The Biden administration must take immediate action to fix the federal oil and gas program, prioritize reducing emissions, and take a significant bite out of global climate pollution by adopting rules to require that fossil fuel development on our shared public lands align with our national climate commitments.
There’s no time to waste. As things stand, a full 90 percent of lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management are open to oil and gas drilling. The agency must revisit the way it handles leasing and permitting for oil and gas companies who want to drill for oil on federal public lands. We need climate-smart regulations – including an oil-and-gas rule – that align decisions about these projects with federal commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions. Our public lands should not be the source of more and more carbon pollution, including massive carbon bombs like ConocoPhillips’ Willow project. Communities who neighbor fossil fuel operations on public lands must be heard. Indigenous, Black, Brown and low-income communities who shoulder and resist disproportionate health burdens from air pollution must be heard. And those inequities and pollution cannot be perpetuated.
Our public lands are special and unique places that support critical wildlife habitat, essential grounds for hunting and fishing, tribal and other cultural connections, enjoyment for people who love the outdoors, and sources of clean, fresh drinking water. Instead of being sacrificed to boost oil companies’ profits, our public lands can and should be part of the climate solution. The Biden administration must take immediate action to fix the federal oil and gas program, prioritize reducing emissions, and take a significant bite out of global climate pollution by changing the rules governing fossil fuel development on our shared public lands to align them with our nation’s climate goals.
The climate crisis is already causing extreme heat waves, droughts, unusually powerful hurricanes, and large-scale wildfires. Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that the only safe path forward is to limit both the burning and extraction of fossil fuels. In a landmark report from the U.N., IPCC scientists warned that projected carbon-dioxide emissions just from existing fossil fuel infrastructure will make it impossible to meet global climate targets.
The federal oil and gas program is drastically out of step with U.S. climate goals. In fact, most public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management are open for leasing and drilling under current policies. This needs to change. Urgent action is needed to avert the worst climate scenarios in the decades ahead.
Current federal policies practically give away our public lands to the oil and gas industry. It favors fossil fuel companies who want to drill on public lands, so they profit while fueling climate change.
The U.S. ranks as the second-largest emitter of greenhouse-gas emissions on the planet, and the equivalent of nearly a quarter of its greenhouse gas emissions stem from fossil-fuel development on federal public lands and waters. Aligning decisions about fossil-fuel development with climate goals would deliver significant climate progress and substantially reduce US emissions.