Keep It in the Ground
It’s time to keep fossil fuels where they belong: in the ground.
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to move away from coal, oil, and natural gas, and toward a renewable-energy future. The path to a sustainable future for people, ecosystems, and the climate cannot include fossil fuels.
Numerous studies definitively support this finding. To cite just one: a 2015 research paper in the journal Nature concluded that we need to leave at least 80% of the world’s known remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground to prevent runaway global warming. That includes more than 90% of U.S. coal reserves and all 100% of Arctic oil and gas.
We can start by taking action to protect U.S. public lands. In 2014 alone, the fossil-fueled electricity produced from drilling and mining on public lands burned 706 million barrels of oil, 3.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 421 million tons of coal, churning billions of tons of climate-warming and disease-causing pollution into the atmosphere. We demand an end to new mining and drilling in our public lands and other sensitive areas.
There’s a reason coal has been singled out in the fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Burning coal is one of the most egregious contributors to global warming, producing billions of tons of CO2 annually, and making us all sick by polluting our air and water with toxic substances, including mercury.
Despite this, the U.S. government has a long history of giving away our public land to coal companies, so much that today 40% of the coal mined in the U.S. legally belongs to us taxpayers.
350 Central Mass stands with millions of Americans who say this is a tragic mistake for the health of communities and our environment. And because coal-fired electricity generation has become so expensive relative to renewables, such as solar and wind, subsidizing coal serves as an unfair tax on all of us.
In 2016 a major overhaul of the federal coal program was a giant step forward toward keeping coal in the ground. This action included a moratorium on new coal leases on public land, a win-win for both the climate and all of us tax payers.
Unfortunately, in the ensuing years the Trump administration has reversed course, moving us backward toward increased mining and use of fossil fuels. If we have any chance at preventing even greater climate change, we must resist any further attempts to put coal – whose financially viability is becoming increasingly dubious – on life support.
No Offshore Drilling
Our public lands aren’t the only critical battleground in the fight to phase out fossil fuels. Offshore drilling for oil and natural gas is a growing threat to our health and climate.
Big oil companies have profited enormously from the exploitation of U.S. public land and water for decades, while leaving ordinary people, including disproportionate numbers of poor, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, to bear the incalculable costs of their industry to health and ecological damage. Their activities have not only devastated land and water, but they have also exacerbated climate chaos.
The industry’s greed only grows, fed by ever-more-damaging technologies capable of removing every last drop of oil and cubic foot of gas, and the ultra-wealthy owners continue to profit at the expense of the rest of us, wildlife, and the climate.
Consider the Arctic, for Example
Global warming is rapidly melting the sea ice, making the oil underneath Arctic waters more easily accessible than ever, and naturally corporations like Shell, ExxonMobil, and BP are eager to drill for it. The resulting sea-level rise, loss of food sources and winter ice, and pollution from drilling threaten the Indigenous people who have inhabited this area for thousands of years.
The melting ice is shrinking viable habitats of polar bears, wolves, migratory birds, and many other species that depend on a stable arctic climate for their existence. Yet the very companies largely responsible for climate change demand access to more oil, thus exacerbating the climate emergency.
For several decades, this delicate environment has been off-limits to fossil-fuel exploration. To emphasize the importance of preserving this ecosystem, in 2015 the Obama administration made it illegal to drill in the U.S. Arctic for two years.
Again, the Trump administration tragically reversed course by opening the entire coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. In addition, the most aggressive development option available has been selected for an area of great ecological diversity, long closed to drilling. Seventy percent of Americans oppose these actions.
Join the Movement to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground
As the alarming realities of climate change accelerate, the last thing we need is to burn more fossil fuels. From the North and South Poles, to the Gulf of Mexico and everywhere in between, our call is clear: keep it in the ground.
Let this be the genesis of revolution against fossil fuels. Join us!