New Report: How President Biden Can Make Our Public Lands and Waters A Part of the Climate Solution and Deliver on His Policy Commitments
Today, Earthjustice and Evergreen Action are releasing their first-ever joint policy report, Meeting the Moment: How President Biden Can Align the Federal Fossil Fuel Program to Deliver on Climate and Put People Over Profits. In the midst of record high gas prices, fossil fuel companies are demanding that the government double down on new leasing that would only further exacerbate the climate crisis and guarantee continued record-high profits for the fossil fuel industry.
Rather than locking in decades of fossil fuel production, President Biden can seize this opportunity to supercharge historic clean energy investments and align our federal fossil fuel program with his campaign promises on climate and environmental justice. This is a crucial moment, because fossil fuel emissions from our public lands and waters represent a quarter of all national carbon emissions, and must be addressed to meet our climate goals.
President Biden promised the American people that he would put an end to new drilling on public lands and waters. But currently, the federal fossil fuel leasing program is out of step with that commitment. Evergreen and Earthjustice’s new report provides clear policy recommendations to overhaul the leasing program and achieve the three following objectives:
- Swiftly and legally phase out new federal fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters, including oil, gas, and coal.
- Limit federal fossil fuel production from existing leases to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement and President Biden’s climate and environmental justice commitments.
- Lead a just transition away from a fossil-fueled economy for communities historically and currently impacted by federal fossil fuel leasing, while investing in an inclusive clean energy future.
“We’re out of time for action on climate change. President Biden can tackle nearly a quarter of U.S. carbon emissions by using his legal authority to reform oil, gas, and coal extracted from public lands and waters,” said Earthjustice Vice President of Litigation for Lands, Wildlife, and Oceans Drew Caputo. “This administration has a moral responsibility to ensure that its policies leave a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. This report lays out a clear pathway to do so.”
“In week one, President Biden took promising steps to end fossil fuel leasing on America’s public lands and waters, in line with his bold climate and clean energy agenda. But today, oil, gas, and coal corporations continue to use the federal leasing program to abuse lands, poison communities, and pollute the planet, even as they gouge Americans at the pump,” said Evergreen Action Chief of Staff Lena Moffitt. “While industry has seized on the global energy crisis as an excuse to double down on fossil fuels, the fact is that more leasing will do nothing to address high gas prices. Gutting our public lands even further will only worsen the climate crisis and perpetuate our dependence on fossil fuels — and the high prices that inevitably come with them. Rather than succumbing to industry pressure, the Biden administration must correct the massive fossil fuel subsidy that is the current fossil fuel leasing program and instead lead a just transition to a clean energy future. As our paper outlines, the Biden administration has the clear legal authority to align federal fossil fuel leasing with its climate goals. President Biden can and must take action now to ensure that America’s public lands and waters are part of the solution on climate, not driving the problem.”
Fossil fuel extraction is bad for our health, our communities, our environment, and our climate. To make matters worse, out-of-date federal policies provide numerous de facto industry subsidies at taxpayer expense, and often allow companies to walk away from the pollution they’ve created. And while industry rakes in record profits, experts are predicting record sea level rise in the Gulf of Mexico, and more than 40% of Americans are impacted by climate-related disasters. Industry’s demands for more federal leasing run directly counter to our ability to limit warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and will do nothing to address high prices in the near or mid term. Evidence shows that new offshore leasing takes on average 10 years to develop. New leases wouldn’t lower high gas prices today — but would lock in fossil fuel infrastructure and corresponding emissions for decades.
The impacts of the climate crisis are only worsening. Earthjustice and Evergreen’s new report outlines a blueprint for President Biden to use existing executive authorities relating to the federal onshore and offshore oil, gas, and coal leasing programs to take action in line with his commitments to a just transition that prioritizes the health and economic wellbeing of our communities — while addressing climate change and holding the fossil fuel industry accountable. The report also outlines steps that Congress should take to pass transformative investments towards building a truly equitable, thriving, and secure clean energy economy.
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.