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WildEarth Guardians Confronts Trump Plan to Sell Public Lands Next to Bears Ears, Dinosaur National Monuments to Oil and Gas Industry
Denver – WildEarth Guardians this week called on the federal government to defend two of Utah’s iconic National Monuments and cancel plans to auction off nearly 160,000 acres of public lands for fracking in late 2017 and early 2018.
“In spite of overwhelming public support for our National Monuments, President Trump and his Interior Secretary lackey, Ryan Zinke, are letting the oil and gas industry take them over,” said Becca Fischer, a Climate Guardian with WildEarth Guardians. “This wanton giveaway of our public lands next to Bears Ears and Dinosaur National Monuments underscores how Trump and Zinke are steadily sacrificing our public lands for fossil fuels. We have to put an end to this.”
WildEarth Guardians submitted comments this week to Zinke’s Bureau of Land Management and called out the agency for its latest fracking plans, which involve public lands directly adjacent to Bears Ears and Dinosaur National Monuments.
In December, the agency is proposing to auction off nearly 100,000 acres of public lands in northeastern Utah, much of which is next to Dinosaur National Monument and along the Green River. In March 2018, the agency is proposing to auction off nearly 60,000 acres of public lands in southern Utah, most of which are located directly east of Bears Ears National Monument.
The Bureau of Land Management’s push to open Utah public lands for fracking comes as President Trump and Zinke have sought to remove protections for National Monuments and aggressively cater to the fossil fuel industry.
Their move comes even as Americans want public lands protected, not opened up for fracking. A 2017 poll by Colorado College, for example, found that 60 percent of Utah residents support National Monument protections and that Westerners want protection of public lands to take precedence over energy development by a margin of 3 to 1.
In its comments, Guardians called on the Bureau of Land Management to abandon its fracking plans, citing not only the need to protect Bears Ears and Dinosaur National Monuments, but also the critical need to safeguard the climate.
In late June, WildEarth Guardians called on a federal court to put a halt to new oil and gas sales unless and until the Bureau of Land Management addresses the climate and public health implications of fossil fuel production.
“This isn’t just about saving our National Monuments, it’s about defending our climate,” said Fischer. “While Trump and Zinke are determined to turn their backs on clean energy, we’re here to say it’s time to keep our fossil fuels in the ground.”
The agency’s proposed giveaway comes as the oil and gas industry is hoarding public lands for fracking. Less than half of all lands sold to oil and gas companies are actually producing, and more than 7,500 drilling permits are sitting idle. In Utah, less than 40% of lands sold to industry are actually producing oil and gas and more than 2,100 drilling permits are sitting idle, more than in any other western state.
To see pictures of Bears Ears National Monument, click here.
To better understand the threat to Bears Ears posed by fracking, click here.
To see photos of fracking in the Uinta Basin near Dinosaur National Monument, click here.