The public land and waters of this country when undeveloped are places that provide refuge and habitat for wildlife, form natural resistance to climate change, and help maintain clean water and clear air that all of us rely on. Further, these lands are the ancestral homes and provide spiritual and cultural significance to many Native American and indigenous people and they provide respite for many seeking solace in the wilderness. However, vast swaths of public lands and waters have been opened up 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 Biden administration has committed to tackling the climate crisis, and we need to help turn these words into action.
During his first week in office, President Biden directed the Department of the Interior to put a pause on oil and gas leasing across all public lands and waters while the administration conducts a comprehensive review of the nation’s federal fossil fuel program.
Encourage the Department of the Interior to follow through on its commitments to address the climate crisis and advance environmental justice by embracing solutions and reforms that benefit people and communities over corporate polluters.
This will be the first time the government has ever done a comprehensive review of the climate and other environmental impacts from oil and gas development on federal lands and waters. Doing so is essential to begin to reform the federal fossil fuel program.
Oil and gas pollution disproportionately harms low-income communities. Air pollution from oil and gas extraction causes public health harms, and long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with higher COVID-19 mortality rates. A pause on oil and gas leasing and re-evaluation of the entire leasing program is a step toward addressing the disproportionate harms on these front-line communities.
We as a country cannot stand up and say we are doing something about the climate and the biodiversity crisis while our public lands are responsible for a quarter of all U.S. emissions from fossil fuel extraction and burning. Tell the Biden administration that we must do all we can to fix the broken federal oil and gas leasing and permitting program.