It’s time for an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

President Biden and Congress must lead the charge to defeat the climate crisis and build a thriving, just and inclusive clean energy future. Join our work to help make it happen.

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It’s time for an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

President Biden and Congress must lead the charge to defeat the climate crisis and build a thriving, just and inclusive clean energy future. Join our work to help make it happen.

America’s Addiction to Fossil Fuels Is Poisoning Our Democracy

As long as our economy is dependent on fossil fuels, foreign powers with sway over global fossil fuel markets will have the power to meddle in our democracy.

The fossil fuel industry’s outsized influence on U.S. elections is a clear and present threat to the health of American democracy. That’s not just because of the $90.4 million that oil and gas companies have poured into lobbying in 2022 alone, or the fact that fossil fuel companies donated five times more to Republicans than Democrats this cycle. It goes beyond the open corruption of elected officials offering targeted handouts to industry allies. In 2022, we’ve seen just how easy it is for fossil-fueled regimes to manipulate prices and public opinion.

Gas prices are linked with voters’ approval of incumbent politicians; when gas is more expensive, poll numbers tend to decline. America’s dependence on oil and gas leaves us vulnerable to that dynamic, and our democracy hangs on the decisions of petro-dictators abroad. OPEC+’s recent decision to constrain oil output is the most glaring example yet: an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia and Russia raising fossil fuel prices just before the 2022 midterms, likely to an extent that will turn public opinion against President Biden. The core takeaway: as long as our economy is dependent on fossil fuels, foreign powers with sway over global fossil fuel markets will have the power to meddle in our democracy.

The outsized political implications of fossil fuel industry greed are a threat to American democracy. The only long-term solution is a full shift to a clean energy economy, and President Biden must do everything in his power to hasten that transition.

Fossil Fuel Prices Shape Voters’ Attitudes

Voter opinion is highly correlated with gas prices, and 2022 is no exception. When gas is more expensive, voters are unhappier. A recent Washington Post analysis found that “[i]n recent months, the extent to which Americans said the country was on the right track moved in concert with gas prices… [A]s gas prices fell, American optimism rose. As prices rose, optimism fell.”

The relationship between gas prices and political trends is well-documented. An analysis from Data for Progress found that “historically, incumbent governments in democracies routinely faced backlash from rising prices and especially rising energy prices, ranging from higher rates of disapproval, to electoral penalties”. 

High-profile pollster Nate Cohn also picked up on this trend in the data, encouraging readers to “[i]magine what might have happened if gas prices had stayed high [over the summer]… The political environment might be very different. Voters would be furious… Media coverage would be relentless, at the expense of coverage on other issues like abortion.” The connection is clear: high gas prices are terrible for incumbent governments.

Foreign Adversaries Are Now Influencing U.S. Elections Through Gas Prices

In recent weeks, hostile governments abroad—unintentionally or otherwise—took advantage of that link between gas prices and incumbents’ popularity. OPEC+, an alliance of oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, has decided to cut their oil extraction and drive oil and gas prices back up after a steady downward trend. Influencing global energy prices is nothing new for Saudi Arabia, which “has usually kept more than 1.5 - 2 million barrels per day of spare capacity on hand for market management.” But a likely motive for this new shift is clear.

OPEC+ leaders want President Biden out of power. Recent reports revealed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman “has told advisers he hasn’t been impressed with Mr. Biden since his days as vice president, and much preferred former President Donald Trump.” Vladimir Putin has likewise been clear about his preference for President Trump. Biden administration officials connected the OPEC+ leaders’ antipathy towards the White House with the cuts to oil production, stating that “nobody can argue that it was warranted for any economic reason,” and contending that it was instead politically motivated. Congressional Democrats have echoed the administration’s concerns and issued a clear ultimatum to Saudi Arabia to increase oil production.

The link between fossil fuel prices and voter opinions leaves American democracy vulnerable to interference. The Russian invasion of Ukraine highlighted the danger of relying on volatile global oil and gas markets, the stability of which depends on cooperation from adversaries abroad. But a safer, more reliable alternative is at hand: clean energy.

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Source: Data for Progress, "Gas Rules Everything Around Me."

Clean Energy is The Best Way To Eliminate The Threat of Fossil-Fueled Foreign Interference 

Clean energy prices suffer none of fossil fuels’ price volatility and exposure to global markets. When oil and gas prices spike, clean energy costs stay even—erratic energy costs over the last year, driven by the Russian invasion, have left clean electricity costs almost untouched. We know that a full transition to a clean energy economy would largely eliminate the leverage petro-dictators currently hold over American democracy. In the wake of the Russian invasion, Evergreen called for a transition to clean energy as the best solution to America’s dependence on antagonistic petrostates. As fossil fuel producers seek to influence the outcomes of the 2022 midterms, the need for that transition has only grown more urgent.

Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden administration has a historic opportunity to head off this persistent threat to the integrity of American democracy. The White House must implement the IRA’s climate investments quickly and equitably, prioritize justice for disadvantaged and overburdened communities, and enact robust executive standards to support the clean energy transition. The fossil fuel industry’s market distortions pose a long-term threat to American democracy, but the solution is at hand. President Biden already has many of the tools we need to power towards a 100% clean energy economy, and he must wield them now.

Take Action: EPA Must Go Further, Faster!

President Biden made a bold commitment on the campaign trail to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035. The administration has the power to achieve this goal while reducing climate pollution, improving public health, increasing equity, and creating good clean energy jobs. 

But far too many critical EPA standards have been delayed or stalled, and we have just two years until the end of President Biden’s first term. This is allowing toxic air and water pollution to sicken our families, especially low-income, Black, Indigenous, and Brown communities. Americans can’t wait, and Administrator Regan and the EPA need to move further and faster.

Sign On: EPA Must Go Further, Faster!

Far too many critical EPA standards have been delayed or stalled, and we have just two years until the end of President Biden’s first term. Americans can’t wait.

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