President Obama, we call on you to secure your climate legacy by halting all new drilling, fracking, and mining on public lands and waters, including stopping all new offshore drilling in the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic.
Response to Petition
Thank you for your petition encouraging President Obama to halt fossil fuel development on public lands and waters. The Obama administration is committed to tackling climate change, which threatens the health of our children, our communities, and our planet. The President has led the world in transitioning away from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy, while also fighting to protect America’s great outdoors for future generations.
We are seeing the results already, with unprecedented growth in renewable energy.
- Since 2008, electricity generation from solar has increased more than thirty-fold and electricity generation from wind has more than tripled.
- New cars and trucks are more fuel-efficient than ever and, thanks to the Administration’s fuel efficiency standards, they’re projected to roughly double in overall efficiency from 2010 to 2025. We’ll continue to improve upon this.
- President Obama worked with Congress to secure long-term extensions for tax credits for wind, solar, and other renewables. These extensions will lead to a surge in renewable energy, with approximately 100 gigawatts of new solar and wind projected in the next five years. That’s more than double the amount producing power today.
- That deployment of renewables will provide a bridge to EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which will reduce carbon pollution in the electricity sector by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Just on public lands and waters, the Administration permitted the first-ever solar plant on public lands, the first steel was put in the water for offshore wind, and we are on a path to have 20 gigawatts of renewables permitted. In addition, the Administration has boosted transparency around extractive industries operating on public lands as part of a global, multi-sector partnership.
But even as we move full steam ahead towards cleaner energy, the United States will still need to use fossil fuels in the near term.
So, the Administration is working to ensure that energy development meets higher standards for safety and environmental protection. For example, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has completed -- or will soon complete -- revisions to clean air, water quality, and safety regulations for onshore and offshore oil development, natural gas production, and surface coal mining. The Environmental Protection Agency has also issued guidance to address impacts of hydraulic fracturing with diesel fuels and is taking action to improve the scientific understanding of hydraulic fracturing.
The Administration is also listening to your input on future leasing on federal lands and waters, and putting it into action. DOI announced in January that it will undertake a comprehensive review of the federal coal leasing program to evaluate potential reforms. But in the meantime, the Department paused the process for issuing new coal leases while that review is underway, with limited exceptions. And they want to hear from you -- the review provides several opportunities for input from the public, including a scoping process recently initiated by DOI. Learn more about how you can submit comments.
Your input will also be crucial as DOI completes its 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. In March, the Department announced that lease sales would not be considered in the Atlantic Ocean. Secretary Jewell noted that this decision was informed, in part, by environmental concerns and significant opposition from local communities along the Atlantic Coast.
And, as DOI evaluates potential leasing in the Arctic, any final decision will need to meet the high standard for commercial development in the Arctic just announced by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau in March. DOI will finalize the leasing program later this year, but it’s not too late for you to submit additional comments.
Finally, the Administration is taking action to ensure that energy development won’t undermine the conservation of America’s significant wildlife habitat and treasured places. As part of this effort the President has protected more than 265 million acres of public lands and waters, more than any other president, designated Bristol Bay and other Alaskan waters off-limits to all future oil and gas leasing, and asked Congress to make the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a wilderness.
Agencies are also acting to preserve important wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and scenic vistas across the country through better planning and decision-making. For example, by pioneering a commonsense, community-driven approach known as Master Leasing Plans in places like Moab, Utah -- which is home to Arches National Park and a thriving outdoor recreation economy -- DOI is ensuring that energy development occurs in low-conflict areas, while lands with high scenic, recreational, and cultural value are preserved for future generations.
The President and the rest of the Administration will continue to look for opportunities to work with you and others who care deeply about our public lands and waters.
Thank you again for your petition, for your commitment to lead the fight against climate change, and for helping us work towards a clean energy economy. We have made a lot of progress, but we have more work to do together to meet the challenge and the opportunity.
--We the People Team