On December 10th the U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to hold an auction for parcels of land in Michigan and Arkansas. The purpose? Leasing by the federal government of publicly owned lands to private companies, often resulting in drilling for oil and gas.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, the American public collectively owns nearly 650 million acres of public land and the fossil fuels beneath it. It also owns more than 1.7 billion acres of Outer Continental Shelf lands that also contain oil and gas resources. The government holds these auctions regularly, but the upcoming auction on December 10th conspicuously coincides with the final days of the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris. As a result, the Keep it in the Ground movement is trying to pressure President Obama to cancel this auction.
Keep it in the Ground is a movement of environmental organizations that are aiming to slow climate change by keeping remaining fossil fuels in the ground, instead of available for burning and drilling. The participating organizations include large groups such as 350.org, CREDO, the Indigenous Environmental Network and Greenpeace USA. The movement has been successful in getting the support of seven Democratic senators, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. These senators have introduced the Keep It in the Ground Act which came after organizations associated with the movement sent signed a letter addressed to President Obama urging him to stop new federal leasing of fossil fuels.
Jason Kowalski, U.S. policy director at 350.org, has criticized the president for allowing federal leasing auctions to continue while rallying other nations to fight against climate change. “Here we are, negotiating a climate treaty in Paris, and the core point of this treaty is keeping fossil fuels in the ground,” Kowalski told Mashable. “In the midst of that, we’re holding an auction, and the government itself is selling fossil fuels to the highest bidder?”
Obama has cited the need to keep some fossil fuels unburned, and on Nov. 6, he rejected the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a landmark decision seen as a major victory for environmentalists. “They’ve been bragging about it in Paris,” Kowalski said. “…but it’s really hypocritical to be bragging about the Keystone decision in Paris and at the same time be selling fossil fuels to the highest bidder in Washington, D.C., during the final days of negotiations.”
If Obama does not cancel the Dec. 10 auction, groups associated with the Keep it in the Ground movement are planning to hold a rally and press conference outside of the auction site on that date.
Article via Mashable, 3 December 2015
Photo: FERC Protest via A Jones [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]