Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, November 16, 2015

Contacts:  Vaughn Lovejoy, Elders Rising, (801) 598-2344
Lauren Wood, Canyon Country Rising Tide, (801) 647-1540
Valerie Love, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 274-9713
Ruth Breech, Rainforest Action Network, (415) 238-1766
Tim Ream, WildEarth Guardians, (541) 531-8541

'Keep It in the Ground' Rally to Target BLM's Oil, Gas Auction in Utah

Elders, Climate Activists to Protest in Salt Lake City Over Lease Sale That Would
Add Up to 6 Million Tons of Carbon Pollution to Atmosphere

SALT LAKE CITY— Dozens of elders and climate activists will protest Tuesday morning at the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas lease sale in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The rally will take place outside the auction room. Activists will display theatrical bidding paddles and demand an immediate end to fossil fuel development. The BLM on Friday, however, threatened to close the auction to the public. The BLM’s “climate auction,” as protesters have dubbed it, will allow industry to bid on more than 73,000 acres of publicly owned oil and gas rights in Utah — which harbor an estimated 1.6 – 6.6 million tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.

The rally will be led by elders calling on the BLM to act to prevent catastrophic climate change and ensure a livable future for younger and future generations. The protest is part of a rapidly growing national movement calling on President Obama to define his climate legacy by stopping new federal fossil fuel leases 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 were held in Colorado and Wyoming in recent weeks and more are planned for upcoming lease sales in Reno, Nev., and Washington, D.C.

What: "Keep It in the Ground" rally at BLM oil and gas leasing auction

When: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 8:30 a.m.

Where: Bureau of Land Management, 440 W 200 S, Salt Lake City

Who: Elders Rising for Intergenerational Justice, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, Women’s Congress for Future Generations,, Rainforest Action Network

Media availability: Activists will be available for interviews before and after the protest.

The American public owns nearly 650 million acres of federal public land and more than 1.7 billion acres of Outer Continental Shelf — and the fossil fuels beneath them. This includes federal public lands like national parks, national forests and wildlife refuges that make up about a third of the U.S. land area — and oceans like Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard. These places and fossil fuels are held in trust for the public by the federal government; federal fossil fuel leasing is administered by the Department of the Interior.

Over the past decade, the combustion of federal fossil fuels has resulted in nearly a quarter of all U.S. energy-related emissions. An August report by EcoShift consulting, commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, found that remaining federal oil, gas, coal, oil shale and tar sands that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. As of earlier this year, 67 million acres of federal fossil fuel were already leased to industry — an area more than 55 times larger than Grand Canyon National Park containing up to 43 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.

More than 400 organizations and leaders in September called on President Obama to end federal fossil fuel leasing. They included: Bill McKibben, Winona LaDuke, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Dr. Noam Chomsky, Dr. Michael Mann, Tim DeChristopher, Dr. Stuart Pimm, Dr. Michael Soule, United Auto Workers Union, Unitarian Universalist Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Protect Our Winters,, the Center for Biological Diversity, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, REDOIL, Sierra Club, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Waterkeeper Alliance, WildEarth Guardians and hundreds of others.

Earlier this month 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. Days later President Obama cancelled the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, saying “Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”

Download the September “Keep It in the Ground” letter to Obama here.

Download Grounded: The President’s Power to Fight Climate Change, Protect Public Lands by Keeping Publicly Owned Fossil Fuels in the Ground here (this report by the Center for Biological Diversity 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 here (this report by EcoShift Consulting, commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, quantifies the volume and potential greenhouse gas emissions of remaining federal fossil fuels).

Download The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions fact sheet here.

Download Public Lands, Private Profits here (this report details the corporations profiting from climate-destroying fossil fuel extraction on public lands).

Download WildEarth Guardians administrative protest of the November Utah Oil and Gas Lease Sale here.

Download WildEarth Guardians analysis of the climate impacts of the November UT, CO, and WY lease sales here.

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