Congresswomen Tlaib, Jayapal Lead 27 Members in Letter to Biden Administration Urging Climate Leadership, No New Fossil Fuel Leases

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, sent a letter signed by 25 of their House colleagues urging President Biden and Interior Secretary Haaland to fulfill its visionary climate agenda by canceling the onshore fossil fuel leases offered and sold in June, issuing a final five-year offshore plan with no new leases, banning new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters, and beginning the process of phasing out oil and gas production on federal land and waters.

Fossil fuel production on public lands is responsible for roughly a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The President has authority under existing laws to prohibit new federal fossil fuel leasing and cancel existing leases. In order to uphold America’s international climate commitments to hold warming under 1.5 degrees and avoid the worst impacts of global climate change, it is necessary to end new investment in fossil fuel projects and phase out fossil fuel production.

“New fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters is incompatible with meeting international commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” the lawmakers wrote. “While the oil and gas industry is cynically exploiting the crisis in Ukraine to demand even more access to public lands, turning even more lands over for drilling will not offer relief at the pump or aid to the people of Ukraine and other countries caught in conflicts tied to fossil fuels.”

Record oil and gas extraction over the last decade has done nothing to lower, or even stabilize, gas prices at the pump. The only way to guarantee a reliable, affordable energy supply insulated from global price shocks is a full transition to renewable energy.

“Big Oil is price-gouging the public and then using its profiteering as an excuse to worsen the climate emergency with new federal fossil fuel leasing,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re grateful to Reps. Tlaib and Jayapal, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, for standing with the American public and urging the President to stop auctioning off our public lands and water to fossil fuel executives.”

The lawmakers praised President Biden’s commitments to fighting climate change and urged his Administration to follow the science and uphold environmental justice. “The climate science is clear and uncompromising,” the lawmakers added. “You and your administration have the authority and a clear pathway to address the quarter of U.S. climate emissions that come from fossil fuel extraction on public lands.”

“In the face of intensifying climate change and the extremist Supreme Court’s ongoing campaign to hand the country over to corporate polluters, we need immediate, decisive, and aggressive climate leadership from the White House,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “President Biden and Secretary Haaland still have the tools to uphold their commitments to monumental climate action, and that can start right now with banning new fossil fuel leasing, invalidating recent sales, canceling upcoming sales, and issuing a five-year plan with no new offshore leases. Nothing less than a livable planet is on the line, and now is the time to deliver on our promises.”

“We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels when our planet is already experiencing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, from wildfires to hurricanes and floods. Our marginalized communities will continue to pay the heaviest price for our inaction,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “Today, we urge President Biden and Secretary Haaland to uphold their commitment to bold, transformative action and ban new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters, cancel any upcoming onshore lease sales, and finally begin the process of phasing out these polluting sources of energy for clean energy.”

The letter was co-signed by Congressmembers Barragán, Bass, Blunt Rochester, Bowman, Bush, Espaillat, García, Gomez, Huffman, Jackson Lee, Jones, Lee (CA), Levin (MI), Maloney, McGovern, Nadler, Newman, Norton, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, Raskin, Schakowsky, Takano, and Velázquez.

The letter was supported by numerous organizations, including Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Zero Hour, Indigenous Environmental Network, Build Back Fossil Free Coalition, People vs. Fossil Fuels, Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, and the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition.

“The oil and gas industry has already extracted so much profit from the Gulf South while leaving us with pollution that hasn’t been cleaned up,” said Colette Pichon Battle, Vision & Initiatives Partner of Taproot Earth. “At the beginning of this year, the industry had more than 9,000 unused permits to drill on public lands. They already have so much. The people in the Gulf South want a future built around justly sourced renewable energy.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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