Since taking office, President Barack Obama and his administration have taken unprecedented action to address the threat of climate change. Through policies to improve energy efficiency, increase vehicle emissions standards, encourage renewable energy production, and reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants, the administration has made remarkable progress toward meeting the president’s new goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, or GHGs, by 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, as part of an agreement with China. However, even with these remarkable actions, there is still a blind spot in U.S. efforts to address climate change.
Today, taxpayer-owned gas, oil, and coal extracted from federal lands and waters by private companies are one of the nation’s most significant sources of GHG emissions, accounting for more than one-fifth of all U.S. GHG emissions. The U.S. Department of the Interior, or DOI, which has jurisdiction over the nation’s public lands, has no comprehensive plan to measure, monitor, and reduce the total volume of GHG emissions that result from the leasing and development of federal energy resources.