Merkley Statement on New Halt to Coal Leasing on Public Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, the lead sponsor of the Keep It in the Ground Act, released the following statement after reports that the Interior Department will halt new leases for coal production on federal public lands until further studies about the environmental impact of continuing coal production have been completed. The Keep It in the Ground Act would end all new leases for coal, oil, gas and tar sands extraction on federal public lands.

“These leasing reforms represent a breakthrough moment for American leadership in the fight against climate change. The science is clear: if we want to prevent catastrophic climate change, we will have to leave the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground rather than extracting and burning these dirty fuels. A new coal lease can lock in 30 to 50 years of additional coal mining, so ending new leases for coal is a great place to start. The time is right to transition rapidly from a fossil fuel economy to a clean energy economy, and that means keeping it in the ground.”