Protect our public lands from fossil fuels

What's At Stake

For decades, the federal oil and gas program has shortchanged taxpayers and provided numerous financial giveaways to oil and gas companies. The oil and gas industry pays far less than market rates to exploit federal public lands and routinely leaves the public on the hook for cleaning up the messes they make. The Bureau of Land Management is developing new regulations to unwind some of these subsidies — a welcome step towards making the oil and gas industry pay its fair share.

As part of the rulemaking, the BLM also asked for input on how it can do a better job of integrating concerns about climate into fossil-fuel leasing decisions. 

It is essential that all decisions made under the federal oil-and-gas program align with commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  Requiring all decisions to comply with these commitments could help prevent future approval of megaprojects such as ConocoPhillip’s Willow project in Alaska.

Addressing climate within the federal oil-and-gas program is an unusual opportunity to leverage significant and meaningful change and ensure necessary protection for public lands resources. Fossil-fuel extraction on federally controlled lands and offshore waters accounts for nearly one-quarter of national greenhouse gas emissions. Since the U.S. is one of the world’s largest emitters of heat-trapping gases, limiting drilling on federal lands would contribute significantly to addressing the global climate crisis. 

The summer of 2023 has brought unprecedented heat waves, record-breaking temperatures nationwide, and the deadliest U.S. wildfire in the last 100 years in Maui, surpassing the deadly Camp wildfire in California in 2018. Without aggressive action to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from oil and gas leasing and development, disasters fueled by the warming planet such as flooding, wildfires, and extreme storm events will only intensify in the decades ahead, causing further damage to our public lands and public health and safety.  

We cannot allow the oil-and-gas industry to profit off federal public lands while it torches the climate. Tell the Bureau of Land Management to end financial giveaways to the fossil fuel industry and implement measures to tie fossil fuel leasing and drilling decisions to our greenhouse-gas reduction goals. 

Oil drilling operations in Kern County, Calif.
Oil drilling operations in Kern County, Calif. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

Delivery to Secretary of the Interior Haaland

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