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A Huge Amount of Fossil Fuel Drilling Happens on Public Lands and Waters. Biden Is Taking Steps to Change That.

The federal government has handed over vast swaths of public lands and waters to private corporations to drill for oil, mine for coal, and otherwise exploit. As a result, nearly 25% of climate-cooking emissions from the United States come from fossil fuels pumped or mined from lands and waters that belong to all Americans.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of fueling the climate crisis and the extinction boom, public lands and waters can be part of the solution. On his first day in office, President  Biden took two steps toward making it so. One move protects most of the Arctic Ocean and some important Atlantic Ocean canyons from drilling; the other puts a 60-day pause on new oil and gas leasing across all public lands and waters.

Read on to learn how these actions will help and what steps the Biden administration must take next.

Massive drilling on our public lands and waters is incompatible with a healthy future for our planet.

The Biden administration is headed in the right direction.

  • President Biden signed an executive order reversing President Trump’s efforts to expand and deregulate offshore drilling and affirming that most of the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic canyons are permanently closed to drilling
  • Acting Secretary of the Interior Scott de la Vega signed an order to halt his agency from issuing oil and gas leases on federal lands, minerals, and waters for 60 days.
  • There are lease sales scheduled for March. It’s unclear if those will proceed.

President Biden promised to halt oil & gas leasing on federal land for a longer term to combat climate change. Here’s how he should move forward.

  • Immediately reinstate President Obama’s coal leasing moratorium. Burning coal mined from public lands contributes an estimated 10% of U.S. emissions.
  • Extend the 60-day pause on oil and gas leasing to at least two years and use that time to conduct a full analysis of the environmental, climate, and economic consequences of the federal onshore and offshore oil and gas programs.
  • Strengthen health, safety, and environmental protections, such as regulations that limit the amount of methane — a toxic, climate-heating chemical — that oil-and-gas operations can release into the air
  • Work with Congress to close legal loopholes and ensure a fair return to taxpayers by increasing the amount that private corporations pay to lease these lands.

You can help! Call on the Biden administration to issue a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.

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