Protect Public Lands and Waters from Fossil-Fuel Development

Our treasured public lands and waters are a public trust, set aside for all Americans to be used in a way that best reflects our common values and shared goals.

To safeguard our children and future generations from dangerous climate change, we must, as a nation, move away from dirty fossil fuels—coal, oil, gas, tar sands, and oil shale—and shift to smarter, cleaner ways to power our future without imperiling the planet. That’s why NRDC is calling on President Obama to end all new leasing of federal fossil fuels both on- and offshore.

NRDC is pushing to ensure that the president’s moratorium on coal leasing on public lands becomes a permanent ban. We need to end destructive coal mining in order to protect communities and help accelerate the transition to clean energy. 

AP Photo/Casper Star-Tribune, Ryan Dorgan

We are also calling for phasing out all other fossil-fuel development on public lands. Doing so will help protect natural treasures like Utah’s Desolation Canyon and New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon National Historic Park—as well as nearby communities and drinking-water sources—from the threats of oil and gas development, including fracking.

And NRDC believes that we should withdraw, permanently, the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from new oil and gas exploration and drilling. Neither the wildest places on the planet—like the Arctic Ocean—nor America’s oceanfront communities should be put at risk to lethal blowouts like the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, new leasing for oil and gas development in the Gulf should also be stopped.

Today, energy companies are leasing enormous tracts of public land for coal mining and oil and gas drilling, and they’re pushing for substantial expansion in our oceans as well. These lands and waters provide vital habitat for countless species as well as clean drinking water, clean air, food, unparalleled recreational opportunities, and economic vitality for millions of Americans.

NRDC believes the time has come for change, and we’re helping to lead the fight.

Our public lands and oceans must be managed in a new way—not anchoring our energy future to fossil fuels of the past but instead shielding our communities from environmental disaster, propelling clean energy forward, and helping avoid climate chaos. 

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