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Warren has new plan for fossil fuel leasing on public lands

By ELANA SCHORApril 15, 2019
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Democratic Presidential hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks after she joined striking Stop & Shop supermarket employees on the picket line on Friday, April 12, 2019, in Somerville, Mass. Unionized workers in three states walked off the job on Thursday over stalled contract negotiations. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
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Democratic Presidential hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks after she joined striking Stop & Shop supermarket employees on the picket line on Friday, April 12, 2019, in Somerville, Mass. Unionized workers in three states walked off the job on Thursday over stalled contract negotiations. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Elizabeth Warren is vowing to prohibit new fossil fuel leasing on public lands if she’s elected president, one of several new energy proposals she rolled out on Monday before a campaign swing in two Western states.

Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, already has launched more than a half-dozen new proposals since entering the Democratic presidential primary , outpacing her many rivals in a calculated bid to lead 2020′s ideas race. The latest addition to her policy agenda aims to reverse the significant climb in drilling on public lands under President Donald Trump while fleshing out her approach to climate change, a key issue for her party’s liberal base.

Besides an executive order barring new fossil fuel leases on public lands on shore and offshore, Warren said Monday that she would work toward boosting U.S. electricity generation from renewable sources offshore or on public lands. Her plan also includes free entry to national parks, the reinstatement of Obama-era environmental policies Trump rolled back and the creation of a service program to help maintain public lands.

“Any serious effort to address climate change must include public lands — fossil fuel extraction in these areas is responsible for nearly a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions,” Warren wrote in a Monday blog post announcing her proposals.

Warren is set to discuss the public lands policies this week during campaign stops in South Carolina, Colorado and Utah.

Her proposals, particularly the bid to end new fossil fuel leasing on public lands, are likely to draw plaudits from environmental groups while running afoul of the oil and gas industry, which has benefited from millions of acres of public land offered for lease since Trump took office. Advocacy groups had urged then-President Barack Obama to halt new leases on federal land without success.

However, the Trump administration’s plans for new offshore drilling have sparked legal challenges of their own, including one affecting tests on the Atlantic coast that’s backed by the Republican attorney general of South Carolina.

Dan Naatz, senior vice president at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, warned that Warren’s proposal to end new fossil fuel leases on public lands “would damage our economy and negatively impact job growth in communities” nationwide.

“The royalties, rental fees and bonus bid revenues” from leasing, Naatz said in a statement, “which are evenly split between the federal government and the states where the development occurred, play a vital role in the state and local economies of states and tribal communities.”

Warren’s bid for a dramatic increase in renewable electricity generation on public land and offshore is a major turnabout from current policy. She acknowledged in her blog post that her goal is “nearly ten times what we are currently generating” but billed it as achievable.

Among Warren’s other policy rollouts this year are proposals to tax the nation’s wealthiest people and tax corporations with profits greater than $100 million , a universal child care plan and proposals designed to decrease consolidation in the tech industry and the agriculture industry.

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