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Federal Oil and Gas Public Lands Leasing Program Challenged

January 20, 2016
Tim Ream (541) 531-8541 tream@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
#GreaterChaco, #KeepItInTheGround

Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Federal Oil and Gas Public Lands Leasing Program Challenged

Like Coal Last Week, Obama Must Halt Oil and Gas Leasing While Climate and Other Impacts are Finally Studied
Contact: Tim Ream (541) 531-8541 tream@wildearthguardians.org

Additional Contacts:

Aaron Adams – UC Irvine School of Law, Environmental Law Clinic,(650) 248-9321
Suma Peesapati – UC Irvine School of Law, Environmental LawClinic, (949) 824-8337

WASHINGTON, DC—Environmentalists today formally petitionedthe Department of the Interior to produce its first-ever study of climate andother impacts from its public lands oil and gas leasing program, spanning theentire nation.

The move comes on the heels of last week’s State of theUnion address which promised, “to change the way we manage our oil and coalresources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers andour planet.” The Administration followed up its promise with a pledge toproduce a programmatic study of coal’s impacts on taxpayers and the planet.Following that historic “Keep It in the Ground” victory over new federal coalleasing, WildEarth Guardians and the University of California Irvine School ofLaw Environmental Law Clinic are now formally petitioning the Department of theInterior to stop new leasing of public lands for oil and gas drilling andfracking until the Department has completed a long-overdue study of theprogram’s climate and other impacts.

“The Administration’s action last week to shut down further federalcoal leasing was science-based, visionary, and courageous,” said Tim Ream,Climate and Energy Campaign Director, WildEarth Guardians. “Every bit of thelogic behind shutting down new coal leasing applies equally to the federal oiland gas leasing program—let’s shut down oil and gas leasing on public lands thisweek.”

The federal oil and gas program is responsible for more than200 million metric tons ofcarbon dioxide equivalent per year. That’s more than all the annual climatepollution from all of Central America’s 40 million people. Yet despite thesestaggering greenhouse gas emissions, the government has never studied the climateimpacts of the program, as legally required. Treasured landscapes across theU.S. West, places like Colorado’s Pawnee National Grassland,National Forests in Utah’s Uinta Mountains, and the archaeologically rich ChacoCanyon area of the Four Corners Region, in addition to the rural and indigenouscommunities that populate these areas, are under imminent threat from regionalfracking booms.

“Now isthe time for the federal government to translate its talk into action ,” saidAaron Adams, principal author and certified law student with the University ofCalifornia Irvine School of Law’s Environmental Law Clinic. “With today’sfiling, we are asking the Department of the Interior to live up to its legalobligation to study the environmental and social impacts of its oil and gasleasing program—this one’s a no brainer.”

Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and theAdministrative Procedure Act, the Department of the Interior is now required toprovide a reasoned response to the petition in a timely fashion. Activists notethat the President has, as of today, exactly one year left in office, but giventhe accelerating impacts of climate change, hope for much quicker action. Inthe meantime, protests of ongoing oil and gas lease auctions at BLM officesaround the country, protests that have thus far shut down three oil and gaslease auctions, will continue.

Today’s petition has been under preparation for months andincludes calls for study of fracking impacts like air and water pollution andthe threat of earthquakes. Impacts from failed reclamation efforts are alsoraised. The petition can be found here.

Last week’s Secretarial Order halting new coalleasing while a programmatic environmental impact statement is being preparedcan be found here.

Other Contact
Aaron Adams – UC Irvine School of Law, Environmental Law Clinic, (650) 248-9321Suma Peesapati - UC Irvine School of Law, Environmental Law Clinic, (949) 824-8337