Keep it in the Ground Leaders Risk Arrest to Demand President Obama Halt New Fossil Fuel Leases on Public Lands

For Immediate Release, September 15, 2016
Contact: Blair FitzGibbon, 202-503-6141, 

BREAKING: Over 40 Frontline, Indigenous, and Climate Leaders Occupy the Department of the Interior to Demand President Obama End Fossil Fuel Lease Sales; Arrests Made

Keep it in the Ground leaders from across the country risk arrest to demand President Obama end new fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters; Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network among those arrested 

Photographs available at this link:  

WASHINGTON D.C. – This afternoon, over 40 frontline, Indigenous, and climate leaders occupied the Department of the Interior (DOI) to demand that President Obama end fossil fuel lease sales. The group entered the building lobby chanting “Keep it in the Ground.” Among those arrested was Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network.

The action highlights President Obama’s authority to stop leases sales of public lands and waters and to lock in half of the potential climate pollution from all remaining fossil fuels in the United States
The action to occupy the Department of the Interior is an escalation of the Keep it in the Ground campaign to end fossil fuel auctions, where for the last year, over a thousand people across the country have peacefully protested over 20 lease sales in person. The action most recently builds on a protest last month where four people were arrested for challenging the sale of 23 million offshore acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

Earlier in the day, activists gathered in front of the White House to deliver a petition of more than one million names urging the president to end new leases on public land and waters.

“Climate change is here. We’re seeing record floods in the Gulf, wildfires in the west, with frontline communities bearing the brunt of this. We need real climate leadership now —  not tomorrow, not in the next administration, but today,” said Allen. “President Obama says he wants to be a climate leader. Well he can walk the walk by taking two bold actions: End fossil fuel leases on public lands and public waters; and stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. It defies logic that these things are still happening — they fly in the face of the newly signed Paris Agreement and all the other positive things the president likes to say. It’s time for him to act.”

Those risking arrest today represent communities in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming, and include the executive directors from four national environmental organizations: Earthworks, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, and WildEarth Guardians.

Today’s event also echoes the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, ally Indigenous and other supporters as they wage a historic resistance against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. In solidarity with the Standing Rock resistance, the action today aims to stop further fossil fuel extraction and more climate destruction.


More than 450 climate groups and leaders gathered at the White House last September calling on the president to end new federal fossil fuel leasing. Since then, thousands of people have turned up to peacefully challenge more than 20 federal fossil fuel auctions across the country, calling on the Obama Administration to stem further fossil fuel extraction. The quickly-growing movement has caused the Administration to halt several fossil fuel lease sales and now to move auctions online to avoid public controversy. 

Ending new fossil fuel leasing on public land and oceans would keep up to 450 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution in the ground—half of the potential pollution from all remaining fossil fuels in the United States.  Federal fossil fuels already leased to industry are capable of producing decades beyond the point by which the planet must transition to clean energy to avoid devastating global warming.