Climate: Proposed Senate legislation would end federal fossil fuel leases on public lands

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.
The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

Can the ‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign gain some political traction?

Staff Report

A new bill pending in the U.S. Senate would fundamentally shift U.S. energy policy by ending new leases for fossil fuel exploitation on public lands and canceling existing offshore federal oil and gas leases in the Arctic.

The bill, of course, has little chance of passing Congress at this point, but shows that some American politicians understand the politics — and the math — of climate change.The landmark bill was introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). It would remove up to 450 billion tons from the global pool of potential greenhouse gas pollution — an amount vastly greater than any reasonable U.S. share of the global carbon budget to avoid 2 degrees Celsius degrees of warming.

“If we’re going to solve the global climate crisis, we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and this brave legislation puts us on the right path,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Developing our last publicly owned fossil fuels would cripple our ability to avert worst-case climate impacts.”

If enacted the legislation would sever the Obama administration’s “all of the above” energy policy, which, despite a worsening climate crisis, has continued to expand leasing of federal oil, gas and coal on public lands and oceans. In September more than 400 groups and leaders called on the Obama administration to end its federal leasing program.

Over the past decade, the combustion of federal fossil fuels has resulted in nearly a quarter of all U.S. energy-related emissions. As of earlier this year, 67 million acres 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 a copy of “Keep It in the Ground Act of 2015.”

Advertisements

One thought on “Climate: Proposed Senate legislation would end federal fossil fuel leases on public lands

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s