Menendez, Senators Push Back on Trump Reopening of Coal Leasing on Public Lands, Oil Drilling in Federal Waters

Menendez, Senators Push Back on Trump Reopening of Coal Leasing on Public Lands, Oil Drilling in Federal Waters

Will re-introduce Keep it in the Ground Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to announce they will re-introduce the Keep It in the Ground Act in response to President Trump’s Executive Order lifting the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s moratorium on federal coal leasing.

“It’s time to tell the Trump Administration loud and clear that our public lands should be just that—public assets that are part of our national heritage,” said Sen. Menendez. “We must do everything in our power to stand up to the oil industry, protect our coastal and inland communities, and fight for the people from the Jersey Shore to Alaska’s arctic refuge whose lives and livelihoods are tied to the vitality of the local environment.”

“Climate change caused by burning fossil fuels is causing great destruction to our rural resources: our fishing, our forests, and our farming,” said Sen. Merkley. “The damage is accelerating, making it an economic and moral imperative that we quickly transform our energy economy from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy. In that context, it would be a monumental mistake for the U.S. to keep issuing new leases for the extraction and combustion of our citizen-owned gas, coal, and oil. Not only would such leases directly magnify the destruction, but they would also undermine the international leadership of the United States in addressing this threat to our planet.”

“President Trump’s action to roll back the moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands, as well as his other disastrous environmental policies, is a threat to the wellbeing of our country and the entire planet,” said Sen. Sanders. “At a time when we are already seeing devastating harm in the United States and around the world as a result of climate change, scientists tell us that we must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground. Mr. Trump, you cannot run a government by rejecting science. Listen to the scientific community, not the CEOs of the fossil fuel industry. Our job is to save the planet, not to make more profits for the oil, gas and coal and industries.”

“Our bill ensures that American leadership in fighting climate change will continue, our work to promote the clean energy revolution will continue, and Americans and our public lands will be safer in the process,” said Sen. Schatz.

“Our federal lands belong to us all – not just Big Oil and Big Coal executives willing to defraud the American people about climate change just so they can extract every last drop of profit out of the ground,” said Sen. Warren. “This bill is about fighting for our families, when President Trump seems more focused on industry profits. It’s about doubling down on 21st Century clean energy jobs, empowering the ingenuity of American builders, and letting our coastal communities, our farmers, and our children know that we will fight for their future.”

“Today the greatest threat to our planet, to our way of life, and to future generations is climate change,” said Sen. Leahy. “As a nation we must act before it is too late by taking ambitious and commonsense steps to deal with climate change, and that includes stopping new fossil fuel leases on our public lands.  When you’re in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. Doing that will help ensure that we manage the public’s lands for the public good, and not merely for the enormous corporate profits that would be gained by further fueling this global crisis.”

“If we are serious about combatting climate change, we must reduce the amount of fossil fuels we are extracting and burning,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “The ‘Keep it in the Ground’ Act would do just that by stopping new leases and ending non-producing leases for offshore drilling in federal waters and coal, oil, gas, oil shale, and tar sands extraction on federal lands. I urge my colleagues to stand against President Trump’s executive order and support this legislation to protect our communities and our environment from the devastating effects of climate change.”

 Specifically, the Keep It in the Ground Act would:

  • Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for offshore drilling in federal waters. 
  • Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale and tar sands extraction on federal lands.