President Obama wants to establish a serious climate legacy, and he’s taken some important steps. But at the same time, the president is facilitating an ongoing climate disaster: selling off our public lands to the fossil fuel industry for pennies on the dollar, for them to drill, frack and mine for private profit.
He can stop this slow-motion catastrophe with a stroke of his pen. Urge President Obama to establish a true climate legacy: Stop coal, oil and gas leases on public lands!
This urgent call is quickly gaining momentum. More than 400 organizations have signed a letter to President Obama calling for an end to fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters.1 These groups hail from across the country, from Alaska to Florida; from the Gulf Coast, where families are seeking accountability for BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, to Chaco Canyon, where communities are fighting to protect their sacred heritage sites against the fracking industry. And this morning, I’m honored to be one of a dozen advocates delivering the coalition’s letter to the White House.
One quarter of U.S. carbon emissions come from fossil fuels extracted from public lands and waters. By keeping unleased coal, oil and gas in the ground, President Obama could keep a staggering 450 billion tons of carbon pollution out of the atmosphere — almost half of all potential emissions from remaining U.S. fossil fuels.2 By contrast, the president’s Climate Action Plan, if fully implemented, would keep less than 6 billion tons of carbon out of the air.3
To stay within two degrees of warming, we have to keep the vast majority of all proven coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground. In the run-up to the crucial climate negotiations in Paris this December, President Obama has a historic opportunity to show true climate leadership by signing an executive order and showing that the United States is serious about doing its part to stop global warming.
Today’s meeting shows that we already have the White House’s attention. The next step is showing that the public wants to end the giveaway of our public lands to the fossil fuel industry. In the coming months RAN and our partners will be teaming up to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures. Add your voice!
We know who suffers from climate change: communities facing wildfires and droughts, flooding and displacement. So who benefits from the status quo? Some of the richest companies in the world — corporations like Shell, Exxon and Peabody — who our government subsidizes by leasing to them for as little as $2 an acre.
That can’t continue. President Obama has a chance to strike a real blow against climate change — and the fossil fuel industry — before he leaves office. Urge him to seize the opportunity.
1. "Why activists are pushing a 'supply side' strategy for fighting climate change", Washington Post, September 14, 2015
2. "The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels", EcoShift Consulting, Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the Earth, August 2015
3. "President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: 2nd Anniversary Progress Report", The White House, June 2015