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Groups to Obama: Keep It in the Ground; Cancel CO Oil, Gas Sale

Climate activists are protesting new drilling leases on more than 90,000 acres of public land in Colorado. Credit: Sierra Club
Climate activists are protesting new drilling leases on more than 90,000 acres of public land in Colorado. Credit: Sierra Club
November 12, 2015

DENVER – Organizers are expecting a hundred people from some 17 organizations at this morning's Keep It in the Ground rally outside the Bureau of Land Management's offices in Lakewood just outside of Denver.

Ruth Breech, senior climate and energy campaigner with the Rainforest Action Network, is protesting the Bureau's plan to lease drilling rights to companies such as Exxon Mobil and BP on more than 90,000 acres of public land in Colorado.

She says if those oil and gas deposits are extracted and burned, it would release more than a million tons of climate pollution.

"And we as American people are giving our lands away to these huge corporate entities that are making private profits off of our public lands,” she states. “And they're damaging our climate and they're damaging our future. And we're saying enough is enough."

Breech says recent leases of public land in Wyoming went for as low as $2 an acre, well below market value.

The Lakewood rally is part of a national movement calling on President Barack Obama to stop new fossil-fuel leases.

Breech points to a recent study showing the move could keep up to 450 billion tons of carbon pollution in the ground.

Micah Parkin, executive director of the advocacy group 350 Colorado, says the federal government already has leased more fossil fuels than scientists agree can be safely burned.

She notes every new lease makes keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius more difficult, and is in direct contradiction with the president's pledge to attack the climate crisis head-on.

"We have to make a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy,” she stresses. “This isn't something we can continue to delay another 10 years. We have to start making some really tough choices right now.

“We need to begin to leave a lot of the fossil fuels in the ground. We cannot afford to burn them all."

In September, a coalition of more than 400 organizations signed a letter urging Obama to issue an executive order to end the federal fossil fuel leasing program.

Protests also are planned for upcoming lease sales in Reno, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO