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Demand a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public lands

Delivery to Biden Transition Team

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What’s At Stake

A new era is beginning — take a deep breath and relax for a second. Now let’s get back to work — because the climate crisis can’t wait. We need to encourage President-elect Biden to move swiftly to act on his promises to deal with climate change. That’s why we’re calling on the incoming administration to issue a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters on President Biden’s first day in office.

Earthjustice has long worked to protect treasured public lands from fossil fuel exploitation. We defeated President Trump's executive order to roll back protections for the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic Ocean from offshore oil drilling, and we successfully defended the Blackfeet Tribe's sacred lands in Montana's Badger-Two Medicine region from oil and gas leasing. But if America is going to act decisively to prevent our public lands and waters from being converted into gas stations, we need to turn the tap off.

20% of our country’s carbon emissions come from fossil fuels extracted from public lands — we can’t afford to let the oil industry drill even more. During the moratorium we propose, the federal government would conduct a comprehensive analysis of the impact of oil and gas production on federal lands — culminating with strengthened and restored regulations to curb the harms of the oil and gas industry.

There is no way to fight climate change without rolling back fossil fuel development, and the federal lands and waters that belong to all of us are the right place to start. President Biden will have the authority to enact the moratorium on his own. We need to tell the Biden administration to send a strong signal, to our country and to the world, that climate change is a crisis that demands swift and decisive action. Business as usual is not enough.

The influential people who will staff the Biden administration need to hear from us. The Department of the Interior oversees our public lands — and its future leader will play a big role in deciding whether to enact the moratorium. Once we know who will be setting the department’s priorities for 2021, we’ll send your letter letting them know that a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public lands must be a top priority, for the sake of our planet, and our collective future.

This is our moment, and we can’t afford to waste it. Please join us in writing a letter urging the incoming Biden administration to protect America's public lands and waters by immediately halting future oil and gas leases on those lands and waters that are shared by all.

Natural gas flare
Spencer Platt

Flared natural gas is burned off at Apache Corporations operations at the Deadwood natural gas plant in the Permian Basin on February 5, 2015 in Garden City, Texas.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.