Keep It in the Ground
It’s time to keep fossil fuels where they belong: in the ground
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to keep the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground. That means moving away from coal, oil, and natural gas, and towards a renewable energy future.
Keep fossil fuels in the ground
Science has spoken: the path to a sustainable future for people, wildlife, and the climate does not include fossil fuels.
In fact, a 2015 study in the journal Nature revealed that we need to leave at least 80 percent of the world’s known remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground to prevent runaway climate change. That includes more than 90 percent of U.S. coal reserves and a whopping 100 percent of Arctic oil and gas.
Our government has made addressing climate change a priority, yet it continues to lease our public land and water for fossil fuel extraction. In 2014 alone, the fossil fuel energy produced from public land included 706 million barrels of oil, 3.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 421 million tons of coal — contributing billions of tons worth of carbon pollution.
We cannot allow this contradiction to continue. In the final year of his presidency, President Obama can make vital changes to the way this country uses fossil fuels — changes he needs to make if he truly wants to be remembered as a climate leader.
There’s a reason that coal has been singled out in the fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground. It’s one of the most polluting energy sources out there, the single largest contributor to global warming, and makes us sick by polluting our air and water with toxic pollution like mercury.
Despite this, the U.S. government has a long history of giving away our public land to coal companies — so much that today, 40 percent of the coal mined in the United States belongs to taxpayers.
We stand with millions of Americans when they say this is a big mistake for the health of communities and our environment. The Obama administration took a step in the right direction when it announced a major overhaul of the federal coal program earlier this year, a change that includes a moratorium on new coal leases on public land. That move alone will keep billions of tons of coal in the ground.
But there’s more work ahead of us.
No Offshore Drilling
Our public lands aren’t the only critical battleground in the fight to phase out fossil fuels — offshore oil and gas drilling is a growing threat to our health and climate.
Big oil companies have profited from the exploitation of U.S. public land and water for decades. Their activities have not only devastated land and water that belongs to American taxpayers, but also pushed us steadily closer to climate chaos.
The industry’s greed only grows, fed by a clamor to exploit oil and gas reserves and continue to profit at the expense of people, wildlife, and the climate.
Take the Arctic, for example.
Due to global warming and melting sea ice, the oil deep in Arctic waters is now accessible for the first time. Corporations like Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP want to drill for it.
That’s right — oil that was once out of reach because the Arctic was frozen is now accessible because of climate change. And the very companies responsible for climate change want more oil to make climate change worse.
The good news is that your resistance has kept Arctic oil safe thus far. An incredible global movement forced Shell out of the Arctic in 2015 and prompted President Obama to make the U.S. Arctic off limits to oil drilling until 2017. But to keep it that way, we need to keep the pressure on.
Our oceans are worth more than oil company profit.
Right now, the Obama administration’s proposed plan for offshore drilling — known as the Five-Year Plan because it covers the years 2017-2022 — would expand oil and gas extraction in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico.
While it’s encouraging that the Atlantic Ocean was left out of this plan, it isn’t enough. If he’s serious about tackling climate change, the president needs to keep all U.S. fossil fuels in the ground — and underwater — and lead the transition to clean, just, renewable energy.
Take Action to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground
With realities of climate change setting in, the last thing we need is more fossil fuels.
From the Arctic to the Gulf and everything in between, our call to President Obama is united: keep it in the ground. This movement is riding a serious wave of momentum — let’s let this be the start of a revolution against fossil fuels.