August 16, 2022

Now is Biden’s Chance to Tackle the Source of About 1/4 of All US Carbon Emissions

Federal fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters are a bad deal for our health, our communities, our environment and our climate. But today, with gas prices reaching record highs, fossil fuel companies are demanding that the government double their new oil and gas leases, which will only lock us into decades of fossil fuel dependence and exacerbate the climate crisis. For this reason world justice and evergreen action He produced a report that made clear how the Biden administration could harmonize this momentous moment. Federal Fossil Fuel Program Ensuring a more equitable, stable and secure clean energy future with the President’s climate and environmental justice commitments.

The federal fossil fuel program is the mechanism by which the U.S. government leases public land and water to private entities for the extraction and development of oil, gas, and coal. The federal fossil fuel program has played an important role in our history and now presents us with both an inevitable challenge and an opportunity to address the moment we find ourselves in and shape how we want our public lands and waters to be. part of the climate solution. Ultimately, life-cycle emissions from fossil fuels extracted from federal land are responsible. almost a quarter US carbon emissions since 2005

In its current form, the program is not aligned with President Biden’s national climate pollution goal, the goals of the Paris Agreement, or the very clear climate science: no new fossil fuel infrastructure It could be developed anywhere globally if we hope we have a chance to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Meanwhile, outdated leasing policies allow private fossil fuel companies to take advantage of actual subsidies from taxpayers as they exploit federal land and waters, poison frontline communities, and use price-gaining consumers for the fuel they extract from our public lands and waters.

Houses adjacent to the Shell refinery in Norco, Louisiana.

Houses adjacent to the Shell refinery in Norco, Louisiana.

Brad Zweerink / World justice

The federal leasing program also leads to profound environmental injustice. For decades, communities living near fossil fuel extraction, transportation, and processing facilities bear the biggest burden of our nation’s federal energy system. As a result of generations of environmental racism and colonial practices, these effects disproportionately experienced By Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. For example, communities in the Gulf South region are exposed to tremendous pollution from oil processing refineries. more than a thousand offshore oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico, often with fatal consequences. Inhabitants of the small Alaskan Native community of Nuiqsut, thousands of miles to the north, in Alaska’s Western Arctic, rapidly increasing rates of respiratory diseases due to pollution from nearby extraction sites.

Going beyond fossil fuels will eventually accelerate America’s belated efforts to meet its climate commitments, both domestically and with the international community. Investing in clean energy will make America more energy-secure and stabilize energy costs by better protecting consumers from the price increases and geopolitical insecurity inherent in fossil fuels. But we need to take action to get there, and we need President Biden to seize this opportunity for bold leadership.

The new report from Earthjustice and Evergreen lays out a policy roadmap for President Biden and his administration to use their executive powers to achieve three critical goals:

1. Quickly and legally phase out new federal fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters, including oil, gas, and coal.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management must end new offshore oil and gas leases in federal waters by not securing new lease sales in the upcoming Five-Year Program. The Biden administration should also reject new land lease sales that do not comply with the President’s climate commitments. The Biden administration should also withdraw large amounts of federal land from the new lease process, cancel existing leases granted in the Arctic Refuge, and reject the Willow Project permit in the Western Arctic. And for coal, the Biden administration should reissue a full coal lease moratorium without exception that immediately halts new leases.

Natural gas flare from an offshore oil rig in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

Natural gas flare from an offshore oil rig in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

Paul Souders / Getty Images

2. Limit federal fossil fuel production from existing leases to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement and President Biden’s climate and environmental justice commitments.

For example, the Department of the Interior (DOI) should limit the rate of onshore oil and gas production from existing leases to comply with climate commitments. DOI should also ban the routine discharge and flaming of methane gas and choose the “inaction” alternative for major carbon polluting projects proposed to take place.

Lead a just transition from a fossil fuel economy for communities historically and currently affected by federal fossil fuel leases, while investing in a fair and inclusive clean energy future.

To do so, the report recommends that the administration set up a Community Council to raise the concerns of Indigenous and frontline communities, create a Labor and Just Transition Working Group within the White House Environmental Justice Council, and try to identify federal resources that can help decouple the state. It should budget from fossil fuel royalties and distribute responsibly placed clean energy on public lands and waters, including solar and wind power.

How can you help:

Tell the Biden administration to stop federal fossil fuel production and deliver on climate promises!

A wind farm in California's Tehachapi Pass.

A wind farm in California’s Tehachapi Pass.

Patrick Poendl / Shutterstock

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