The federal government leases vast swathes of public lands and waters to private corporations to drill for oil and gas and to mine for coal. As a result, nearly 25% of climate-cooking emissions from the United States come from fossil fuels pumped or mined from lands and waters that belong to the public. It doesn’t have to be this way. The federal oil, gas, and coal leasing program is broken, and reforming it is crucial to meaningfully address climate change.
The fossil fuel industry leases our public lands from the government at an incredibly low rate – sometimes for less than the cost of a cup of coffee per acre and the federal royalty rate has not been updated since 1920. These paltry amounts do not include costs associated with climate damage and clean-up after fossil fuel companies finish drilling. Companies are often allowed to walk away from the mess they create and leave taxpayers on the hook to pay for clean-up.
We can’t be fooled by false, quick solutions from the fossil fuel industry. New leasing does nothing to help Americans at the gas pumps or lower energy prices nor will it lead to energy independence, it only guarantees more profit for the oil, gas, and coal industry.
Coal leases lead to mines that foul the air, pollute streams, and destroy wildlife habitats on public land that can put its workers in harm’s way. Oil and gas leases have left toxic legacies of offshore and coastal oil spills and pollution from abandoned and orphaned wells that continue to pollute our water, lands, and air years after they’ve been tapped out. Building more fossil fuel infrastructure will just lock in decades of pollution when we should be building a clean energy future that we can achieve.
We need to turn our public lands from being part of the climate problem into being part of the solution. We need advocates like you to let the Biden administration know it’s time our public lands, coasts, and waters benefit people and local communities, not just corporate polluters.
The Biden administration has committed to tackling the climate crisis, and we need to help turn these words into action. Instead of expanding harmful drilling, we must meet this once-in-a-lifetime moment to protect our public lands and waters and move away from our reliance on fossil fuels.