End the rental of fossil fuels on public lands


With our planet and our communities at stake, it is time to put an end, once and for all, to the extraction of fossil fuels on public lands. The science is clear: to fight the climate crisis, we need to drastically reduce carbon pollution. And, to reduce carbon pollution, we must stop it at the source.

Fossil fuel extraction on public lands accounts for nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

Ending the leasing of fossil fuels on public lands will help prevent climate disasters and improve the health of our planet and our communities.

But sadly, in the face of climate catastrophe, President Joe Biden has been consistently inconsistent on his oil and gas leasing policy.

He blocked drilling in the Arctic Refuge and near Chaco Canyon National Park and pledged to end it everywhere, while selling new leases and approving new drilling.

During the campaign trail, Biden had a bold plan to end fossil fuel leasing on public lands.

And yet he has approved more oil and gas permits per month than Donald Trump has in any given year during his presidency.

Last year, Biden visited Scotland and told the world that the United States was committed to being a climate leader, to return home and hand over 80 million acres of public water. in the Gulf of Mexico to fossil fuel companies. At the time, the administration claimed it was forced to suspend the sale due to a court ruling on Biden’s executive order that suspended new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

This claim was explicitly contradicted by a U.S. Department of Justice brief filed prior to the sale of the lease.

Additionally, instead of proceeding with further lease sales while appealing the case, the Justice Department could have requested a stay of the lower court’s decision pending appeal.

Regardless of what happens in court, Biden has the power to immediately end oil and gas leasing on public lands.

At any time, he could declare a climate emergency and use executive powers to end federal fossil fuel leasing and extraction.

In January, in a case brought by the Sierra Club and its allies, the sale of oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico was overturned by a federal judge who ruled that the administration failed to fully consider the impacts of climate change.

Instead of appealing this decision, Biden should take action and choose to use his executive power, with the backing of the court, to say “no” to new fossil fuel extraction and “yes” to health care. and the well-being of our communities.

In Scotland, Biden told fellow world leaders that his administration is committed to addressing the climate crisis with “actions, not words.” Now is the time to see if those bold words made sense and if he is willing to prioritize the American public over oil CEOs.

Dan Ritzman is the Land, Water and Wildlife Director for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign. This column was produced for Progressive Perspectives, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.


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