Biden’s pause on leasing & other actions are necessary first steps to protect climate, community health

BackgroundPresident Biden is set to sign several Executive Orders today fulfilling campaign promises he made to act on climate, environmental justice and equity within the first 100 days of his administration. These moves build upon orders made by Biden on his first day in office, including rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and calling for immediate review of harmful rollbacks to national environmental and health protections.

Statement by Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel: 

“The President’s oil and gas leasing moratorium and other executive orders on climate reflect that when you’re in a hole, the first step to getting out is to stop digging. Pollution from existing fossil fuel facilities are already harming health and worsening the climate crisis, and disproportionately impacting poorer and historically marginalized communities.

“This leasing moratorium, focus on environmental justice, and commitment to crafting a government-wide climate action plan are all necessary first steps to begin to enact right-sized policies that swiftly and carefully manage the decline of fossil fuel use and a transition to a healthier, just and more equitable energy future. We hope the President follows this leasing pause with a more permanent moratorium on leasing and permitting of all fossil fuels on our public lands.

“Earthworks’ investigations of oil and gas operations have documented significant and dangerous pollution emissions. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on all oil and gas facilities, the Biden administration’s commitment to science-based policy demands as bold action as the law allows, including using the Clean Air Act to cut oil and gas production’s methane pollution 65% by 2025.”

Statement from residents impacted by oil and gas pollution on federal public lands:

Reverend David Rogers, Minister of The First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and a member of Citizens Caring for Our Future (CCFF):  “It breaks my heart to see New Mexico’s ‘land of many uses’ left as a land of NO uses by industrial waste. Once oil and gas comes, there is no chance for recreation, hunting or agriculture to return.”

Don Schreiber, rancher in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico: “New Mexico is awash in oil & gas and oil companies already holding thousands of acres of leases. President Biden hitting pause on further leasing gives Governor Lujan Grisham’s climate change actions, like new methane rules, a chance to take effect and for a transition to cleaner energy to begin.”

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