Quantcast
Energy

Why Climate Leadership Means Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground

This has truly been a landmark year for grassroots environmental action. In the past four months alone, people power has derailed Shell’s Arctic drilling plans, driven the Obama Administration to cancel Arctic oil and gas leases for the next two years, won the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline and exposed Exxon’s decades-long climate denial campaign.

All of this adds up to some serious momentum for the climate movement. To make the most of it in 2016, let’s seize this moment to keep all fossil fuels in the ground.

Activists hold a "keep it in the ground" banner on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Photo credit: Eamon Ryan / 350.org

Why #KeepItInTheGround?

The science is clear: the path to a sustainable future for people, wildlife and the climate does not include fossil fuels.

In fact, a study published in the journal Nature earlier this year specifies that we need we cannot afford to burn a majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves—including more than 90 percent of U.S. coal and all of the oil and gas in the Arctic—if we hope to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Given this science, investing billions of dollars in new fossil fuel exploration and infrastructure—as Shell did during its failed Arctic drilling project—makes absolutely no environmental or economic sense.

And it’s not just burning fossil fuels that’s a problem. The processes of extracting, transporting and refining fossil fuels wreaks havoc on public health and our natural landscapes. Unsurprisingly, marginalized groups—especially low-income communities of color and indigenous peoples—suffer the brunt of these environmental injustices.

Momentum is on Our Side

On the heels of fights like Keystone and #ShellNo, the grassroots environmental movement has never been more united or empowered than it is right now. The incredible organizing that went into these victories serves as a powerful foundation for doing even more and winning even bigger in 2016.

These grassroots wins are turning into the kind of political momentum few thought was possible even a year ago (just in time for global climate negotiations in Paris happening right now).

In rejecting Keystone, the president himself acknowledged that “we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground.”

And recently, seven Democratic senators—including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders—introduced the Keep It in the Ground Act. The legislation would ban all fossil fuel leases on public lands, a key move given the Interior Department’s recent track record.

Forty percent of the coal mined in the U.S. and huge amounts of oil and gas, are managed by the Interior Department. And despite the popular will to move away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy, it recently authorized the potential sale of 10.2 billion tons of coal from our public lands.

That’s pretty bad, but it doesn’t stop at coal. Fossil fuel corporations are also targeting millions of acres of public lands and waters for fracking and oil drilling.

By ending all new leasing of publicly owned oil, coal and gas, the Obama administration could keep more than 450 billion tons of carbon pollution in the ground, nearly 12 times the amount of carbon pollution the world emitted into the atmosphere in 2014.

All Eyes on President Obama

In Paris last week, President Obama included the fact that the U.S. has “said no to infrastructure that would pull high-carbon fossil fuels from the ground” as one of his administration’s most important actions on climate.

It’s clear that the president intends to use his final year in office to forge a legacy of climate leadership. To earn this distinction, he’s going to have to say no more often.

Join the movement for climate action: tell President Obama to keep it in the ground today.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

AEP Dumps ALEC to Help States Implement Clean Power Plan, Expedite Renewable Energy

Exxon Warns Climate Inaction Risks Warming Far Beyond 2 Degrees

Busted: Academics-for-Hire Exposed for Failing to Disclose Fossil Fuel Funding

Obama Administration Cancels Major Fossil Fuel Auction as Pressure Mounts From Climate Movement

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, seen here speaking to the press about the Flint water crisis in 2016, will be the highest ranking official to stand trial over the public health disaster. Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

Judge Orders Michigan Health Director to Face Trial Over Flint Water Crisis Deaths

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon will be the highest ranking official to go to trial so far as a result of an investigation into the Flint water crisis, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Judge David Goggins ruled Monday there was probable cause for Lyon to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Robert Skidmore and John Snyder that prosecutors say were due to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that Lyon was aware of a year before he alerted Michigan's governor, Michigan Live reported. Lyons is also charged with misconduct in office.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Coal-fired power plant near Becker, Minnesota. Tony Webster / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Trump's 'Dirty Power Plan' Could Cost More Than 1,000 Lives a Year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled on Tuesday its long-anticipated replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The new coal pollution rules will increase planet-warming carbon pollution and could cost more than a thousand American lives each year, according to the EPA's own estimates.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler released the "Affordable Clean Energy Rule" today under President Trump's directive. The new plan encourages efficiency improvements at existing coal plants to ensure they operate longer and allows states to weaken, or even eliminate, coal emissions standards. That's a clear difference from former President Obama's plan, which was aimed at phasing out coal and transitioning to cleaner power sources to avoid dangerous climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Two workers in protective gear scrape asbestos tile and mastic from a facility at Naval Base Point Loma in California. NAVFAC / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Why Asbestos Is Still a Major Public Health Threat in the U.S.

Reports surfaced this month that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had proposed a significant new use rule (SNUR) for asbestos in June, requiring anyone who wanted to start or resume importing or manufacturing the carcinogenic mineral to first receive EPA approval.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Rklfoto / Getty Images

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Wants to End EPA’s Cruel Animal Testing

By Justin Goodman and Nathan Herschler

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress recently pressed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its "questionable" and "dubious" animal tests. The lawmakers' demand for information on "horrific and inhumane" animal testing at the EPA comes on the heels of a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found that high-tech computer models are more effective than animal tests.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Wikimedia Commons

Strongest, Oldest Arctic Sea Ice Breaks Up for First Time on Record

The Arctic is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the globe, and now the region's thickest and oldest sea ice—also known as "the last ice area"—is breaking up for the first time on record, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

The breakage has opened up waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen-solid even in the peak of summer.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Climate Justice Edmonton

These Giant Portraits Will Stand in the Path of Trans Mountain Pipeline

By Andrea Germanos

To put forth a "hopeful vision for the future" that includes bold climate action, a new installation project is to be erected along the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion route to harnesses art's ability to be a force for social change and highlight the fossil fuel project's increased threats to indigenous rights and a safe climate.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
A worker inspects recycled plastic in a plastics factory. Getty Images

The Plastic Waste Crisis Is an Opportunity to Get Serious About Recycling

By Kate O'Neill

A global plastic waste crisis is building, with major implications for health and the environment. Under its so-called "National Sword" policy, China has sharply reduced imports of foreign scrap materials. As a result, piles of plastic waste are building up in ports and recycling facilities across the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Aaron Teasdale

The One Thing Better Than Summer Skiing

By Aaron Teasdale

"There's snow up here, I promise," I assure my son Jonah, as we grunt up a south-facing mountainside in Glacier National Park in July. A mountain goat cocks its head as if to say, "What kind of crazy people hike up bare mountains in ski boots?" He's not the only one to wonder what in the name of Bode Miller we're doing up here with ski gear.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!