EPA Union Demands President Biden Declare Climate Emergency, Ramp Up Federal Effort to Address Crisis

EPA employees also call on agency to invoke Defense Production Act, enact Clean Energy Standard, impose moratorium on new fossil fuel facilities

WASHINGTON — The rank and file members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Council 238, the union representing nearly 7500 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees in all 50 states, voted to declare a climate emergency Thursday and demanded President Biden do the same.

As part of the climate emergency declaration, EPA’s frontline workers are urging the federal government to take immediate action in response to the climate crisis and its rapidly escalating catastrophic impacts.

“We are facing a climate emergency,” said AFGE Council 238 President Marie Powell. “Continued inaction on climate policy could lead to the end of a habitable world for our children and grandchildren. Inaction cannot be an option — the Biden administration and EPA must immediately enact policies that provide assistance to communities already hardest hit by the climate emergency and invest in solutions that match the scale of the emergency we face.”

Powell continued, “As a nation and in our local communities, we must transition immediately off of fossil fuels instead of doubling down on dirty energy investments. We call on the EPA and the entire Biden administration to recognize the crisis we are facing, declare a climate emergency and — with the added power that comes from the declaration of a national emergency — take the necessary actions to mitigate our impending climate disaster.”

The union’s declaration included a list of demands for the Biden Administration, including:

  • Enacting a Clean Energy Standard (CES) that would decarbonize the power sector by 2035.
  • Consider imposing a moratorium on permitting fossil fuel facilities and infrastructure that increase greenhouse gas emissions to the planet.
  • Appointing leaders across the government who will support renewable energy, get tough on polluters exceeding permitted limits, especially in communities burdened by environmental injustice.
  • Working to decarbonize our federal financial outlays, especially the largest single-payer fund in the world, the Thrift Savings Plan.
  • Hiring at least 1000 more EPA scientists and engineers nationwide to tackle the climate emergency and replenish a workforce decimated by the Trump administration.
  • Cutting EPA’s carbon emissions and that of its workforce and have it use every available tool to assist other federal agencies in reducing carbon emissions.
  • Recruiting and retaining the best EPA climate scientists, engineers and lawyers in the nation and paying them salaries that allow our agency to compete with the lure of the private sector.
  • Incentivizing renewable energy in all sectors.
  • Strengthening environmental justice and tribal voices in decisions about their health and their environment.
  • Providing scientific information to the public and local governments about how to prepare to be resilient against climate change to protect infrastructure and local economies.

AFGE Council 238 was a leading voice of resistance to the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the EPA and prevent enforcement on big polluters. Under the Biden administration, AFGE leaders have continued their efforts to rebuild the Agency to its prior strength and effectiveness.