(Bloomberg) -- White House officials have renewed discussions about potentially declaring a national climate emergency, an unprecedented step that could unlock federal powers to stifle oil development.

Top advisers to President Joe Biden have recently resumed talks about the merits of such a move, which could be used to curtail crude exports, suspend offshore drilling and curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because a final decision has not been made. 

White House advisers are divided over the idea of declaring a climate emergency, with some saying it wouldn’t provide Biden with enough newfound authority to make substantial changes, the people said. Others, however, argue such an announcement would galvanize climate-minded voters.

Officials have not made a decision on the matter, nor is any declaration imminent, the people said. White House discussions over potential policy steps can span years, sometimes without ever coming to fruition.

The White House did not comment specifically on the discussions. In an emailed statement, White House spokesperson Angelo Fernandez Hernandez highlighted the president’s existing policies, saying Biden has “delivered on the most ambitious climate agenda in history.”

“President Biden has treated the climate crisis as an emergency since day one and will continue to build a clean energy future that lowers utility bills, creates good-paying union jobs, makes our economy the envy of the world and prioritizes communities that for too long have been left behind,” Hernandez said.

US presidents have widely declared national emergencies for various reasons. Former President Donald Trump used the tactic to divert military funding to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. But a climate-emergency declaration would be unprecedented and almost certainly face legal challenges.

The Biden administration previously mulled a similar emergency declaration in 2022 after negotiations on broad, clean-energy legislation faltered, threatening to stall much of the president’s climate agenda. But the idea of a declaration was shelved after the sweeping Inflation Reduction Act was enacted. 

Last year, Biden said he’d already effectively declared a climate emergency, having used other powers to impose conservation policies, emission curbs and clean-energy supports. The president expanded those efforts this year, indefinitely halting new licenses to widely export natural gas.

Still, environmental activists have been demanding bolder moves to confront global warming. 

Read More: What Biden Can Do After Declaring a Climate Emergency: QuickTake

Emergency declarations could enable the president to halt or limit crude exports for at least a year at a time, suspend offshore drilling, and throttle the movement of oil and gas on pipelines, ships and trains. Industry experts have warned that such a measure would discourage investment in domestic oil production and stoke higher retail prices.  

Youth activists, led by the Sunrise Movement, Fridays For Future USA and the Campus Climate Network, are planning protests nationwide on and around Earth Day to demand Biden proclaim climate change a national emergency. 

As the world stares down “another summer of floods, fires, hurricanes and extreme heat,” Biden must declare a climate emergency “and use every tool at his disposal to tackle the climate crisis and prepare our communities to weather the storm,” said Aru Shiney-Ajay, the Sunrise Movement’s executive director. “If Biden wants to win the youth vote, he needs to take forceful action on climate change.”

Those voters helped clinch victory for Biden in the 2020 election, yet they’ve been frustrated by decisions to support fossil-fuel projects such as ConocoPhillips’ mammoth Willow development in Alaska.  

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