Dem-sponsored bill would block federal fossil fuel development

Greg Nash

A House Democrat on Thursday introduced a bill that would ban all future fossil fuel production on federal land. 

Rep. Jared Huffman's (D-Calif.) Keep It In The Ground Act would block new leases to tap fossil fuel reserves on federal land and in federal waters in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico. 

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Huffman said Thursday that now is the time to begin transitioning from fossil fuels to cleaner energy.

“What we put off today will only make the cost and the damage for our children greater tomorrow,” he said. 

The bill is the House version of legislation introduced in November by Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Wells CEO Stumpf resigns from Fed advisory panel Senate Dems call for investigation into Wells Fargo's wage practices MORE (D-Ore.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders discourages third-party votes: 'Not the time for a protest vote' Trump: Sanders supporters 'like Trump on trade, a lot' Sunday shows preview: Both sides gear up for debate MORE (I-Vt.), who is running for president..

The bills are part of a movement from green groups and environmentalists to encourage lawmakers to wean the U.S. off of fossil fuels by blocking future development where they can. 

“Our movement is more powerful than it ever has been, and our elected officials are responding to that with more thoughtful policies,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said.

This bill “gives Congress the opportunity to take the next step against climate disruption, which is to keep dirty fuels in the ground,” he added.

Huffman’s bill has 17 Democratic co-sponsors. And although the bill has no shot of moving forward in the Republican-controlled Congress, Huffman and environmental groups said Thursday that they’re seeing their plan win more support from both the public and top politicians.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDebate organizer questions fact-checking: 'What is the big fact, what is a little fact?' Sanders discourages third-party votes: 'Not the time for a protest vote' Trump adviser: Polls show public starting to 'really wake up' MORE told an activist last week that ending federal fossil fuel production was a “done deal” for her

“This is the sort of the legislation that gets us far in that direction,” Bill McKibben, the co-founder of climate group 350.org, said.