January 13, 2016

Obama Sets Up Fight Over Fossil Fuels on Public Lands During State of the Union

Washington, DC — In his final State of the Union, President Obama made the case for clean, renewable energy, and pledged to change the way the US manages fossil fuel development on public lands, a key priority for climate activists.

“We welcome President Obama’s full throated endorsement of clean energy and his pledge to take a close look at how we can get off fossil fuels. The President’s top priority during his last year in office needs to be keeping that coal, oil and gas in the ground,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “The issue of fossil fuel extraction on public lands is going to be a key fight over the coming months. Our government needs to get out of the business of climate destruction.”

The President’s remarks focused on the need to transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean, renewable energy.

“Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy,” said the President. “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.”

In the coming months, the Obama Administration will release a new five year plan for oil and gas development in the Atlantic, Arctic, and Gulf coasts. 350.org and other climate organizations have launched a campaign to stop new fossil fuel development on public lands, using the “keep it in the ground” banner to link together fights against fracking, coal development, offshore drilling, and more.

The President’s message of cutting fossil fuel subsidies and investing in clean energy also fits well with 350.org and others’ campaign to get institutions to divest from coal, oil and gas and reinvest in just, sustainable alternatives.

“Thanks to the work of millions of people around the world, the climate movement has opened up new political space to address this crisis,” said Boeve. “We’re ready to intensify the fight against the fossil fuel industry and we’ll be looking for the President to do the same.”