Obama 'Priority Agenda' for Land, Climate Ignores Fossil Fuel Leasing

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Obama 'Priority Agenda' for Land, Climate Ignores Fossil Fuel Leasing

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration on Wednesday released a 79-page Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources. It details four priority strategies to make U.S. public lands and resources more resilient to climate change but offers no strategy to curb fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters, estimated to produce 21 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. It also lacks safeguards for mature and old-growth forests carbon stores.

Oil and gas development and fracking near Utah’s White and Green Rivers. This image is available for media use. Credit: Taylor McKinnon/Ecoflight

“Obama’s public lands policies only perpetuate the climate problems this plan purports to address,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “If the president truly wants to tackle the climate crisis, he should be phasing out fossil fuel leasing on public lands. Not next week or next year but now, because we’re running out of time.”

A report issued this week by Stratus Consulting estimates that in 2012 the ultimate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel leasing on federal public lands and waters was 1,344 MMTCO2e, about 21 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions emitted by 283 million passenger vehicles.

The new Obama plan also lacks protections for carbon-dense mature and old-growth forests. When forests are logged, most of their stored carbon is emitted as carbon dioxide pollution; temperate rain forests in the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska are among the most carbon-dense forests in the world.

“The Obama administration should end the practice of logging mature and old-growth trees in our national forests,” said McKinnon. “This plan misses a crucial opportunity to protect those forests and their vast carbon stores.”

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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