Representatives introduce important bill to address carbon emissions from public lands

Credit: staticantics, flickr

Thursday, February 11, 2016, members of the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Jared Huffman of California, introduced a bill, Keep It in the Ground Act, aimed at addressing carbon emissions from our public lands.

By Joshua Mantell

This bill is similar to one introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon in late 2015. The Wilderness Society is happy to see Congress acknowledge the problems associated with fossil fuel development on public lands and tackle these issues head-on.

Fossil fuel development on our public lands is a significant contributor to climate change. One Wilderness Society report from 2015, estimated that public lands are responsible for more than one-fifth of all greenhouse gases in the United States. Fortunately, this administration has taken great strides towards modernizing energy development on federal lands and leading us toward a cleaner energy future.

The steps taken by this administration include:

  •  Increasing renewable energy development, in the right places, to power our nation;
  • Commencing a long overdue and comprehensive review of the federal coal program and instituting a pause on new coal leases until the review is complete;
  •  Putting guidelines in place to stop the waste of natural gas, which has the benefit of reducing methane pollution that contributes to climate change;
  •   Starting to track carbon emissions from federal lands. No administration has ever measured the carbon that comes from federal land extractions, and this administration is moving to do that and make the public aware of what public lands contribute to climate change.

Our public lands need to become a climate solution, instead of a climate problem. Members of Congress and the administration moving forward with that in mind will ensure that we are moving in the right direction and taking a 21st century approach to energy development on public lands.