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Groups rebut inaccurate Obama administration statements on ‘Keep It in the Ground’ movement

Ending new federal fossil fuel leasing is common sense, science-based and would align U.S. energy policy with its climate goals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Climate, community and environmental-justice groups issued a statement today responding to several inaccurate comments by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren about the growing “Keep It in the Ground” movement. The statement explains that our organizations seek to help stem the climate crisis by halting new fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans.

Recent statements by Obama administration officials have mischaracterized the “Keep It in the Ground” movement and concluded it is “naïve” and “unrealistic.”

This statement explains the #KeepItInTheGround movement objectives and why they’re essential to meeting global climate goals.

The statement reads:  

We are not calling for the extraction or consumption of fossil fuels to stop overnight.  Rather we propose accelerating the transition to clean energy by managing our public lands and oceans in a manner consistent with the broad public interest and best science by no longer issuing new federal fossil fuel leases.  

The science is clear: At least 80 percent of the world’s known fossil fuels need to stay unburned to avoid the worst climate change damage. We can’t expect rapid enough adoption of alternatives and efficiency while simultaneously flooding the globe with ever more fossil fuels. Locking in dependence on fossil fuels hinders adoption of alternative energy.

Halting new federal leases on public lands and oceans, and allowing existing ones that are not yet producing to expire, could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 100 million tons per year by 2030 and would send a powerful signal to investors and to other countries that the United States is aligning its long-term energy decisions with a clean energy future. Further, already leased federal fossil fuels are capable of producing for decades at current rates far beyond the point when, to meet Paris climate goals, the world will have to be largely off of carbon-based energy.

A just transition to clean energy will not happen overnight. But continuing to lock in future fossil fuel production and infrastructure well past the point when that transition must happen is a recipe for catastrophic climate disruption. 

The Obama administration has made many critically important climate decisions including rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and advancing clean energy policy.

President Obama could take a powerful step toward further defining his climate legacy by ending new leases for federal fossil fuels on lands and waters set aside in the public interest and jump-starting the transition to a clean energy economy.

The groups signing today’s statement include 350.org, Bold Nebraska, the Center for Biological Diversity, Energy Action Coalition, Environment America, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Oil Change International, Natural Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network, Science and Environmental Health Network and WildEarth Guardians.

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Contacts:

Jason Kowalski, 350.org, (202) 670-5345, jason@350.org 
Jane Kleebe, Bold Nebraska, jane@boldnebraska.org, (402) 705-3622 
Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894, rspivak@biologicaldiversity.org 
Akilah Sanders-Reed, Energy Action Coalition, (505) 620-0115, akilah@energyactioncoalition.org 
Rachel Richardson, Environment America, (971) 570-1161, rachel@environmentamerica.org
Adrienne Bloch, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2000, abloch@earthjustice.org
Ben Schreiber, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0752, BSchreiber@foe.org
Diana Best, Greenpeace, (415) 265-8122, diana.best@greenpeace.org
Lauren Berutich, Great Old Broads For Wilderness, (970) 385-9577, lauren@greatoldbroads.org
David Turnbull, Oil Change International, (202) 316-3499, david@priceofoil.org
Franz Matzner, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 289-2365, fmatzner@nrdc.org 
Virali Modi-Parekh, Rainforest Action Network, (510) 747-8476, virali@ran.org 
Kaitlin Butler, Science and Environmental Health Network, (801) 910-4820, kaitlin@sehn.org 
Tim Ream, WildEarth Guardians, (541) 531-8541, tream@wildearthguardians.org

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