October 1, 2020

Collin Rees, collin [at]
Jamie Henn, jamie [at]

Climate Activists React to Biden’s Moves to Ban Fossil Fuel Executives from Transition Team 

Washington, DC — After pressure from progressives and climate activists, Vice President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he is barring fossil fuel company leaders and executives from his presidential transition team. 

This September, over 145 organizations sent Biden a letter requesting that he ban fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, and representatives from his campaign and administration. 

Today’s announcement from the transition team should block controversial figures like former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who served on the board of Southern Company and regularly advises fossil fuel companies, as well as former Obama Administration official Heather Zichal, who earned $1 million as an advisor and board member for Cheniere Energy, a natural gas company. 

According to polling from Data for Progress and Fossil Free Media, voters oppose fossil fuel industry lobbyists or representatives working in the executive branch by a 22-point margin. 61 percent of Democrats oppose fossil fuel industry representatives working in the administration, while only 22 percent are open to the idea. 

Groups involved in the push to ban fossil fuel lobbyists issued the following responses: 

“Committing to a fossil-free transition team is exactly what we need to see heading into a new administration. Keeping fossil fuel representatives out of the federal government is a position that’s extremely popular with the public, and builds on the key improvements Biden has made to his climate plan, said Collin Rees, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change U.S. “We look forward to this common-sense commitment being extended to cover an eventual Biden Cabinet and administration.” 

“We’re heartened to see Joe Biden and Kamala Harris listen to grassroots climate hawks,” said RL Miller, political director of Climate Hawks Vote. “Fossil fuel advocates have no place on an administration dedicated to healing the harm Trump has caused and committed to 100 percent clean and renewable electricity by 2035.”

“This language doesn’t just block people with fossil fuel connections from the transition team, it sets a clear precedent that they should have no place in a future Biden Administration. It’s a promising sign that Biden is preparing to take a more aggressive stance when it comes to the fossil fuel companies that are causing the climate crisis,” said Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media. 

“A fossil-free transition team is a bare minimum for the distance a Biden administration must keep the cheerleaders of continued fossil fuel use,” said Mitch Jones, Policy Director at Food & Water Action. “The Biden campaign should commit now to excluding fossil fuel champions from any role in a Biden administration. We look forward to working with the Biden transition team and with a Biden administration to assure that they are staffed with climate champions committed to handing on a habitable planet to future generations.”

“Rejecting fossil fuel influence is a smart move for the Biden-Harris campaign. Voters are hungry to elect a climate champion. Joe Biden is running on the most ambitious climate platform in history, but it won’t mean much if his transition team is stacked with oil and gas insiders. Biden would do well to distance himself from the failed approach of the Trump administration, which is teeming with corporate lobbyists and fossil fuel cronies. While aiming to reject fossil fuel influence from his transition team is a strong start, this is not the end of the road. We urge Biden to commit to banning all fossil fuel executives and lobbyists from his cabinet and administration. Personnel is policy, and we need experts in the White House who put climate and environmental justice ahead of corporate profits,” said Charlie Jiang, Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.

“Sunrise Movement is pleased to see the Biden-Harris team recognize that there is no place on their transition team for people tied to fossil fuel executives and believe that they should extend this commitment to their cabinet and administration appointments,” said Lauren Maunus, Legislative Manager at Sunrise Movement. “Young people and people around the country are ready for a new chapter in this country in which we prioritize bold climate action that creates millions of good, union jobs and addresses the wounds of systemic racism and economic inequality. Excluding fossil fuel CEOs and their allies helps make this future possible.”


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