For Immediate Release
Analysis: Leased Fossil Fuels on Public Lands, Oceans Will Be Producing Decades Beyond Paris Climate Targets
Study Supports Calls on President Obama to 'Keep It in the Ground’
WASHINGTON - A new analysis finds that coal, oil and gas already under lease on public lands and oceans in the United States will last far beyond the point scientists predict the world will exceed the temperature targets set out in the global climate agreement that was reached in Paris. The findings support the growing call to President Obama by hundreds of organizations to immediately halt new federal fossil fuel leasing — a step that will keep up to 450 billion tons of potential carbon pollution from reaching the atmosphere.
- Federal crude oil already under lease will produce for the next 39 years, through 2055. These production horizons extend 34 years beyond the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold and 19 years beyond 2 degrees Celsius.
- Federal coal already under lease will produce 25 more years, through 2041 or 20 years beyond the 1.5-degree threshold and 5 years beyond the 2-degree threshold.
- Federal natural gas already under lease will produce 28 more years, through 2044. That is 23 years beyond the 1.5-degree threshold and 8 years beyond 2-degree threshold.
The American public owns nearly 650 million acres of federal public land and more than 1.7 billion acres of Outer Continental Shelf — and the fossil fuels beneath them. This includes federal public land, which makes up about a third of the U.S. land area, and oceans like Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard. These places and the fossil fuels beneath them are held in trust for the public by the federal government; federal fossil fuel leasing is administered by the Department of the Interior.
Over the past decade, the combustion of federal fossil fuels has resulted in nearly a quarter of all U.S. energy-related emissions. An 2015 report by EcoShift Consulting, commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, found that remaining federal oil, gas, coal, oil shale and tar sands that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. As of earlier this year, 67 million acres of federal fossil fuel were already leased to industry, an area more than 55 times larger than Grand Canyon National Park containing up to 43 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.
Download Grounded: The President’s Power to Fight Climate Change, Protect Public Lands by Keeping Publicly Owned Fossil Fuels in the Ground (this report details the legal authorities with which a president can halt new federal fossil fuel leases).
Download The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels (this report quantifies the volume and potential greenhouse gas emissions of remaining federal fossil fuels) and The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions fact sheet.
Download Public Lands, Private Profits (this report details the corporations profiting from climate-destroying fossil fuel extraction on public lands).
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.