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Local Residents, Demonstrators Draw 60-foot Red Line on Climate Change
Vaughn Lovejoy, Elders Rising, (801)
SALT LAKE CITY— More than 100 climate activists carrying signs, banners and theatrical bidders’ paddles rallied today at a Bureau of Land Management’s fossil fuel auction at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, urging President Obama to “Keep It in the Ground.” The BLM’s “climate auction,” as protesters dubbed it, allowed industry to bid on more than 45,000 acres of publicly owned oil and gas in Utah — which harbor an estimated 1.87 million tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.
Demonstrators waved mock auction bidder paddles adorned with photos of children to indicate the need to act now to prevent the most extreme effects of climate change on future generations. Activists also unfurled a 60-foot banner reading “Keep It in the Ground,” a tribute to the 100-meter-long “Red-Line Action” banner used at the Paris climate talks to signify the line of temperature and carbon emissions that cannot be crossed to avoid catastrophic climate disruption.
The rally is part of a rapidly growing national movement calling on President Obama to define his climate legacy by halting new federal fossil fuel auctions on public lands and oceans — a step that would keep up to 450 billion tons of carbon pollution from escaping into the atmosphere. Similar “Keep It in the Ground” protests are planned for upcoming lease sales in Nevada, Wisconsin and New Orleans, and have already taken place in Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada.
In the past four months, protested lease sales have been postponed in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.
Groups participating in today’s rally included Elders Rising, Canyon Country Rising Tide, Center for Biological Diversity, First UU Environmental Ministry, Great Old Broads For Wilderness, Green Riverkeeper Affiliate & Living Rivers, Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, Science & Environmental Health Network, Women's Congress for Future Generations, Sierra Club, Utah Moms for Clean Air, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Utahns for Bernie Sanders, WildEarth Guardians and others.
Statements From Individuals and Groups
Vaugh Lovejoy, Elders Rising:
“As one of the founding members of Elders Rising it is my deepest prayer that those of us who came to age in the ’60s will now reawaken to our youthful hopes and visions to create a just world fueled by the living flames of compassion and love and an empowered vision of beauty. Now our children and grandchildren desperately need for us to fulfill this — our generation’s calling and destiny.”
Kaitlin Butler, Science & Environmental Health Network, Women's Congress for Future Generations:
“When we become fully present to what is happening in the world, we see that the decisions we make today will impact those living far in the future. Climate change is the predominant issue of our time but the Federal Oil and Gas Public Lands Leasing program doesn't consider climate impacts. In Utah, the Bureau of Land Management and other state agencies have effectively denied climate change is even happening. This is a misuse of science that fails to ensure clean air, unpolluted waters, biodiversity, human health — a habitable Earth. But people can do something huge and now to demand a different legacy. And they are! More and more communities are coming together to defend the universal right to a clean and healthy environment now and for future generations.”
Ty Markham, Chair of the Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance (MESA):
“Latter Day Saints in Utah have many concerns about the continual degrading of our air, water and soil brought about by the mining, processing and burning of fossil fuels. At a time when our national leaders recognize these dangers to our environment and our planet, it is unconscionable and immoral to continue the practice of leasing out our public lands for the benefit of private corporate profits. We believe these natural resources should be left in the ground, and a clean energy future be pursued by our elected leaders. For this reason we join with other ‘Elders Rising’ to stand up for the preservation and protection of our public lands, as an important means to ensuring that our children and grandchildren can thrive in a healthy and beautiful world.”
Valerie Love, Clean Energy Campaigner at the Center
for Biological Diversity:
Tim Ream, Climate and Energy Campaign Director
for WildEarth Guardians:
Some 67 million acres of U.S. public lands are already leased to dirty fossil fuel industries, an area 55 times larger than Grand Canyon National Park containing up to 43 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. Nearly one quarter of all U.S. climate pollution already comes from burning fossil fuels from public lands. Remaining federal oil, gas, coal, oil shale and tar sands that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion additional tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.
In September more than 400 organizations called on President Obama to end federal fossil fuel leasing. In November Senators Merkley (D-Ore.), Sanders (D-Vt.) and others introduced legislation to end new federal fossil fuel leases and cancel non-producing federal fossil fuel leases. Last month the Obama administration placed a moratorium on federal coal leasing while the Department of the Interior studies its impacts on taxpayers and the planet. Since November, in response to protests, the BLM has postponed oil and gas leasing auctions in Utah, Montana, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.
See this map for planned February 2016 lease sales in Utah and nearby states.
Download the September “Keep It in the Ground” letter to President Obama.
Download Grounded: The President’s Power to Fight Climate Change, Protect Public Lands by Keeping Publicly Owned Fossil Fuels in the Ground (this report details the legal authorities with which a president can halt new federal fossil fuel leases).
Download The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels (this report quantifies the volume and potential greenhouse gas emissions of remaining federal fossil fuels).
Download The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions fact sheet.
Download Public Lands, Private Profits (this report details the corporations profiting from climate-destroying fossil fuel extraction on public lands).
Download WildEarth Guardians administrative protest of the February 2016 Utah Oil and Gas Lease Sale.
Download WildEarth Guardians’ formal petition calling on the
Department of the Interior to study for the first time ever the climate impacts
of the federal oil and gas leasing program and to place a moratorium on new
leasing until completed that study is completed.