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Frightening Fracking Proposal to Hand Over 63,000 Acres in Montana to Industry
Denver – In defense of our air, water, and communities, WildEarth Guardians, along with seven other conservation groups, submitted extensive comments yesterday opposing a plan by President Trump and his U.S. Bureau of Land Management to auction off more than 63,000 acres of public lands in Montana for as little as $2.00 per acre for fracking.
Guardians was joined on the comments by 350 Montana, the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, the Montana Environmental Information Center, Park County Environmental Council, Preserve the Beartooth Front, and the Western Environmental Law Center.
“The Bureau of Land Management continues to rubber stamp industry requests to frack anywhere, including iconic areas such as Livingston, Montana, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and the Beartooth Front near Red, Lodge, Montana,” said Becca Fischer, Climate Guardian for WildEarth Guardians. “No place is sacred from the Trump Administration’s greed.”
It the comments submitted on Monday, WildEarth Guardians and allies called on the Bureau of Land Management to cancel its plans to auction off 63,000+ acres of public lands in Montana to the oil and gas industry next March. The BLM, among other things, failed to analyze the impacts of subjecting new areas to industrial-scale fracking and drilling.
“The majority of new oil and gas wells these days use fracking. So, it’s really alarming when the BLM decides to ignore this issue and the huge increase in impacts that come along with fracking,” said Fischer.
Fracking coupled with horizontal drilling has opened up millions of acres of public land to intense, on-the-ground impacts. For example, fracking can mean thousands of semis tearing up rural roads and kicking up dust, massive increases in air pollution and greenhouse gases, and large-scale water consumption. There are also concerns about water contamination from frack fluids, earthquakes from waste water disposal, and the social impacts on communities that result from an influx of new people.
The leases will also devastate the greater sage-grouse population in Montana. Over 23,000 acres of the lease sale are in prime sage-grouse habitat.
"Secretary Zinke's proposal to lease prime sage-grouse habitat on Montana's public lands for fracking, while vast areas of existing leases go unused, is an assault both on the survival of the greater sage-grouse and on common sense," said Michael Saul, Senior Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. "Day after day, this administration's actions make clear that wildlife conservation is to being wholly abandoned in a shortsighted rush for more harmful and unnecessary leasing."
“And, to top it all off, the BLM is not even confirming that the industry actually needs these lands or really intends to develop them,” said Fischer. “These lease sales are really a slap in the face to the American public.”
In Montana, only 36% of public lands sold to the oil and gas industry are actually producing oil and gas. The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to auction almost 200,000 acres in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming in March 2018 alone.