Discover more from HEATED
Biden's climate f*ckboy behavior
The president's excuses for approving the Willow project are just that: excuses. You deserve someone who will give you the world.
On March 13, President Joe Biden approved a massive ConocoPhillips drilling project in Alaska known as Willow, and ignited a storm of outrage from the legions of climate-concerned voters that helped propel him into office.
It took nearly two weeks for Biden to respond directly to these voters. In a March 25 press conference, the president said he had wanted to reject the Willow project, but couldn’t, due to circumstances beyond his control.
HEATED is a 100 percent independent newsletter for people who are pissed off about the climate crisis. To receive new posts and support our work, become a free or paid subscriber today!
“My strong inclination was to disapprove of [Willow] across the board, but the advice I got from counsel was that if that were the case, I may very well lose that case in court to the oil company,” he said.
Biden added that losing a legal case to ConocoPhillips would have prevented him from implementing new regulations protecting vast regions of Arctic sea and land. “I thought it was a better gamble and a hell of a tradeoff to have the Arctic Ocean, the Baron Sea and so many other places off limits forever now,” he said.
At face value, these excuses sound fair. But if you dig a bit deeper, there are a few major flaws.
It’s not necessarily true that Biden would have lost a legal challenge if he rejected Willow. “We think the administration has a clear legal authority and obligation to protect this place,” Earthjustice President Abbie Dillen told HEATED in an interview.Bad legal advice. The courts ruled that the Trump admin unlawfully failed to consider alternatives to the massive Willow project based on the incorrect legal assumption that ConocoPhillip has a right to fully develop its leases. The Biden admin has repeated that mistake. https://t.co/p8D9MAUAmHBiden just said he had the "strong inclination" not to approve the Willow Project, but was advised by counsel that doing so would result in a court lossRachel Frazin @RachelFrazin
According to Dillen, the Biden administration could have sent ConocoPhillips proposal back for being inconsistent with the president’s executive orders on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, among other things. “The courts have been really clear that ConocoPhillips is not entitled to develop every drop of oil under its leaseholds,” Dillen said. (Earthjustice has filed its own lawsuit to stop Willow following the project’s approval).
Even if Biden did lose a legal challenge for rejecting Willow, he still could have prevented the project from moving forward. If Biden lost a legal challenge, according to University of Colorado law professor Mark Squillace, “the government would have to give [ConocoPhillips] some right to drill there—or it would have to buy back the leases, which could have a hefty price tag.” Legal experts at Stanford similarly said that, if Biden rejected the project and lost a legal challenge, ConocoPhillips might have to be “compensated for a constitutional ‘taking’.”
Paying ConocoPhillips a bunch of money wouldn’t be “the greatest outcome,” Dillen said. But it would be the most likely outcome following a legal loss. That means approving Willow was primarily a financial decision. Ultimately, Biden decided he’d rather pay the long-term climate cost of Willow than the short-term cost of paying ConocoPhillips for its leases.
Biden didn’t need to approve Willow to implement new regulations protecting the Arctic. There’s no legal relationship between those two things, so it’s confusing why Biden framed it as a trade-off. Sure, it’s possible there was some sort of political deal between Biden and pro-Willow lawmakers wherein they agreed not to challenge new regulations if Willow was approved. But that type of deal hasn’t been disclosed—and even if it were, Biden wouldn’t need one.
Biden’s excuses on Willow were just that: excuses. And they weren’t the first ones he’s made for fossil fuels. Over the last two years, the president has made a habit of disappointing his climate-concerned constituents, giving them just enough commitment so they keep coming back, but never enough to make them feel totally secure.
It’s classic climate fuckboy behavior.
Climate WHAT behavior?
“Fuckboy” is a widely-used slang term appropriated from Black and hip-hop culture, most notably from the rapper Cam'ron's 2002 song "Boy Boy," in which he raps “Oh this cat over frontin'? Fuck boy, boy!" It’s original meaning is simply a man who sucks; who is weak; who is a poser. It’s not a compliment.
Today, the term fuckboy has evolved to describe a person (any gender) who is promiscuous—who, for lack of better phrasing, has their hands in a lot of pots. In addition to that, the modern fuckboy is generally not direct about their promiscuity and misrepresents their intentions. Here’s how Urban Dictionary describes it:
A fuck boy is someone who says “I’m bad at relationships” as if it’s nearly an absolute truth. … He, the fuck boy, is fundamentally confused and is unsure of what he wants.
He is superficially intimate, as if acting from a script he knows all too well. Fuck boys operate from a superficial level of consciousness, and although he will seem like he is connected, time will show you that he never was. …
Fuck boys are often superficially very enjoyable people, so you have a sense that he’s great company. When his coldness and distance emerges you will feel shock and heartache. Endure it. Remember, you’ve been fooled.
In the dating world, fuckboys represent a conundrum. On the one hand, they are to be avoided—they are not what you’re looking for. On the other, they’re often better than most prospects. At least you have fun with them and they have a good personality. It’s a low bar, sure—but just look at the dating pool.
That same conundrum exists in the political world via the climate fuckboy. On the one hand, they are not what you want out of a long-term political representative. On the other, they’re often better than most prospects out there. At least they push through some good policies, and affirm that climate change is dangerous and caused by fossil fuels. It’s a low bar, sure—but just look at the pool of candidates.
Biden, in many ways, is the perfect representation of a climate fuckboy. In the beginning, he said all the things climate-concerned voters wanted to hear. He rejoined the Paris climate accord; cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline, and undid a number of anti-climate rules enacted by his predecessor.
But as the relationship went on, Biden’s started acting…off. He approved more oil and gas drilling permits on public lands per month than Trump did in three years. He opposed shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline and defended a plan to frack a national forest. He significantly ramped up exports of liquefied natural gas. And at one point, he full-on ghosted, refusing to respond to concerns about the Line 3 tar sands pipeline.
Overall, though, Biden was still better than past relationships. In late 2022, Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant climate change legislation in history. A few months later, he released an updated plan to tackle methane emissions, backed by $20 billion provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
But after those high highs came more low lows. This month, he not only approved the Willow project; he auctioned off more than 73 million acres of Gulf of Mexico waters to offshore oil and gas drilling.
It can feel tempting to make excuses for Biden. Justin Worland explained that conflict well in a 2022 piece for Time. “It’s a challenging dynamic,” he wrote. “The U.S. is simultaneously doing the most it ever has done to address the perils posed by climate change and, at the same time, facing widespread pressure for not doing enough fast enough.” And of course, Biden’s far from the only climate fuckboy out there. In politics, they seem to be everywhere you turn.
It’s easy to start doubting yourself when faced with these realities. You start wondering if maybe you’re being too needy. Maybe you’re just not good enough for someone who will give you what you want. Maybe you should just be grateful for what we have.
But thinking like this only benefits the climate fuckboy. Because the longer you believe you can’t get anything better, the longer his disappointing behavior will continue. Sure, it’s possible the climate fuckboy could change his stripes, and eventually transform into relationship material. But the clock is ticking, and you don’t have time to wait around for him forever.
Remember the mantra: If he wanted to, he would. You deserve someone who will give you the world—literally.
HEATED can only publish unhinged articles like this because of the readers who support us. If you enjoyed this piece and want to read more, consider becoming a paid subscriber today!
Catch of the Day: Today’s emotional climate support pet is Lad, who comes to us via reader Karl.
Lad helps the environmental movement by composting his hair. He would love to recycle squirrels, too—if only he could catch them
Want to see your furry (or non-furry!) friend in HEATED? Send a picture and some words to email@example.com.