Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory: February 12, 2016

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 in Salt Lake City to Target BLM's Oil, Gas Auction

SALT LAKE CITY— Dozens of climate activists will protest Tuesday morning outside the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas lease sale at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City. Activists will rally with signs, banners and theatrical bidding paddles, demanding an immediate end to fossil fuel development. The BLM’s “climate auction,” as protesters have dubbed it, will allow industry to bid on more than 45,000 acres of publicly owned oil and gas leases in Utah — which harbor an estimated 1.87 million tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution.

The rally will be led by the group “Elders Rising,” which is calling on the BLM to act to prevent catastrophic climate change and ensure a livable future for generations to come. The protest is part of a rapidly growing national movement calling on President Obama to define his climate legacy by halting 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 are planned for upcoming lease sales in Nevada, Wisconsin and New Orleans, and have previously taken place in Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada. In the past four months, protested lease sales have been postponed in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Washington, D.C. In November, when the BLM made a last-minute decision to halt the oil and gas lease sale in Salt Lake City owing to the “high level of public interest,” activists held a victory rally outside the BLM office.

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

When: 8 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Where: Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101.

Who: Local activists from participating groups including 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 and WildEarth Guardians and others.

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

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, and 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 canceled oil and gas leasing auctions in Utah, Montana, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.

View maps of 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 here.

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.

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