For Immediate Release
100,000+ Urge President to End Fossil Fuel Leasing from Public Lands and Waters
Keep it in the Ground” petition meets goal, response from White House required
WASHINGTON - A petition calling for an end to fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters has garnered more than 100,000 signatures on the White House’s “We the People” online platform, surpassing the threshold necessary to trigger an official response from the White House.
The petition, supported by a number of progressive organizations, calls on the President to “secure [his] climate legacy by halting all new drilling, fracking, and mining on public lands and waters, including stopping all new offshore drilling in the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic.”
Initiated by the Other98, Oil Change International and Greenpeace USA, the campaign to collect signatures and force an official White House response includes a broad range of additional progressive organizations, including: Courage Campaign, Daily Kos, Environmental Action, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, The Nation, Stand (formerly ForestEthics), Rainforest Action Network, WildEarth Guardians, and WatchDog.
“In the last nine months, President Obama has rejected the Keystone pipeline, cancelled Arctic Ocean drilling leases, and halted new coal mining leases on public lands. But our children and grandchildren need him to be even more audacious in stabilizing the climate,” said John Sellers, Executive Director of Other98. “When this President looks back in 25 years, will his legacy be as the President who finally broke with Big Oil, or the President who left our oceans and public lands on the table?”
“The movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground has been growing at an amazing clip all around the country. We’re excited to hear from the White House in response to this petition, because we know that if they are serious about tackling climate change, they will heed this call,” said David Turnbull, Campaigns Director at Oil Change International. “Allowing for continued extraction of fossil fuels on our public lands endangers communities and fails the climate test. We need to stop digging and drilling away our future, and our public lands are a great place to start moving in a new direction.”
“Thousands from all across the country are united behind the call to keep all fossil fuels in the ground. This growing movement is providing support for President Obama to secure his climate legacy. We are united behind a clear demand: protect our communities, our environment and our climate from those who have placed profit over people. The President should listen and act,” said Vicky Wyatt, Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.
The petition milestone comes amidst a series of escalating protests at federal fossil fuel lease sales in recent months, including a recent sale at the Superdome in New Orleans which saw hundreds of protesters disrupting the sale proceedings and expected activity at hearings across the country regarding the Obama administration’s most recent draft offshore drilling plan.
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“Extreme oil, coal and fracked gas are over,” said Ross Hammond, US campaigns director, Stand. “We need to leave fossil fuels in the ground and anyone who is paying any attention to justice, safety, and the environment knows exactly why. President Obama understands the imperative and the urgency. The time to act is now.”
“The current practice of selling off America’s precious public lands and waters for pennies on the dollar to some of world’s dirtiest and wealthiest corporations must stop now,” said Ruth Breech, senior climate and energy campaigner with Rainforest Action Network. “This outdated corporate giveaway no longer serves our communities, our climate or our children’s future and ending it is the single most important action on the climate Obama can take in his remaining months in office.”
“Public lands belong to the American people,” said Dr. Gabriela Lemus, President of Progressive Congress. “Current leasing practices damage the land while leaving Americans to suffer the consequences. As more oil companies go bankrupt, oil wells are abandoned and orphaned, requiring extensive clean-up and creating serious health hazards. President Obama has set climate objectives and pledged to reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels to hasten our departure from dirty energy. This is a great opportunity for him to live up to those promises: leave fossil fuels untouched underground and protect the land for future generations to enjoy.”
“President Obama speaks eloquently about the threat of climate change, but while in office he has enabled a dramatic increase in domestic oil and gas production, especially on our treasured public lands,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “We are quickly approaching climate crisis and must reject fossil fuels now. President Obama should use his remaining time in office to ban fracking, keep fossil fuels in the ground by halting leases on federal lands, and lead us on a path to a 100% renewable energy future.”
“President Obama can use his executive authority to get us on the right track,” said Mara Schechter, Campaign Director of Daily Kos. “He doesn’t need to deal with an obstructionist Congress, or the oil and gas industry. He alone can put millions of tons of carbon off limits.”
“For all the President’s talk on climate change these last seven years, the harsh reality is it’s business as usual when it comes to him selling more than 30 million acres of public lands and waters for fracking for oil and gas,” said Tim Ream, WildEarth Guardians Climate and Energy Campaign Director. “Worse still, climate impacts from not one of these sales have ever even been studied. Our climate and our future demand nothing less than this President keep it in the ground.”
“President Obama made a promise in Paris to cap global warming well below catastrophic levels of 2 degrees Celsius,” said Drew Hudson, director of Environmental Action. “If he’s serious about keeping that promise he’s got to stop permitting new fossil fuel drilling and infrastructure. And that’s the message he’s been hearing all month from the New Orleans superdome to the pancakes not pipelines protest at FERC and in many other places. The call to keep it in the ground is only getting louder this spring and it’s time for the president to listen up.
“The reign of Fossil Fuel Empires is coming to an end. The Keep It in the Ground movement gains strength and momentum every time the federal government mismanages our public lands and waters and tries to sell off publicly owned fossil fuels to the highest bidder. President Obama’s climate legacy depends on keeping fossil fuels in the ground to protect communities and our planet and justly transition to a clean energy economy,” said Marissa Knodel, Climate Campaigner, Friends of the Earth.
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Oil Change International is a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy.