Rep. Huffman Introduces “Keep it in the Ground Act”

February 11, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael)  today introduced the ‘Keep it in the Ground Act’,  legislation that would reduce carbon emissions and our nation’s addiction to fossil fuels by permanently barring new fossil fuel leases on all federal public lands and in federal waters.


“Our nation’s capacity to transition towards clean energy sources is expanding at a record pace,” said Huffman. “However, there is still much to be done to break our unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels. Our oceans and our public lands-including the fossil fuel deposits beneath them- belong to the American people, not to the oil and gas industry, and it’s time that the law reflects that fact. There is an urgent need to keep fossil fuels in the ground if we want to protect the planet for future generations. The ‘Keep It in the Ground Act’ represents a crucial step that the federal government can take to protect the public, prevent carbon emissions, and fight climate change.”


"Anyone who does the math of climate change knows we need to keep most fossil fuel underground. Public lands--as the Democratic presidential candidates have pointed out--are the logical place to start, and this is even more obvious in the wake of the Supreme Court stay on the president's Clean Power Plan,” said co-founder, Bill McKibben. “In a record hot world, let's hope Congress acts on this at record speed; we will do all we can to make it happen."


"Thanks to Representative Huffman’s leadership, we have a concrete plan to help meet the climate goals set in Paris and accelerate our transition onto clean, renewable energy," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "We should seize this opportunity, and lead the world in the fight against climate disruption by keeping dirty fuels where they belong -- in the ground."


“Dependence on fossil fuels is as dated as the technology itself -- we have the ability to move past dirty energy sources that are destroying our planet. The ‘Keep it in the Ground Act’ recognizes it is imperative we combat climate change and protect the lands and waters that belong to us all. Federal lands are adjacent to numerous indigenous communities,’ said Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director, Honor the Earth. “From the Arctic to the Gulf, America's original peoples are already disparately affected by extractive industries -- loss of homelands under rising seas, at-risk cultural practices, contaminated drinking water, skyrocketing rates of cancer -- we must end the era of fossil fuel dependence and fight for the seventh generation.”


Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale and tar sands on all Federal lands.
  • Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for offshore drilling in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico.
  • Prohibit offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic.


The legislation is cosponsored by Ted Lieu (CA-33),  Mike Honda (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Bill Keating (MA-09),  Hank Johnson (GA-04),  Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC),  Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Donna Edwards (MD-04), Alan Grayson (FL-09),  Jim McDermott (WA-07),  Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Chris Van Hollen (MD-08), Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11),  Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03)


The Senate version of the “Keep it in the Ground Act” was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on November 4, 2015.