Greens call for climate review of oil, gas drilling program

Greens call for climate review of oil, gas drilling program

An assortment of green groups is asking the Obama administration to review the environmental impact of onshore oil and gas drilling. 

In a Thursday letter to President Obama, the groups said the Interior Department should freeze all new leases for gas and oil drilling on federal land while it assesses the climate change implications of those activities.

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“The federal oil and gas program can withstand a leasing timeout while climate impacts are being studied,” the groups wrote. 

“With that study in hand, it will become possible for you and your successors in leadership to determine what form that program should take in a climate-constrained world.”

Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, the Rainforest Action Network, Waterkeeper Alliance and WildEarth Guardians all signed the letter to Obama.

The letter is part of the burgeoning “keep it in the ground” movement, which is pushing Obama and other leaders to stop extracting fossil fuels from federal lands. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they're related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential contender, has introduced a bill to do just that. While the Obama administration has declined to stop all federal energy extraction, the president did justify the denial of the Keystone XL pipeline, in part, by saying more fuels need to stay underground in the future. 

Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday that he is looking to tweak the leasing rates oil and coal companies pay when drilling or mining on federal land. 

“Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels,” Obama told Congress. “That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”

In their letter, the groups encouraged him to go even further. 

“You have championed the pressing need for climate action on the world stage and have recognized the imperative to keep some fossil fuels in the ground to leave a hospitable planet for future generations,” they wrote.

“For the federal oil and gas program, there is a crucial step you can take today that will align an outdated energy policy with your climate policy leadership.”