Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 27, 2021


Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,
Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 845-6703,

Biden Administration Halts Oil and Gas Leasing of Federal Lands, Oceans

Order Will Reduce Pollution, Harm to Habitats, Climate-damaging Emissions

WASHINGTON— President Joe Biden will issue an executive order today suspending new oil and gas leasing of federal lands and waters. The order is a first step toward fulfilling a Biden campaign pledge and a request made last month by the Center for Biological Diversity and almost 600 other organizations for an end to leasing and permitting for oil and gas extraction on public lands and oceans.

“We’re thrilled President Biden is quickly honoring his pledge to stop new fossil fuel leasing of our federal lands and waters,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center for Biological Diversity’s executive director. “The climate and wildlife extinction crises demand this kind of bold, urgent action. The fossil fuel industry has inflicted tremendous damage on the planet, and the administration’s review, if done correctly, will show that filthy fracking and drilling must end for good, everywhere.”

The president’s executive order targets oil and gas leasing on public land and offshore waters. Following these reviews, the president can make these leasing pauses long term or permanent.

“This is a critical first step to protecting our spectacular public lands, wildlife and our climate from the fossil fuel industry’s relentless plunder and pillage,” said Randi Spivak, director of the Center’s public lands program. “The Biden administration understands that we can’t keep fracking and drilling if we’re to have any chance of leaving a livable planet to the next generation. We must keep fossil fuels in the ground and work together toward a rapid and just transition to a clean energy future.”

“Ending dirty and dangerous offshore drilling in this country is long overdue. Coastal communities, marine wildlife and our climate will greatly benefit from President Biden’s moratorium on oil leasing,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center. “Next we need this administration to stop issuing offshore drilling permits that are poisoning our oceans and to move swiftly to ensure secure livelihoods for families harmed by oil dependence.”


Fossil fuel production on public lands causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Peer-reviewed science estimates that a nationwide federal fossil fuel leasing ban would reduce carbon emissions by 280 million tons per year, ranking it among the most ambitious federal climate-policy proposals in recent years.

Oil, gas and coal extraction includes mines, well pads, gas lines, roads and other infrastructure that destroy habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Oil spills and other harms from offshore drilling have done immense damage to ocean wildlife and coastal communities. Fracking and mining also pollute watersheds and waterways that provide drinking water for millions of people.

Federal fossil fuels that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential climate pollution; those already leased to industry contain up to 43 billion tons. Pollution from already-leased fossil fuels on federal lands, if fully developed, would exhaust the U.S. carbon budget for keeping the world below a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature increase.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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