute watersheds and waterways that provide drinking water to millions of people.

Federal fossil fuels that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential climate pollution; those already leased to industry contain up to 43 billion tons. Pollution from the world’s already producing oil and gas fields, if fully developed, would push global warming well past 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Build Back Better … With Nuclear Subsidies?

Friends of the Earth

The Build Back Better Act still includes a costly subsidy for dirty, aging, unjust, and uneconomical nuclear reactors – and the corrupt corporations that own and operate them.Speak up and demand that your leaders in Washington D.C. remove the nuclear subsidies and take action towards a just transition to a 100% renewable energy future — carbon-free and nuclear-free.

The Build Back Better agenda is supposed to be a game-changer to transition the country to renewable energy and off of fossil fuels by 2035. We’ve come so far in demanding real climate action instead of the false promises of nuclear power that only enrich corrupt corporations while leaving frontline communities behind.

Now, we have to get the nuclear bailout cut completely. Tell your elected leaders to cut these wasteful, corrupt nuclear bailouts in the Build Back Better Act, once and for all!

ACTION: Tell your representatives in Congress: “NO nuclear PTC in the Build Back Better Act. Invest in American Jobs and a Just Transition to 100% Renewable Energy by 2035”

Biden Backs $195 Billion Nuke Bailout

Friends of the Earth

(May 5, 2021) — Reuters reported this morning that the Biden administration is supportive of a production tax credit (PTC) for existing nuclear reactors. This would increase costs for consumers and delay the uptake of cheaper, cleaner renewables.

If the PTC rate of 2.5 cents per KWh and the period of qualification from Chairman Wyden’s recent Clean Energy for America Act were applied to existing reactors, the cost to taxpayers could reach over $195 billion over the coming decade.

Friends of the Earth Program Manager Lukas Ross issued the following response:

A nuclear bailout is wrong for taxpayers, wrong for ratepayers, and wrong for the climate. Paying to keep aging reactors online is courting disaster and guaranteed to slow the deployment of truly clean renewables. Congress and President Biden should not throw good money after bad.

The Global Nuclear Waste Crisis:
Commercial High-level Radioactive Wastes

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Clean air and drinking water and healthy food are the very foundation of a just and livable world. They are already more precious than ever due to the climate crisis.

Nuclear power and nuclear weapons are poisoning our water, air, and lands with vast amounts of radioactive waste. Much of the harm is inflicted on Black, Indigenous, People of Color and low-income white communities, due to structural racism and injustice.

Radioactive waste poses a global environmental crisis, in tandem with climate change. The sheer amount of nuclear waste is enough to threaten clean drinking water and healthy food for the whole world.

We are on the frontlines of this problem.

  • Nearly one-third of the worldwide total of radioactive waste is in the United States.
  • Some communities in the US are already losing their drinking water sources to radioactive contamination.
  • Just one part of the radioactive waste in the US – irradiated nuclear fuel – contains enough radioactivity to make every drop of drinking water on Earth unsafe to consume.

We must solve the twin global crises of climate change and nuclear waste. Global warming amplifies the dangers of nuclear energy. Increasingly severe storms, flooding, sea-level rise, wildfires and other extreme events increase the risks of nuclear disasters and radioactive leaks and spills. And, in turn, the impacts of nuclear energy magnify the dangers of climate change:

  • Poisoning drinking water and agricultural land on top of more frequent and severe droughts and crop failures.
  • Compounding hurricane and flooding evacuations with radiological disasters.
  • And causing people to lose their homes and communities permanently due to radiation.

We can’t afford the dangers of climate change or nuclear waste. And we certainly can’t afford them together.

The solutions to both are at hand. We must act now.

  1. To start, we must stop the problems from worsening: no more greenhouse gas emissions, and no more nuclear waste.
  2. We need to protect people and the water, air, and food we rely on from the dangers that are upon us. The climate is changing, and we need to protect people for extreme weather, drought, sea-level rise, and food supply disruptions. And we must safeguard our water, air, and land by securing and storing nuclear waste and toxic materials as safely as possible.
  3. And, we need to repair the damage and make our world healthy and vibrant again: restoring communities that have been dislocated or polluted, and cleaning up the air, land, and water so we can all thrive, for generations to come.

The Nuclear Waste Crisis At-a-Glance

  High-Level Waste (2018)  USA  USA Radioactivity (curies)  Global 
Irradiated Nuclear Fuel82,358 tons15.6 billion246,686 tons
Reprocessing Waste14,000 tons 60,000
Greater-than-Class-C Waste (GTCC)130 m3 unknown
  Uranium Waste   USA  Global 
Abandoned Uranium Mines15,000+unknown 
Mill Tailings235 million tons2,353 million tons 
Depleted Uranium480,000 tons1,188,573 tons 
  Other Nuclear Waste  USA  Global 
“Low-Level” Radioactive Waste22.3 million m334.8 million m3 
Plutonium & Transuranic Isotopes158,130 m3unknown 
Nuclear Warheads6,18513,895 

 Proposed Nuclear Waste Facilities

Type of FacilityLocationCapacity
(metric tons)
Yucca Mountain ProjectRepositoryNevada70,000US Dept. of EnergyLicensing Stalled,
Project Defunded
Interim Storage PartnersCentralized Interim StorageAndrews County, Texas40,000Waste Control
Specialists & Orano
Licensing Review
Holtec International –
Centralized Interim StorageLea County, New Mexico170,000Holtec Intl.Licensing Review
Deep IsolationBorehole RepositoryTBATBADeep IsolationResearch & Development


The World Nuclear Waste Report 2019 – Heinrich Boell Foundation (2019)

The Global Crisis of Nuclear Waste – Greenpeace (2019)

Uranium Mining and Fuel Chain Waste

Nuclear Power and Climate Change 

Spent Nuclear Fuel in the US