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4 Sources of Carbon Pollution That Would Dramatically Alter World's Climate

A new report, Dirty Fuels, Clean Futures, released today by the Sierra Club reveals four major potential sources of carbon pollution that, if developed, could dramatically alter the world's climate. Data shows that the oil, gas and coal from these potential sources, including the Arctic Ocean, Green River Formation, Powder River Basin and the Monterey, San Juan Basin and Marcellus shale plays, have the potential to release billions of tons of new carbon pollution into the atmosphere, more than negating positive climate actions taken by the Obama Administration.

Graphic courtesy of Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign

"We can't keep burning fossil fuels and reduce climate pollution at the same time. It's common sense." said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. "As this report demonstrates, real progress to fight climate disruption requires that dirty fuels be kept in the ground."

As the report details, developing just a fraction of the dirty energy in these major climate disrupters would cancel out the U.S.' greatest accomplishments in the fight against climate disruption—efforts like the Obama Administration's new fuel economy standards. Developing just one of these climate disrupters—the Arctic Ocean, for example would result in two-and-a-half times more pollution than would be saved by the new fuel economy standards.

Already, through administrative actions and by doubling down on clean energy, the Obama Administration has done more than any other to reduce carbon pollution. For the first time in 20 years, domestic carbon dioxide emissions are decreasing. An effective climate strategy however, requires that these steps be accompanied by efforts to leave dirty fuels in the ground. Several such pragmatic steps are outlined in the report.

The report calls on the Obama Administration to consider climate pollution, like other dangerous air and water pollution, before dirty energy projects move forward. It asks the President to close loopholes that allow the fossil fuel industry to benefit at the cost of Americans' health, environment and future; and it stresses that new energy projects and leasing should be focused on clean, not dirty, energy.

"Whether they are found beneath our public lands or next to our homes and schools, dirty fuels must be kept in the ground," said Dan Chu, senior director of the Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign. "We should be taking advantage of available clean energy options that will create jobs, protect public health and fight climate disruption."

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