Merkley Applauds New Steps to Limit Offshore Drilling in Atlantic and Arctic, Presses for Further Action to ‘Keep It in the Ground’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the U.S. Department of the Interior released a new version of its five-year drilling plan that pulls back on proposed drilling off the Atlantic Coast and puts the Arctic off-limits through 2022. The new plan is the latest example of the Obama Administration limiting federal participation in fossil fuel extraction as the “Keep it in the Ground” movement gains steam. 

“If we are to stop catastrophic climate change, we need to act without delay to keep fossil fuels in the ground. I applaud the Obama Administration for listening to the voices of ordinary Americans who spoke out against expanded drilling off the Atlantic Coast and in the Arctic. Opening up new areas to oil exploration at a time when we are already beginning to deal with devastating impacts from climate change would be the height of irresponsibility. 

“The administration has taken a series of important steps. Now it’s time for the United States to demonstrate bold climate leadership by permanently getting out of the business of fossil fuel extraction. Our public, citizen-owned lands and waters should be managed in the public interest, and that means not extracting and burning more harmful fossil fuels from our federally-owned reserves. We need to Keep It in the Ground.”

In recent months, the administration has blocked the Keystone Pipeline, announced a pause in new leases for coal extraction on federal land, and canceled proposed lease sales in the Arctic Ocean.

Merkley is the lead author of the Keep It in the Ground Act, legislation that would end all new leases for coal, oil, gas and tar sands extraction on federal public lands and waters.