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Carolers sing reworked Christmas carols addressing the Biden administration's leasing of public lands to the fossil fuel industry on December 2, 2021 at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Friends of the Earth)

'Biden's Oily Christmas': Climate Campaigners Call Out Public Lands Giveaways

"His Interior Department has plowed forward with new oil and gas lease sales that wreck our public lands and exacerbate climate change—all while enriching the CEOs of big oil corporations."

Jessica Corbett

Inspired by the familiar "The 12 Days of Christmas" carol, climate campaigners crashed the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony Thursday night to launch a series of holiday season actions calling out President Joe Biden for leasing public lands and waters to fossil fuel companies.

"No peace on Earth, nor mercy mild. Biden leaves our public lands defiled."

Friends of the Earth's "Biden's Oily Christmas: 12 Days of Public Lands Giveaways" campaign follows a leasing report released by the U.S. Interior Department the Friday after Thanksgiving. Activists are now demanding answers about the document, of which critics have said: "At best, it's outright climate denial. At worst, it's deliberately deceptive."

For the first action of the 12-day campaign, activists distributed free hot chocolate and shared modified versions of songs including "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and "Santa Baby," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and "Let It Snow."

"Hark! The herald angels sing. They say no to oil drilling," the activists sang. "No peace on Earth, nor mercy mild. Biden leaves our public lands defiled."

To the tune of "Let It Snow," they caroled: "Oh climate change is frightful. Big Oil execs are spiteful. They want more leases, Joe. Just say no, just say no, just say no."

Through December 13, the activists will engage in at least one activity each day "to hold the Biden administration accountable for its public lands and climate hypocrisy." The events will be revealed daily on the campaign website,

"President Biden promised to be the first president of the United States to comprehensively address the growing climate crisis and end oil and gas leasing on public lands," the site notes. "But instead, his Interior Department has plowed forward with new oil and gas lease sales that wreck our public lands and exacerbate climate change—all while enriching the CEOs of big oil corporations."

The Interior report was quietly released after the president attended the COP26 climate summit in Scotland and the administration auctioned off part of the Gulf of Mexico.

The campaign highlights three details about Biden's actions on the issue, which critics suggest are even worse than those of former President Donald Trump:

  • President Biden promised to end oil and gas leasing on public lands and protect 30% of U.S. lands by 2030, but his administration posted over 700,000 acres for possible auction in just the first quarter of 2022.
  • At COP26 President Biden assured the world that his plans to cut emissions are not mere rhetoric—then he went home and immediately opened the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history. Offering 80 million+ acres in the Gulf for oil and gas development just days after the international climate talks makes a mockery of those commitments.
  • President Biden is granting more public land drilling permits per month than Trump did in his first three years. With friends like these, who needs enemies? This is a failure of climate leadership.

To the tune of the song for which the activists named their campaign, they sang Thursday, "On the twelfth day of Christmas Joe Biden gave to me, 12 lobbyists lobbying, 11 CEOs a-lying, 10 megastorms a-swirling, nine forests a-burning, 80 million Gulf acres, seven oil-slicked swans a-swimming, six Big Oil bailouts, five golden parachutes, four leaking pipelines, three million orphaned oil wells, too (many) broken pledges, and a climate catastrophe."

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