Quantcast

400 Groups to Obama: Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground

Climate

With a passionate press conference outside the White House on Tuesday, a sweeping coalition of climate, labor, indigenous and public health groups and leaders called on President Barack Obama to make the U.S. the first nation to commit to keeping all of its remaining, unleased public fossil fuels in the ground.

"Each new federal fossil fuel lease opens new deposits for development that should be deemed unburnable," reads a letter delivered Tuesday. Photo credit: WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

Such a move is imperative, the more than 400 organizations and individuals wrote in a letter outlining their demands.

"The cost of continuing federal fossil fuel leasing to our land, climate and communities is too high," reads the missive delivered Tuesday. "The science is clear that to maintain a good chance of avoiding catastrophic levels of warming, the world must keep the vast majority of its remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Federal fossil fuels—those that you control—are the natural place to begin."

Speaking to Obama's ability to set an international precedent, the letter continues: "Each new federal fossil fuel lease opens new deposits for development that should be deemed unburnable. By placing those deposits off limits, stopping new leasing would help align your administration's energy policy with a safer climate future and global carbon budgets."

The campaign comes just days after the Obama administration announced it would open nearly 40 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to new oil and gas drilling leases and one month after it approved a permit for Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Arctic.

Read page 1

Of course, significant damage has been done on the more than 67 million acres of public land and ocean already leased to the fossil fuel industry.

"Dirty energy companies ruin our lands, while the profit goes elsewhere," said indigenous activist Louise Benally, of Big Mountain Diné Nation, in a statement. "Environmental concerns are not being addressed properly by agencies that should be accountable. Groundwater tables have dropped by big drops, the greenhouse gases being released into the air are not monitored correctly and health impacts are not monitored at all. This devastation of our communities is a kind of terrorism made possible by senators like John McCain, all while President Obama turns a blind eye. These industries are not accountable to the land, the natural world or the people living here. Their destruction has to stop now."

As the Washington Post wrote on Monday, "the statement is significant because it represents the latest stage in the development of a climate grassroots movement that has already brought us the Keystone XL pipeline battle."

Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, which backed the statement, agreed. "I think that this is the next frontier of climate advocacy," he told the Post. "We know that we have made genuine progress in cutting carbon from cars and trucks and increasingly from the electric sector. And all of that is important, it’s necessary—and it won’t get the job done unless we begin to curtail development of fossil fuels, particularly in sensitive areas."

The letter's signatories claim Obama has the power to dub untapped oil, gas and coal reserves "unburnable" under existing federal laws.

"Such leadership is necessary to ensure a livable climate and planet for both present and future generations," they wrote.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

How Republican-led Climate Denial Threatens the Future of the Entire Planet

Fracking Boom Bursts in Face of Low Oil Prices

Is Your Retirement Invested in Fossil Fuels?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less