Chair Grijalva, Committee Members Introduce Bill to Align Public Lands and Waters with Biden Climate Targets, Announce Hearing Next Week
Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and other members of the Committee today introduced the Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act to direct the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to manage America’s public lands and oceans in accordance with the Biden administration’s ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals.
The bill prohibits new federal fossil fuel leasing and permitting until DOI and the USFS demonstrate that lifecycle emissions from additional oil, gas, and coal development are consistent with the Biden administration’s 2030, 2035, and 2050 climate change targets. The bill also requires DOI and USFS to develop, publish, implement, and regularly update a comprehensive strategy to guide the agencies’ efforts to reduce GHG emissions and to keep the public informed of the progress.
Original cosponsors of the Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act are Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee Chair Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.).
The climate crisis is an existential threat to the American economy and national security, the health and well-being of all people, wildlife, our lands and oceans, and future generations. To prevent the worst impacts of climate change from occurring, the U.S. must achieve the emissions reduction targets established by the Biden administration and supported by top climate scientists, including:
- Reduce net U.S. GHG emissions by 50-52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030;
- Achieve 100 percent carbon-free U.S. electricity by 2035; and
- Achieve net-zero emissions across the entire U.S. economy by 2050.
The 2050 net-zero goal is based on multiple Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, which find that limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius requires the world to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and net-zero emissions of all GHGs roughly a decade after that. Despite these aggressive, science-based targets, DOI and the USFS have not yet begun to develop a strategy to phase out oil, gas, and coal leasing and production on America’s public lands and waters.
Together, Congress and the Biden administration have achieved major policy victories and made historic investments in clean energy, conservation, and environmental justice communities, chiefly through the enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant climate legislation in history. But the management of our public lands and waters is outdated and DOI and USFS have a responsibility to demonstrate whether fossil fuel development on U.S. public lands and waters is compromising the country’s climate goals.
Details of the Bill
The Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act will ensure U.S. public lands and oceans are part of the whole-of-government approach to solving the climate crisis and achieving our emissions reduction targets, not undermining these efforts as an unchecked source of fossil fuel pollution.
Major provisions of the bill include:
- Limit on New Leasing and Permitting: No new fossil fuel leasing or permitting until DOI and USFS demonstrate lifecycle GHG emissions from new leasing and permitting is consistent with the Biden administration’s 2030, 2035, and 2050 climate targets.
- Emissions Reduction Strategy: Every three years, DOI and the USFS must develop an emissions reduction strategy for public lands and waters with significant involvement from stakeholders, including environmental justice communities. New fossil fuel leasing and permitting may only occur if a final strategy demonstrates that emissions from new activities is consistent with the Biden administration’s climate targets.
- Climate Test Screening Tool: The Secretary must develop and administer a climate screening tool to analyze whether the lifecycle emissions of individual agency actions are consistent with the most recently published emissions reduction strategy and the Biden administration’s climate targets.
- Online Publication of GHG Emissions: Requires the online publication of information regarding GHG emissions and avoided GHG emissions from public lands and waters.
- Accounting for Carbon Pollution in Fiscal Terms: The Secretary must reform fossil fuel fiscal terms to account for the damages to the climate resulting from oil, gas, and coal extraction from public lands and waters.
Upcoming Legislative Hearing
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on the Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act. More information on the hearing, including witnesses, will be announced by the end of the week.
Endorsements and Statements of Support
The bill is endorsed by The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, The Wilderness Society, Oceana, and the National Parks Conservation Association.
“LCV commends the leadership of Chair Raúl Grijalva for introducing the Public Lands and Waters Climate Leadership Act of 2022. Just weeks after President Biden and Congress delivered the strongest climate legislation in history, we’re thrilled to see this legislation with a path that upholds President Biden’s commitments to stop future fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters and ensure prioritization of nature-based solutions to combat the climate crisis, including implementing a climate test screening policy for all future leasing and drilling decisions. We urge the Biden administration to move swiftly to align climate goals with future fossil fuel leasing and development, including rejecting the Willow project in America’s Arctic. We must build on recent climate legislation by transitioning away from fossil fuels to a reliable, affordable, renewable energy future.” – Leah Donahey, Federal Advocacy Campaigns Director, League of Conservation Voters
“This long overdue legislation would ensure that emissions from new fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters are taken into account and that those projects will not prevent us from meeting our climate goals. It will help make our public lands and waters part of the solution to the climate crisis, not the problem.” – Alexandra Adams, Senior Director of Federal Affairs, Natural Resources Defense Council
“Public lands alone are a source of nearly one-quarter of all U.S. carbon emissions, and right now, the federal leasing programs for our public lands and waters do not line up with President Biden’s national climate pollution targets, the goals of the Paris Agreement, or extensive climate science. Harnessing the potential of our public lands and waters to mitigate climate impacts requires a whole-of-government approach as well as extensive, repeated engagement with diverse stakeholder groups and experts. We strongly support Chairman’s Grijalva’s legislation to better ensure that management of our public lands and waters adequately accounts for climate impacts, while also creating new opportunities for expert and community engagement.” – Sara Cawley, Senior Legislative Representative, Earthjustice
“The era of public lands serving fossil fuel interests, driving climate change, polluting our communities and threatening wildlife must come to an end. Management of public lands and waters must align with the president’s climate goals, engage and elevate the voices of people on the frontlines of climate change, and advance a just transition. This bill is a step in that direction and we applaud Chairman Grijalva and his colleagues for introducing this legislation.” – Justin Meuse, Senior Government Relations Representative, The Wilderness Society.
“Climate change is the challenge of our lifetime and developing more offshore oil and gas will exacerbate the worst effects of climate change. Rising sea levels, wildfires, extreme heat, and worsening storms are weaking havoc on our economy and communities across this nation, right now. The oil and gas industry is raking in record profits while everyday people suffer the consequences. That’s not fair and this bill will help rebalance the scales by prioritizing the protection of ocean ecosystems, cutting dangerous carbon pollution, and ensuring polluters pay.” – Diane Hoskins, Climate and Energy Campaign Director, Oceana
Media Contact: Lindsay Gressard
202-225-6065 | cell: 202-740-4715
Next Article Previous Article