Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Climate change activists from the Sunrise Movement gathered at the entrance to the White House on June 28 to protest President Biden’s support of the bipartisan infrastructure deal. They declared it to be an inconsequential fraction of the campaign promises he made to fight climate change, pressing the president to stand his ground with chants of “no climate, no deal.”

On June 24, Biden and Vice President Harris announced their support for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. It was called “the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century – an investment that will make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just” in the fact sheet posted by the White House briefing room. 

The Sunrise Movement is a youth-led group of activists whose mission statement is to make  “climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.” Notably, their grassroots efforts to get Biden elected significantly contributed to his success. 

The Sunrise Movement organized to call and text thousands, registering people to vote and urging them to vote for Biden, the candidate that promised to be the harshest against climate change. They did all of this under the condition that, once elected, he would follow their climate mandate

Upon seeing that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework fell short of their expectations, the D.C. balance of the group organized outside of the White House during a press briefing to protest, allegedly blocking all 10 entrances. 

The group was peaceful and non-violent, but dozens were arrested on grounds of disorderly conduct or blocking a public passageway, both misdemeanors. 

Despite this, some reports and many Twitter comments referred to the protest as an ‘attack’ or insurrection, relating it to the insurrection of Jan. 6.  

According to the legal definition of an insurrection, the June 28 protest does not qualify as such. 

The protest was attended by multiple liberal congress members such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush

When asked about the protest and accusations of Biden’s infrastructure plan falling short of his campaign promises, White House press secretary Jen Psaki disagreed with the idea that the bill would ‘do nothing’ during a press briefing on June 28 She said it would in fact do a lot for climate change by addressing legacy pollution and cleaning up communities. 

“It also will take enormous steps in addressing — investing in clean energy transmission,” said Psaki. “It will include making sure electric vehicle buses are part of our force across the country, and make sure electric — that purchasing electric vehicles will — which would be a huge contributor to reducing greenhouse gas emissions — is something that can be a reality for millions of Americans.”

When asked about the protest and the cause behind it, Sunrise responded to Scriberr with a press statement by Varshini Prakash, the executive director of Sunrise Movement. 

“Whether or not the Biden administration is aware, the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s climate provisions are a measly fraction of his campaign promises, which themselves were a fraction of what is necessary to rebuild our economy and stop the climate crisis,” said Prakash. 

“From negotiating down Biden’s original climate and jobs proposals, to his lack of opposition to Line 3, and approval and defense of other major long term fossil fuel projects like the Willow Project in Alaska, President Biden has been failing us.”

The fact sheet released by the White House outlines their plan by saying it will make “transformational and historic investments in clean transportation infrastructure, clean water infrastructure, universal broadband infrastructure, clean power infrastructure, remediation of legacy pollution, and resilience to the changing climate.”

It goes on to say this is not the final step of the plan towards preventing climate change. It says Biden plans to work with Congress to add jobs, reduce pollution and grow the economy. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan will spend $1.2 trillion dollars over eight years with major emphasis on roads and bridges, electric vehicle infrastructure and electric busses.

Written ByCynthia Zelaya

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