Stopping Fossil Fuel Drilling of Public Lands and Waters
It’s no secret that the United States government is complicit in worsening climate change. Nowhere is this clearer than in its countless fossil fuel leases on federal lands and waters. Federal oil and gas leasing is responsible for nearly one-fourth of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, which comes as no surprise when we consider the fact that federal land leased to Big Oil can cause 43 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Within the last five years alone, 20,000 lease applications were approved. We cannot continue with business-as-usual.
If unchecked, climate change will continue to run rampant, causing extreme hurricanes and wildfires, rising seas, increased heatwaves, droughts and floods, decreased food and water security, and ecosystem collapse. The inextricable nature of environmental and social well-being means that these extreme events also come at a cost to local communities. Already we are seeing widespread displacement and public health threats as a result of a warming planet. If we want to stop these destructive impacts, we need bold, progressive leadership at the federal level that would seriously work to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s why, when an administration that actually cares about the climate crisis took over, Friends of the Earth and its supporters went to work. Along with nearly 600 other groups, we urged Biden to make good on his campaign promise and issue an executive order to halt new fossil fuel leasing as part of his climate agenda. Notably, stopping fossil fuel leasing would reduce carbon emissions by 280 million tons per year. To complement this push, we asked our members to act by signing a petition urging Biden to stop new fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and waters.
And within days of taking office, Biden listened! In January, Biden signed a slew of executive orders to address the country’s role in the climate crisis — including a moratorium on all new fossil fuel drilling on federal lands and waters!
This moratorium is a huge first step in confronting the climate emergency. By committing to this pause on leasing, the Biden administration is working towards building a future that puts wild places, people, and climate over corporate profit. We will not let our government continue to hand our public lands over to be destroyed by the fossil fuel industry.
Had it not been for the support of our over 23,000 members putting pressure on Biden, new federal oil and gas lease sales could still move forward with complete disregard for our climate and local communities. This is a huge win that shows that when we use our shared voice, we make progress!