The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7139,
Seth Gladstone, Food & Water Watch, (347) 778-2866,

Legal Petition Pushes President Obama to End Crude Oil Exports, Declare Climate Emergency


As the Obama administration prepares to sign the Paris climate agreement, 350 environmental, social-justice, health and faith organizations filed a legal petition today urging President Barack Obama to declare a national climate emergency and end all U.S. crude oil exports. The ban would keep millions of tons of greenhouse gas pollution from escaping into the atmosphere and worsening the climate crisis.

Today's petition, organized by the Center for Biological Diversity and Food & Water Watch, calls on the president to immediately halt the export of crude oil under executive legal authority granted to him by the 2016 Appropriations Act and the National Emergencies Act.

As global temperatures hit record highs, the petition points out that "climate change is unquestionably a national emergency." It also notes that halting crude exports is essential to the Paris Agreement's goal "to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels."

The petition filing comes two days before the landmark climate agreement reached last year is signed in New York. The president signed an omnibus bill lifting the 40-year-old export ban in December, less than a week after agreeing to the Paris climate accord.

"President Obama must halt crude exports to give us a fighting chance to meet the Paris Agreement's crucial climate goals," said the Center's Jean Su. "The president has the legal authority to reverse the terrible mistake he made in approving an end to the longstanding ban on crude exports. He has to seize this opportunity to protect our climate and U.S. communities from drilling and fracking."

"While Americans are increasingly turning against fracking and fossil fuels, President Obama has shockingly seen fit to double down on oil extraction to facilitate needless exports," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. "But the president has a chance to make this right by acknowledging our emerging climate emergency and halting oil exports now. He must seize this opportunity."

Halting crude oil exports would reduce drilling and fracking and could prevent up to 500 million tons of greenhouse emissions -- the pollution equivalent of more than 135 coal-fired power plants, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.

In addition to climate damage, the petition also highlights the devastating threats to public health and safety created by widespread fracking that has played a key role in driving the production of U.S. crude oil for export.

Fracking and drilling have polluted the air and contaminated water supplies in communities across the country. A recent study by Stanford scientists found that fracking and other oil and gas operations contaminated groundwater in Pavillion, Wyo. Another study, published last year in the journal Epidemiology, found that women living near fracking and drilling face a dramatically increased probability of premature births and high-risk pregnancies.

Today's petition is signed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Greenpeace U.S.A., Friends of the Earth U.S., , Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, SustainUS, WildEarth Guardians, Progressive Democrats of America, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, Corporate Accountability International, Waterkeeper Alliance, Environment America, and hundreds of other national, regional and local groups.

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.

(520) 623-5252