Progressive lawmakers and activists are again imploring President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency, citing the thick blanket of smoke from Canadian wildfires now shrouding the US Capitol and swaths of the Eastern seaboard.
“As much of the Northeast and our nation’s capital experience the suffocating conditions that have become a regular occurrence in the West, we are faced with yet another stark reminder that the climate crisis is here,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat. “We ought to treat it like the emergency it is.” Those sentiments were echoed by Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, who urged Biden on Twitter to “declare a climate emergency.”
Scientists say human-caused global warming makes wildfires more likely and more destructive.
An emergency declaration by President Joe Biden would unlock sweeping executive powers, including blocking crude oil exports and placing other limits on fossil fuels. Biden considered the move — which would also enable him to shift funds to propel clean energy construction — last summer, when it appeared his massive climate law was going to falter in the Senate. Ultimately, he decided against it.
But with more than 100 million people under air quality alerts Thursday as toxic smoke from record-setting wildfires pours into the eastern US, threatening flights and leading people to mask up or stay inside, progressives are renewing their call for Biden to marshal sweeping powers to fight global warming.