The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Blair FitzGibbon, (202) 503-6141
Ruth Breech, Rainforest Action Network, 415-238-1766 (cell), 415-659-0538 (desk)

New Report Exposes the Top Energy Companies Involved in the Federal Public Lands Giveaway

Report names the largest leaseholders of U.S. public lands and documents their dangerous corporate culture


A week after a broad coalition of environmental, labor and human rights organizations met with White House advisors to call on President Obama to end the federal leasing of publicly owned carbon reserves to corporations, a new report issued today by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) calls out the top dirty energy companies involved in fossil fuel extraction on America's public lands.

The report compiles the top federal leaseholders in each of three fossil fuel arenas: coal mining, onshore oil and gas drilling, and offshore oil and gas drilling. These fossil fuel companies generate millions in profit each year from exploiting these shared national resources, while causing widespread and expensive environmental damage which becomes the responsibility of the American public.

The report details the environmental destruction, corporate giveaway and contributions to climate change from companies like Shell, ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy. This report comes on the heels of the national Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 26. Nationally, over 175,000 people volunteered across the country to care for and maintain these irreplaceable lands.

Ending the federal leasing program would keep our public lands accessible for generations and take 450 billion tons of carbon emissions out of the air. Over 400 groups united to deliver the letter last week, urging President Obama to use Executive Authority to end the program.

The federal leasing program has been under scrutiny through Congressional investigations and scathing reports by the Government Accountability Office. The program provides loopholes that support the mining of coal in the Powder River Basin and maximizing profits for exports to Asia. Offshore drilling in the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic fall under the jurisdiction of this program and come against a raging public outcry to end new leases.

Many of these "Filthy 15" companies are flying under the radar of government regulation and enforcement. The federal leasing program has produced highly questionable business relationships with Cloud Peak Energy, Cobalt and Angolan based Sonangol, and even the Mormon Church.

"We are seeing energy companies making millions off the public land giveaway. These companies have well documented track records of environmental destruction, violations of Indigenous sacred sites, systematic evasions of royalty payments, and passing on the massive clean up costs associated with their operations to the public. This is the worst of the worst," said RAN campaigner and report co-author, Ruth Breech.

"It's time for these companies to take responsibility. While the costs of coal and oil are low, energy companies could stop drilling and mining on public lands and use this as an opportunity to transition to sustainable and more lucrative energy sources," Breech continued.

When President Obama issues an Executive Order to end the federal fossil fuel leasing program, this would end new leases for coal, oil and gas on public lands and offshore waters.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquartered in San Francisco, California with offices staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children.