Executive action halts new oil and gas leasing on public lands and offshore waters
More work lies ahead, but today’s climate orders mark big steps toward a just transition, protecting public lands, and keeping dirty fossil fuels in the ground
Denver—WildEarth Guardians today celebrated President Biden’s bold actions to confront the climate crisis, safeguard public lands, and ensure the United States justly transitions away from fossil fuels.
“Today’s actions by President Biden are historic and absolutely what’s needed to restore and bolster the United States’ momentum in confronting the climate crisis and achieving a just economic transition,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “We still have our work cut out for us, but no U.S. president has done more to energize climate action and make environmental justice a priority.”
In a series of Executive Orders, President Biden issued sweeping direction to align the United States’ federal government with scientifically-based greenhouse gas reduction targets and clean energy goals.
The Orders set bold conservation objectives, including conserving 30% of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030, establish audacious economic revitalization initiatives, and create new, high level agencies and working groups to direct and lead climate action in America.
Notably, President Biden ordered a ban on the sale of public lands and waters for fracking and directed a review of federal fossil fuel management programs. The action represents a monumental step toward winding down and ultimately phasing out coal and oil and gas production on public lands in the American West.
“President Biden’s actions today are a refreshing and long-overdue acknowledgment of the reality that we can’t frack our way to a safe climate,” said Nichols. “It’s time to get the federal government out of the fossil fuel business and into the business of helping communities transition to become cleaner, healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous than ever.”
Added Nichols, “Most importantly, today’s actions ensure public lands will not continue to be sacrificed to oil and gas companies at the expense of our clean air and water, fish and wildlife, and the health and sustainability of the landscape of the American West.”
Five years ago, WildEarth Guardians helped launch a campaign to halt federal coal and oil and gas leasing on public lands. While coal leasing has ground to a virtual halt due to plummeting market demand, oil and gas leasing surged under both President Obama and Trump.
Today’s actions by President Biden are the culmination of intense and persistent grassroots organizing, coalition building, and legal pressure brought by WildEarth Guardians and other groups committed to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
“’Keep it in the Ground’ has been our rallying cry from day one and today, that commonsense approach to climate action is finally being put into action by our federal government,” said Nichols. “With today’s orders, public lands are thankfully being put to work for the climate, not for fossil fuels.”
“We still have our work cut out for us, the fossil fuel industry will certainly fight back under the flags of climate denial and greed,” added Nichols. “But today, President Biden has set the stage for bold reforms that cut through the oil, gas, and coal industry’s denial and deception and make justice a reality.”
For an additional fact sheet provided by the Biden administration, click here.