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Comment by April 15

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Fossil Fuel Review Talking Points

There is no room in the global carbon budget for new fossil fuel developments. The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming. The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond 1.5°C. Staying below 1.5°C precludes any new fossil fuel leasing or development on public lands or oceans.

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns we have 9 years left, until 2030, to reduce global emissions by half if we have even a chance at avoiding warming greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius; 
  • Unlike fossil fuels on private or state land, President Biden has direct authority over the fate of federal fossil fuels on public lands and oceans. He has the authority to act now.
  • Peer-reviewed science estimates that a nationwide federal fossil fuel leasing ban would reduce carbon emissions by 280 million tons per year, ranking it among the most ambitious and effective federal climate-policy proposals.
  • 38 million acres of public lands and waters–an area the size of Georgie–are now leased to oil and gas companies, of which 15 million acres–an area the size of West Virginia–has been drilled. This includes 26 million acres of federal public lands, half of which hasn’t been drilled, and 12 million acres of federally managed oceans, of which only 20 percent has any drilling
  • Federal fossil fuels that have already been leased to industry contain up to 43 billion tons of potential climate pollution; those that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons. Federal fossil fuels make up about half of all fossil fuels in the U.S.
  • Fossil fuel extraction on public lands causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. 
  • 90% of public lands are available to oil and gas leasing. 
  • The US has offered over 2.66 billion acres of federal waters to oil and gas companies under various lease sales since 1954, the start of the federal leasing program. 
  • The Trump administration offered an astounding 516 million acres of federal ocean waters for leasing, but the industry purchased <1% of those offers. 
  •  Development of unleased areas offshore would result in between 19 billion tons and 34 billion tons of additional ghg emissions.That amounts to a social cost of carbon of between $723 billion and $1.2 trillion.
  • As of 2016:
      • Production horizons for all leased federal fossil fuels, if fully developed, would extend significantly beyond the thresholds for 1.5°C of global warming.
      • Crude oil under federal lease would last 39 years, through 2055; 
      • Coal under federal lease would last 25 years, through 2041; 
      • Methane gas under federal lease would last 28 years, through 2044; 

Sample Letter

Thank you for your climate leadership and for undertaking a long-overdue climate review of the federal fossil fuel programs. I urge you to undertake a full and rigorous environmental impact study to end new federal fossil fuel leasing and implement an orderly, managed decline of production. 

If done correctly, it will show what scientists have said: There’s no room for further fossil fuel development if we want a livable planet. 

Pollution from the world’s already-producing oil and gas fields — if fully developed and without factoring in coal — would push warming well past 1.5 degrees Celsius. That means any new oil, gas or coal leasing on public lands and waters is incompatible with U.S. climate goals. 

Phasing out the federal fossil fuel programs will benefit public health, especially that of low-income communities and communities of color who already experience disproportionate pollution and climate impacts. Cutting climate pollution and stopping the destruction of public land and ocean habitat for endangered species will prevent the worst of the climate and extinction crises. 

I urge you to work with other federal agencies, Congress, tribes and state governments to ensure an orderly phaseout of federal fossil fuel production — one that ensures a just and equitable transition for states and communities that are economically dependent on and impacted by federal fossil fuel development. 

Please fully consider the social, economic and environmental costs of climate inaction. The United States must demonstrate strong global leadership by ending new leasing on public lands and waters.

Thank you for your consideration.