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Fossil Fuel Foes Urge Obama to Halt Federal Lease Sales

A coalition of environmental groups and individuals opposed to fossil fuels is urging the Obama administration to stop leasing public land -- both onshore and offshore -- for energy development, including for oil and natural gas.

For the first two pages of a 21-page letter with Tuesday's date, the environmentalists berated the administration for leasing nearly 15 million acres of public land and 21 million acres of ocean for fossil fuel development. They added that ending federal lease sales would resolve what they see as the contentious issue of drilling in several areas, including onshore in the Powder and Colorado river basins, and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), and the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

"Each new federal fossil fuel lease opens new deposits for development that should be deemed unburnable," the signatories said. "By placing those deposits off limits, stopping new leasing would help align your administration's energy policy with a safer climate future and global carbon budgets."

Despite taking several actions this year -- including Obama's recent trip to the Arctic, his statements on climate change, action on the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule, and veto of a Keystone XL pipeline bill (see Daily GPIAug. 3May 27Feb. 25) -- the administration has not been in lock-step with environmental groups. On Friday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it would place nearly 43 million acres in the central and eastern GOM up for auction early next year (see related story).

Among the 19 pages of signatories were major groups -- including Earthworks, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the National Audubon Society and the Sierra Club -- and lesser-known ones, such as the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food and Water Watch and Frack Free Colorado. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also signed the letter (see Daily GPIOct. 29, 2009).

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuel sales from federal lands during the 2014 fiscal year included 651 million bbl of crude oil, 3.55 Tcf of natural gas and 117 million bbl of natural gas liquids.

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