Now that presidential candidate Joe Biden has awarded Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-N.Y., a chair on his environmental council, her liberal climate change affiliates are demanding that Biden agree not to work with Obama-era establishment Democrats who may be less willing to push for radical action.
Ocasio–Cortez successfully forced Biden to change his climate change agenda and add elements of the Green New Deal to it. But this isn’t enough for many leftist activists who fear he will prioritize the oil and gas industry after he is elected.
At least two activist groups, Justice Democrats and Sunrise Movement—both of which Ocasio–Cortez has worked with—are circulating a petition demanding that Biden “keep fossil fuel influence out” of his transition team, Cabinet or campaign adviser roles.
If he doesn’t agree to these demands, the groups are threatening to withhold support from Biden’s campaign.
“There is a lingering distrust from the progressive wing of the party,” Collin Rees, a senior campaigner with Oil Change U.S., told the Washington Examiner.
“There is real concern here if you are stocking advisers with fossil-fuel representatives, it will depress turnout, and it will make it hard for Biden to prove he is serious on these things,” he said.
The problem with the Obama administration, according to leftists, is that it was not progressive enough when it came to climate change.
Because of this, the Biden campaign needs to embrace “new voices,” said Rees, though he acknowledged it would be a “tough hurdle” to convince Biden to expel all of Obama administration alumni.
Obama alumni, however, have pushed back on leftists’ allegations.
“I get if you go backwards and say the Obama administration wasn’t green. Fine. But at the time, it looked extremely green,” a former Obama administration official told the Examiner. “Anything you say today might not look the same five to 10 years from now.”
Ocasio–Cortez has already made it clear that she plans to pressure the Biden campaign to continue moving to the left on environmental issues.
“She believes the movement will only be successful if we continue to apply pressure both inside and outside the system,” Ocasio–Cortez’s spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt, said in a statement. “This is just one element of the broader fight for just policies.”