Sierra Club, an organization that has campaigned for years against the fossil fuel industry, has begun a full-fledged campaign to resuscitate a long-dead Democrat proposal to effectively ban energy production on federal land.
The group wants to reintroduce a 2015 bill that would have banned all fossil fuel production on federal land.
Sierra Club’s campaign message for the initial proposal was one that ostensibly promoted a “keep it in the ground” and “none of the above” slogan, suggesting activists with the group were dead-set on squelching all forms of energy.
Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren, and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday they are reintroducing the bill in response to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on coal mining leases. The order directs the EPA to rescind the Department of the Interior’s moratorium on coal mining leases on federal lands.
Sierra Club president Aaron Mair told an audience at a rally in 2015 regarding the initial version of the bill the club is “one of the forces behind shutting down coal and coal-fired power plants” in the U.S. “More importantly, [the Sierra Club is] pushing the argument to leave it all in the ground, the argument of none-of-the-above,” he added. The 2015 rally was meant to generate support for the so-called Keep It in the Ground Act, which was spearheaded by Sanders.
The group has a history of opposing renewable energy projects, despite its traditional role as cheerleaders for wind and solar power. It has opposed solar projects in the Mohave Desert, a region of the country where solar energy has the best potential. Activists with the group also voice opposition to various nuclear energy, which is the nation’s largest source of carbon-free electricity.
The Sierra Club was back at it again this week to endorse the bill, but this time the group chose a different spokesman.
“The Sierra Club applauds Senator Merkley for providing a road map to help tackle the climate crisis while protecting our publicly-owned lands,” Michael Brune, the group’s executive director, said Wednesday in a press statement. “By keeping dirty fuels in the ground and furthering the transition to clean, renewable energy, we can protect our clean air and water and ensure a livable future for our children’s and future generations.”
Sierra Club’s prickly views on green energy and its decidedly anti-oil position has prompted energy supporters to suggest the group’s true agenda is a “none of the above” and nothing below strategy.
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