‘Keep it in the Ground’ Movement Delivers One Million Signatures to the White House

For Immediate Release, September 15, 2016

Contacts: Blair FitzGibbon, 202-503-6141, blair@soundspeedmedia.com

Virali Modi-Parekh, Rainforest Action Network, 510-747-8476, virali@ran.org

‘Keep it in the Ground’ Coalition Delivers One Million Signatures to White House; 
Movement Calls for Halt to New Federal Fossil Fuel Leasing

Frontline, Indigenous, and climate leaders from across the U.S. arrive in D.C.
to end fossil fuel leasing on public lands and oceans

Photographs from today’s events will be made available at this link: www.ran.org/kingphotos

WASHINGTON D.C. — Frontline, Indigenous and climate leaders from across the country gathered at the White House today to deliver over one million signatures calling on President Obama to stop fossil fuel lease sales on public lands and oceans. The event also marked the one-year growth of this campaign, part of the “Keep it in the Ground” movement, when more than 450 climate groups and leaders first called upon President Obama to take real climate action and end new fossil fuel leasing. 

Today’s event comes as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, ally Indigenous and other supporters wage a historic resistance against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota to protect precious water sources; it also follows as Gulf residents are still recovering from unprecedented flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi exacerbated by climate change. Efforts like these, to protect communities from fossil fuel disasters and to rebuild them after climate catastrophe, underscore the urgent need to halt new fossil fuel development now.

“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 Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network. “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.”

Over the last year, 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 caused the Administration to halt several of those 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. 

Groups participating in today’s rally include Bold Louisiana, Center for Biological Diversity, Dooda Fracking, Greenpeace, Earthworks, Friends of the Earth, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Rainforest Action Network, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands, Sierra Club, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, and WildEarth Guardians.



On behalf of the American people, the U.S. federal government manages nearly 650 million acres of public land and more than 1.7 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf — and the fossil fuels beneath them. This includes federal public land, which makes up about a third of the U.S. land area, and oceans like Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard. These places and the fossil fuels beneath them are held in trust for the public by the federal government; federal fossil fuel leasing is administered by the Department of the Interior.

Over the past decade, the combustion of federal fossil fuels has resulted in nearly a quarter of all U.S. energy-related emissions. An 2015 report by EcoShift Consulting found that remaining federal oil, gas, coal, oil shale, and tar sands that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. As of earlier this year, 67 million acres of federal fossil fuel were already leased to industry, an area more than 55 times larger than Grand Canyon National Park and containing up to 43 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.

Last year Sens. Merkley (D-Ore.), Sanders (I-Vt.) and others introduced the Keep It In the Ground Act (S. 2238) legislation to end new federal fossil fuel leases and cancel non-producing federal fossil fuel leases. Days later President Obama canceled the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, saying, “Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”

Download the September “Keep It in the Ground” letter to President Obama.

Download Grounded: The President’s Power to Fight Climate Change, Protect Public Lands by Keeping Publicly Owned Fossil Fuels in the Ground (this report details the legal authorities with which a president can halt new federal fossil fuel leases).

Download The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels (this report quantifies the volume and potential greenhouse gas emissions of remaining federal fossil fuels) and The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions fact sheet.

Download Over-leased: How Production Horizons of Already Leased Federal Fossil Fuels Outlast Global Carbon Budgets.

Download Critical Gulf: The Vital Importance of Ending Fossil Fuel Leasing in the Gulf of Mexico

Download Public Lands, Private Profits about the corporations profiting from climate-destroying fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

Download the legal petition calling on the Obama administration to halt all new offshore fossil fuel leasing.

Download the legal petition calling on the Obama administration to halt all new onshore fossil fuel leasing.