More than 400 organizations will deliver a letter to President Obama tomorrow that urges him to make the US the first country that commits to keep all remaining fossil fuels in the ground.
They want him to halt all new fossil fuel leases on federal lands (national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges) and oceans, which would amount to 450 billion tons of emissions if exploited.
The letter will be delivered during a press conference at the White House at 10AM.
"Under existing federal laws, including the Mineral Leasing Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, you have clear authority to stop new leases. With the stroke of a pen, you could take the bold action needed to stop new federal leasing of fossil fuels, and to keep those remaining fossil fuels – our publicly owned fossil fuels – safely in the ground," says the letter.
Over 67 million acres (out of a total 650 million acres) of federal public land and ocean (1.7 billion acres) are already leased to the fossil fuel industry, adding up to 43 billion tons of potential carbon emissions.
About 30% of US energy production comes from public land and water, and even though that’s responsible for about 27% of all energy-related GHG emissions, they aren’t counted in the US total because they are caused by private companies.
Sadly, these exploitive, polluting industries are dwarfing our natural areas’ ability to absorb carbon, and thus lower US emissions. In 2010, public lands in the lower 48 states contributed 4.5 times more carbon to the atmosphere than they absorbed, according to the Center for American Progress.
Under Obama, we’ve seen the mainstreaming of renewable energy, but we have also seen more oil and gas permits on public land (with streamlined processing); an unregulated fracking boom; more offshore oil drilling even extending to opening the Atlantic coast and the Arctic.
"The federal government is enabling some of the wealthiest companies in the world, with names like Exxon and Peabody, to mine and drill America’s public lands for private profit. This egregious drilling, fracking and mining is devastating the health of communities and endangering the stability of our climate. We are simply asking President Obama to stop selling off our national forests, oceans and sacred heritage sites for pennies on the dollar and slow the effects of climate change by stopping fossil fuel leasing on public lands," says Lindsey Allen, Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network.
"The ‘river of grass’ in our Florida Everglades could soon become the home of numerous fracking rigs if the US continues our unsustainable policy of extracting fossil fuels. Under Florida’s antiquated laws, dangerous new fracking techniques are allowed in the state with almost no oversight. If allowed to expand, fracking in the Florida Everglades would threaten the drinking water of millions of South Florida residents and permanently damage the ecosystem of one of our national treasures," says Jorge Aguilar, Florida Director, Food & Water Watch.
Signatories include tribal leaders, labor unions, scientists, religious leaders, public interest groups and climate activists.
Read our articles, Disgusting! Eye-Popping Coal Leases Planned on Public Lands
Read the letter: