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  • Protesters outside the White House

    Protesters outside the White House | Photo: Center for Biological Diversity

Over 1 million signatures were collected by lobby groups and presented to President Obama.

Indigenous and Environmental groups at the heart of the “Keep it in the Ground” movement collected more than 1 million signatures and presented them Thursday to U.S. President Barack Obama, calling for an end to fossil fuel leasing on public lands and water.

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The “Keep it in the Ground” movement consists of over 450 climate change organizations that are advocating for ongoing divestment from fossil fuels, a major contributor of climate change and pollution.

The protesters gathered in front of the White House Thursday in a massive rally with a number of organizations part of the wider movement.

The movement has been running for a year, and has been successful in stopping more than 20 federal fossil fuel auctions. The movement says that halting new fossil fuel projects would keep up to 450 billion tons of potential greenhouse gases in the ground.

Those participating in the rally said that the disastrous effects of climate change were already present, where local communities were most affected.

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“We are standing against the fossil fuels industry in saying that whether they like it or not, their short-term profits are less important than the planet we are going to leave to future generations,” said democratic Senator for Vermont Bernie Sanders.

“The Keep it in the Ground movement is growing stronger. In just one year, we have fundamentally altered the fossil fuel landscape and are having a national conversation about ending fossil fuel leasing on federally controlled lands and waters,” said Erich Pica, from Friends of the Earth.

Protesters also took the opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who are fighting against the the US$3.8-billion North Dakota Access pipeline which threatens their native lands and sacred sites.

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