President Joe Biden joined guest host Kal Penn on The Daily Show Monday for an interview covering student loan forgiveness, LGBTQ rights, and climate change. Yet it was the latter that found the president in a contradiction, who called upon the country to take action against climate change despite his administration’s approval of ConocoPhillips’ massive Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.
During Biden’s first visit to the show since taking office, he credited the passing of Inflation Reduction Act to “young people” and the “generation between 18 and 35.”
“People can’t deny it [climate change] anymore,” the president continued. “They can’t deny the fact, and I’ve traveled the world. I’ve gone to all the COP meetings around the world, meaning the meetings on climate. If we don’t keep the temperature from going above 1.5 degrees Celsius raised, then we’re in real trouble. That whole generation is damned. I mean, that’s not hyperbole. Really, truly in trouble.”
While Biden acknowledged the earth’s rising temperature and the grave consequences younger generations face, his decision to approve the Willow oil drilling project reneged on his 2020 campaign promise to end the passage of new oil and gas permits on federal lands and waters.
Several Democratic lawmakers—including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.)—condemned the Biden administration’s failure to “live up” to its commitment to fight climate change in a joint statement released Monday.
“Their decision ignores the voices of the people of Nuiqsut, our frontline communities, and the irrefutable science that says we must stop building projects like this to slow the ever more devastating impacts of climate change,” read the statement.
During the Daily Show segment, Penn also addressed the president’s actions on drilling and oil production, and the response from “young people who want you to continue to be their champion but might not think that you’re going far enough or fast enough on climate.”
While Biden explained that it was a “matter of transitioning” and that “it’s not like you can cut everything off immediately,” many Democrats on social media have pointed out the hypocrisy of the President’s decision. As rumors of the project’s approval leaked from the White House days earlier, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote on Twitter, “You can’t ask other countries to forego their fossil fuels if we keep green lighting projects here in America.”