WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of Senators led by Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced today that they will re-introduce the Keep It in the Ground Act in response to President Trump’s Executive Order lifting the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s moratorium on federal coal leasing.
Merkley was joined by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
“Climate change caused by burning fossil fuels is causing great destruction to our rural resources: our fishing, our forests, and our farming,” said Merkley. “The damage is accelerating, making it an economic and moral imperative that we quickly transform our energy economy from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy. In that context, it would be a monumental mistake for the U.S. to keep issuing new leases for the extraction and combustion of our citizen-owned gas, coal, and oil. Not only would such leases directly magnify the destruction, but they would also undermine the international leadership of the United States in addressing this threat to our planet.”
“President Trump’s action to roll back the moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands, as well as his other disastrous environmental policies, is a threat to the wellbeing of our country and the entire planet,” said Sanders. “At a time when we are already seeing devastating harm in the United States and around the world as a result of climate change, scientists tell us that we must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground. Mr. Trump, you cannot run a government by rejecting science. Listen to the scientific community, not the CEOs of the fossil fuel industry. Our job is to save the planet, not to make more profits for the oil, gas and coal and industries.”
“Our bill ensures that American leadership in fighting climate change will continue, our work to promote the clean energy revolution will continue, and Americans and our public lands will be safer in the process,” said Schatz.
“Our federal lands belong to us all – not just Big Oil and Big Coal executives willing to defraud the American people about climate change just so they can extract every last drop of profit out of the ground,” said Warren. “This bill is about fighting for our families, when President Trump seems more focused on industry profits. It’s about doubling down on 21st Century clean energy jobs, empowering the ingenuity of American builders, and letting our coastal communities, our farmers, and our children know that we will fight for their future.”
“Today the greatest threat to our planet, to our way of life, and to future generations is climate change,” said Leahy. “As a nation we must act before it is too late by taking ambitious and commonsense steps to deal with climate change, and that includes stopping new fossil fuel leases on our public lands. When you’re in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. Doing that will help ensure that we manage the public’s lands for the public good, and not merely for the enormous corporate profits that would be gained by further fueling this global crisis.”
“It’s time to tell the Trump Administration loud and clear that our public lands should be just that—public assets that are part of our national heritage,” said Menendez. “We must do everything in our power to stand up to the oil industry, protect our coastal and inland communities, and fight for the people from the Jersey Shore to Alaska’s arctic refuge whose lives and livelihoods are tied to the vitality of the local environment.”
“If we are serious about combatting climate change, we must reduce the amount of fossil fuels we are extracting and burning,” said Gillibrand. “The ‘Keep it in the Ground’ Act would do just that by stopping new leases and ending non-producing leases for offshore drilling in federal waters and coal, oil, gas, oil shale, and tar sands extraction on federal lands. I urge my colleagues to stand against President Trump’s executive order and support this legislation to protect our communities and our environment from the devastating effects of climate change.”
Specifically, the Keep It in the Ground Act would:
· Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for offshore drilling in federal waters.
· Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale and tar sands extraction on federal lands.
Leading environmental advocates, third-party associations, and tribal leaders have championed the Keep It in the Ground movement as an important step to combatting catastrophic climate change. Since introducing the Keep It in the Ground Act in 2015, Senator Merkley has been the leader in Congress fighting to channel the work of the movement into law.
“With Trump in power, it’s more important than ever that lawmakers stand up to the fossil fuel industry to defend our climate and communities,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org. “That’s what the public is demanding: a transition away from coal, oil and gas to an 100% renewable energy future. The ‘keep it in the ground’ movement has fought hard, and together we’ve helped keep huge amounts of pollution out of our air, water and climate. Fossil fuel executives know the public is against them, but they’re using the Trump administration to squeeze out the last few dollars before their industry is replaced by clean energy. The future of our climate and our communities hinges greatly on a just transition to renewables, and we won’t stop fighting until we get it.”
“The Sierra Club applauds Senator Merkley for providing a road map to help tackle the climate crisis while protecting our publicly-owned lands,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Donald Trump is not only failing to protect our public lands, he’s actively seeking to destroy them, which is why Congress must act. By keeping dirty fuels in the ground and furthering the transition to clean, renewable energy, we can protect our clean air and water and ensure a livable future for our children’s and future generations.”
“Senator Merkley’s legislation comes at the right time to resist the Trump Administration’s unprecedented assault on our climate and natural heritage,” said Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Expanded drilling, mining, and fracking will shatter the land, lay waste to our waters, overheat the planet, and pollute local communities. The American people want to invest in clean energy and preserve our remaining pristine wildlands and waters, not plunder them at the behest of a select few private companies.”
“Climate change is one of the most urgent issues facing humankind, and the United States has an opportunity to lead the world in helping stop the worst effects of this ongoing global disaster,” said Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard. “The Keep It In the Ground Act would put us on the path to protecting people and the planet. This legislation, unlike Trump’s executive order, is sound policy based on facts and science. The majority of the people in this country want action on climate change and want to see support for renewable energy. Trump would know this basic fact if he listened to anyone but the last fossil fuel executive he dined with at Mar-a-Lago, or if he listened to facts at all. It’s a relief that there are still leaders in Congress putting people at the center of policy, not just billionaires and industry executives.”
“While the Trump administration is doing everything they can to move us back to a reliance on dirty fossil fuels, we commend Senator Merkley for his leadership and this bold effort to keep moving our country forward toward a clean energy future that works for everyone,” said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski.
“Our current dependence on fossil fuels creates pollution that’s changing our climate, destabilizing our world, and endangering our children’s future while despoiling our public landscapes, poisoning our water and our air. We can’t drill, mine and burn our way out of this crisis, we need to move quickly and boldly to 100% renewable energy. The Keep It in the Ground Act will keep dirty fuels in the ground where they belong while protecting some of our most treasured natural areas and our families’ health,” said Margie Alt, Executive Director, Environment America.
“The Keep It in the Ground Act is an important step in the fight against climate change and dirty energy pollution. The urgency of our climate fight requires an immediate transition away from fossil fuels, not to mention a halt to the inherently dangerous and poisoning process of fracking,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Maryland’s legislature just moved to ban fracking there with the support of the Republican governor, proving that environmental protection and climate action need not be partisan efforts. It’s time for well-meaning officials from both parties to get behind the public and the science, and get behind the KING Act now.”
“Trump just took his war against our climate to a terrifying new level,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “With these massive giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, he proves that his first loyalty is to polluters, not the American public. Anyone who values wildlife, clean air and clean water will be hurt by this plan to let dirty companies pollute our climate and exploit our beautiful public lands. Thanks to Senator Merkley and the other bill co-sponsors who are willing to stand up to Trump’s dangerous agenda.”