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 the U.S.’s carbon emissions 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 oil and gas industry leases our onshore 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 onshore royalty rate has not been updated since 1920. And, federal bonding requirements do not include costs associated with climate damage. Companies are often allowed to walk away from the pollution they’ve created and leave taxpayers on the hook to pay for clean-up.
We can’t be fooled by false, quick solutions promoted by the oil and gas industry. New federal leasing would do nothing to help Americans at the gas pump or to lead to energy independence. It would only guarantee more money for oil and gas companies at a time when they are already raking in record-breaking profits.
Federal coal leases lead to mines that foul the air, pollute streams, and destroy wildlife habitats on public lands. Federal oil and gas leases have left toxic legacies onshore and offshore that continue to pollute our water, lands, and air years after production has ended. Building more fossil fuel infrastructure will just lock in decades of pollution when we should be building a clean energy future instead.
We need to make our public lands and waters part of the climate solution rather than the climate problem. We need advocates like you to let the Biden administration know it’s time for our public lands, and waters to be managed for the benefit of our communities, our environment, and our climate, rather than corporate polluters.
President Biden has committed to tackling the climate crisis, and we need to help turn his promises into action. Instead of expanding new leasing, 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.