Greens send letter to Obama post fossil fuel mention in SOTU
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Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources…And that’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.
– President Obama, State of the Union, 2016
President Obama is absolutely right, and the best place to start that transition is with publicly owned fossil fuels on federally managed lands and waters. Friends of the Earth, joined by Earthjustice, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Waterkeeper Alliance and WildEarth Guardians today sent a letter to President Obama that calls on him to order a review of the climate change implications of the federal oil and gas program and to halt all new oil and gas lease sales until such a study is complete. Taking into account the significant impacts of drilling and fracking on our natural heritage will reveal that the costs to our lands, waters and climate are way too high. Until those costs are known, publicly owned oil and gas must remain in the ground.
The Obama administration has leased millions of acres of our lands and waters to oil and gas companies, opening the door for extensive drilling and fracking that threatens frontline communities, pollutes our air and water and exacerbates climate disruption. Right now, 34 million acres of public areas are under control of the oil and gas industry, and the Obama administration proudly reports that oil and natural gas production have increased under President Obama’s watch.
The climate impacts of this development are drastic: estimates indicate that drilling and fracking on public areas account for almost a quarter of domestic energy-related carbon emissions and 4 percent of all U.S. global warming pollution. Despite these impacts, a comprehensive review of the climate impacts of public lands oil and gas has yet to be undertaken.
The bottom line is that the federal oil and gas program is inconsistent with our climate goals. If President Obama is to deliver on reducing U.S. carbon emissions 26-28 percent by 2025, cutting carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent by 2030 and solidifying his climate legacy, he must stop all new sales of publicly owned fossil fuels. To echo that call, the growing Keep It in the Ground movement has protested recent Interior Department oil and gas lease sales, causing three to be postponed in Utah, Washington, D.C., and Montana.
Now that President Obama has said we need to keep some fossil fuels in the ground and change the way we manage oil and coal resources, the logical next step is to stop selling them on our public lands and waters. Postponement of one oil and gas lease sale after another is a positive trend, but President Obama should demonstrate climate leadership and put a stop to all future fossil fuel lease sales.
Photo credit: Takver