Press Release Jan 27, 2021

National Parks Will Benefit from Biden Administration’s Public Lands Oil and Gas Moratorium

Executive order will stop the reckless four-year fire sale of public lands to polluters that damage parks and drive climate change.

Washington D.C. – President Biden today issued an executive order that protects public lands by temporarily pausing leases, including nearby national parks, to oil and gas corporations. For the last four years, we’ve watched a disastrous energy program and its destructive impacts to our public lands, national parks and waters across the western United States. This pause will result in less pollution for parks and nearby communities that are hit the hardest.

The executive order ends the Trump administration’s reckless energy agenda which saw over 26 million acres of federal public land offered to oil and gas corporations for drilling since 2016, some for as little as $2 per acre. This careless leasing has failed to mitigate greenhouse gas pollution, further threatening the cultural significance of landscapes and the concerns of local communities and tribes.

In addition to the leasing pause, the White House is committing the nation to a ten-year goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030. Our national parks and waterways are on the forefront of the climate crisis with plant and animal species on the brink of extinction, and lakes and rivers drying up. These additional land protections are needed for our parks to thrive and combat these climate threats.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association:

“President Biden’s pause on selling off our public lands to the oil industry, along with the bold goal to protect our air, lands and waters, are necessary steps to help our parks recover and build them back stronger.

“The Executive Orders get us one important step closer to better protecting our parks and public lands, cutting greenhouse gas pollution, and helping transition to clean energy in a just and equitable manner. These actions will help combat the climate crisis and provide a safer future for local communities and our national parks.

“Public lands that were offered to the oil and gas industry were near national parks such as Canyonlands, Rocky Mountain and Arches as well as sacred ancestral lands across the west. Oil and gas development in these important areas has exacerbated climate change, polluted nearby air and water and damaged park ecosystems.”

Key numbers:

  • More than 26 million acres of federal land was offered to oil and gas corporations since 2016 – a combined area larger than the entire state of Kentucky.
  • More than six million acres were leased by oil and gas corporations since 2016 – a combined area more than 15x the size of Houston, TX.
  • The majority of the leases were in Alaska and western states, such as Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico.
  • The national park sites most affected by oil and gas leasing and drilling on public lands include Canyonlands (UT), Arches (UT), Capitol Reef (UT), Carlsbad Caverns (NM), Yellowstone (WY), Grand Teton (WY) and Rocky Mountain (CO), as well as Dinosaur National Monument (CO) and Chaco Culture National Historical Park (NM).
  • A detailed map of the locations of all the leases sold during the Trump administration and their proximity to national parks can be found here.

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

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