Rainforest Action Network Executive Director Lindsey Allen issued the following statement in response to today’s revelations concerning Peabody Energy, fossil fuels and climate change:
“Today, the world’s biggest private coal company, Peabody Energy, has agreed to amend its company disclosures related to climate change. This announcement comes on the heels of recent revelations about ExxonMobil and how that oil giant knew about the dangers and damages from fossil fuels from their very own research, yet continued to hide it from the public.
“These revelations further confirm that Exxon and Peabody have violated their social license to operate. Combined with their track record of environmental violations in communities around the world, this disclosure confirms that support of fossil fuel companies is not in the public interest. And yet, these same companies and others like them will be granted the ability to extract more fossil fuels on our public lands. These leases go for as little as $2 an acre to the wealthiest companies in the world. As a result, 25% of US emissions come from extraction on federal lands.
“In 2014, Peabody was the second largest federal coal leaseholder, holding approximately 64,000 acres in federal leases. An estimated 65% of Peabody’s total coal production is on federal lands. The company’s coal production on federal lands is estimated at 147,360,000 tons in 2014. Exxon meanwhile owns more than 1,500,000 acres in offshore oil and gas leases on federal property and more than 900,000 acres onshore.
“The coal and other fossil fuels scheduled to be extracted from public lands in the near future needs to stay in the ground if we are to preserve our health, our environment, and our way of life.
“President Obama has the constitutional authority to issue an Executive Order to immediately end the outdated practice of fossil fuel leasing on public lands and offshore waters. With a stroke of his pen, he could stop bankrolling wealthy energy corporations, like Peabody, prevent environmental destruction, preserve the heritage of Indigenous sacred sites, and slow the disastrous effects of climate change.
“This single action 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. If President Obama wants a truly lasting climate legacy, he should end fossil fuel leasing on public lands.
“Last week we celebrated the victory over the Keystone XL pipeline. This week, we need to redouble our efforts to Keep It In the Ground.”