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WildEarth Guardians condemns Biden plan to sell public lands for fracking as climate hypocrisy and more broken promises

November 1, 2021
Jeremy Nichols, (303) 437-7663, jnichols@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
#ClimateJustice, #JustTransition, #KeepItInTheGround
Denver—As world leaders gather in Glasgow for the 26th United Nations’ Climate Conference, President Biden and his administration announced new plans to sell public lands for fracking, a move WildEarth Guardians condemned as hypocritical, scientifically ignorant, and legally indefensible.

“While President Biden is talking a good talk on climate action, the reality is his administration is actively working to fan the flames of the climate crisis by selling more public lands for fracking,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. “This isn’t just hypocritical, it’s outright deceitful and it truly calls into question whether the Biden administration’s climate agenda is nothing but broken promises.”

This week, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management announced plans to continue move forward with selling oil and gas leases on public lands in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and in several eastern states. All told, the agency has proposed to sell more than 730,000 acres—more than 1,000 square miles—of public lands to oil and gas companies.

The move comes even as millions of Americans have called for an end to fossil fuel production. These calls culminated in a week of action last month by Indigenous, climate, and environmental groups targeting the White House and the Interior Department.

The proposal comes only a week after the United Nations warned that the U.S. and other countries must begin to reduce fossil fuel production in order to limit global warming. In a report prepared by the UN Environment Programme and other research institutions, scientists found that without rapid reductions in oil, gas, and coal production, the world would not meet its goal of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, a core U.S. commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement.

“The truth is, we can’t frack our way to a safe climate,” said Nichols.  “With all eyes on Glasgow this week, the Biden administration seems to be turning its back on reality and throwing climate leadership into the toilet.”

The Biden administration’s plans to sell more public lands for fracking also come on the heels of numerous court rulings holding Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leasing to be illegal, including a ruling last month out of Colorado.

While President Biden initially pledged to pause more oil and gas leasing in order to align federal fossil fuel production with the need to confront the climate crisis, he has since backpedaled.

In August, the Bureau of Land Management announced plans to move forward with new leasing. Citing a federal court ruling out of Louisiana, the agency wrongly claimed it had no choice but to move forward with selling more oil and gas leases. WildEarth Guardians and others have blasted the Bureau over its misleading claim. While court after court has ruled against the agency’s leasing, no court has ever actually ordered the Bureau of Land Management to lease oil and gas.

“The Bureau of Land Management is lying to the American public, claiming they’ve been compelled by a court to sell public lands for fracking,” said Nichols. “The fact is they have absolutely no legal basis to move forward with more oil and gas leasing.”

WildEarth Guardians has been at the forefront of challenging Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leasing, earlier this year filing suit together with Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Western Environmental Law Center over the sale of more than one million acres of public lands for fracking in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

“Frankly, we’re sick of going to court to defend the climate, but if President Biden continues to reject the law, the science, and the public, then we’ll have no choice,” said Nichols. “We hope the administration reconsiders these latest plans to sell public lands for fracking, but we will not hesitate to fight back to protect our planet and our future.”

Climate Action at the White House