European Trade Document Reveals Threat to Wildlife Habitat and Climate

A leaked trade document from the European Union was published yesterday by the Washington Post, revealing how the EU is pressuring the United States to lift its ban on crude oil exports to allow them access to our oil and gas. In the leaked documents about a proposed trade deal (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership –TTIP), the EU expressed it is seeking a legally binding rule which, if approved by the United States, would require the U.S. to approve all crude oil and natural gas exports to the EU with no review process. This could dramatically increase our oil exports, possibly trigger more development, and severely undermine efforts to combat climate change and protect our lands.

Mule deer
Throughout the West, reservoirs of oil and gas overlie important mule deer habitats. Flickr photo by Alan Vernon.
This pre-approval of oil and gas exports would overturn a decades-old ban we currently have in place against exporting our crude oil, and would bypass DOE’s current obligation to review the impacts of liquefied natural gas exports before they approve them. While oil companies and some European states would benefit from this greed-induced provision in the trade deal, it is the American people who would see their natural places destroyed and feel the impacts of climate change on their communities. Lifting the band would drive U.S. oil industry to produce more oil, further exploiting our natural places and driving climate pollution while putting cash in the pockets of big fossil fuel corporations.

Already we see unprecedented levels of drilling for fossil fuels on public and private lands with sensitive wildlife habitat. Our public lands are home to iconic wildlife species like the mule deer and the elk. Allowing export of oil will spur more destruction, fragmentation and fracking of wildlife habitat and public lands, making it increasingly more difficult for wildlife species to survive.

Moving Production in the Wrong Direction

Drilling operations across tens of thousands of acres of the Roan Plateau on the Western Slope of Colorado. Credit: SkyTruth-Flickr
Drilling operations across tens of thousands of acres of the Roan Plateau on the Western Slope of Colorado. Flickr photo by SkyTruth.
As we look to tackle the biggest global challenge facing us today, climate change, we know that we need to keep fossil fuel in the ground to avoid climatic disaster. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that at least two thirds of existing proven global fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic climate tipping points.  We can’t encourage oil production by allowing domestic oil export and keep the carbon in the ground simultaneously.  We need to be reducing both oil extraction and use, not spurring it on.

President Obama has repeated his commitment to be a global leader on climate change, and has made great strides in reducing domestic carbon emissions with actions such as the newly released carbon rules to limit pollution from power plants. But we cannot maintain that role and cut carbon pollution at home while exporting millions of tons of carbon pollution across the globe. Overturning the export ban would increase emissions worldwide, and would undercut our moral authority to lead the world on reducing emissions.

Take ActionWe need to keep moving forward on curbing carbon emissions and not take a giant step backwards by allowing for the extraction and export of dirty fossil fuels. Take action and tell the EPA that you support efforts to limit carbon pollution from power plants.