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Public Lands Giveaway to Hand Over 94,000 Acres to Fracking Industry
Denver – To protect our public lands and clean air, WildEarth Guardians recently challenged a plan by President Trump and his U.S. Bureau of Land Management to auction off more than 94,000 acres of public lands in Utah’s Green River Valley for fracking. Four of the parcels scheduled for the December auction are within view of the entrance to Dinosaur National Monument, an area renown for its dark night skies, petroglyphs, and extraordinary deposit of dinosaur fossils.
“No area is safe from Trump and Secretary Zinke’s wanton giveaway of our public lands for fracking,” said Becca Fischer, Climate Guardian for WildEarth Guardians. “Moving forward with these leases will damage our public lands and clean air, but the BLM is turning a blind eye to these impacts to the detriment of the American people.”
In its protest (also known as an administrative appeal) WildEarth Guardians urged the Bureau of Land Management to cancel its plans to auction 94,000 acres of public lands in Utah to the oil and gas industry on December 12, 2017. Guardians’ appeal targets the failure of the BLM to account for the visual impacts on the Monument as well as the clean air impacts of authorizing more fossil fuel production on public lands.
In fall of 2016, the State of Utah recommended that the Federal Government designate the Uinta Basin as in violation of federal air quality standards for ozone. The EPA is scheduled to take action on this recommendation any day now.
Ground-level ozone is hazardous to public health. It forms when emissions from smokestacks, tailpipes, and oil and gas production operations react with sunlight. Two key pollutants, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and nitrogen oxides, or NOx, are the main culprits. The State of Utah has found that the oil and gas industry is directly responsible for 98% of the VOC emissions and 67% of the NOx emissions in the Basin.
“There is no doubt that the oil and gas industry has created a major air quality problem in the Uinta Basin that threatens public health,” said Fischer. “The BLM is required by the Clean Air Act to address this issue early on and right now they are completely failing to even acknowledge that this issue exists. The agency needs to take action now.”
The Bureau of Land Management will likely respond to WildEarth Guardians’ appeal before the December 12 lease sale.