Uniting under the call to "keep it in the ground," dozens of activists gathered March 17 outside the Milwaukee Theater to protest the auction of over 580 acres of public lands for oil and gas extraction.
The action was part of a growing movement calling on President Barack Obama to halt all new fossil fuel leases offshore and on public lands.
Earlier in March, a fossil fuel auction in Reno, Nevada, ended without any bids for more than 50,000 acres of publicly owned land after activists peacefully disrupted the sale.
Since November, protested lease sales have been postponed in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Washington, D.C., according to organizers of the Milwaukee action.
Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced a move to bar all drilling off the Atlantic Coast. Environmentalists want the same protections for the Gulf of Mexico, Arctic and public lands.
A report from Ecoshift Consulting shows ending the policy of auctioning off public lands for oil, gas and coal extraction would keep 90 percent of these fossil fuels in the ground — keeping 450 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Jason Kowalski, U.S. policy director with 350.org said in a news release, “From Reno to Milwaukee to New Orleans to Washington, D.C. and beyond, activists are sending a clear message: climate leaders keep fossil fuels in the ground. President Obama has made powerful steps in addressing climate change, such as imposing a coal moratorium and floating new methane regulations, but all of that is undermined if he continues to sell vast quantities of oil and gas to the fossil fuel industry.”
Julie Enslow, 350 Milwaukee, added, "As a Milwaukee citizen concerned about climate change, I strongly oppose the BLM auction in our city. It is time to stop all government leasing of our public lands to the fossil fuel industry for extraction of oil and gas, and coal. Time is running out for a livable planet, and the burning of fossil fuels has to stop."