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Public Lands Auction to Hand Over Almost 200,000 Acres to Fracking Industry
Denver –WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity submitted extensive comments today criticizing a plan by President Trump and his U.S. Bureau of Land Management to auction off almost 200,000 acres of public lands across Wyoming for as little as $2.00 per acre for fracking.
“The pace of public lands giveaways is set to drastically increase in 2018,” said Becca Fischer, Climate Guardian for WildEarth Guardians. “But, Trump and the BLM continue to ignore the air quality and climate impacts of these huge lease sales at the expense of the American West.”
In the comments, Guardians and the Center called on the BLM to cancel its plans to auction off almost 200,000 acres of public lands in Wyoming to the oil and gas industry in June 2018. The public lands include areas that are part of Wyoming’s Red Desert and the Upper Green River Valley.
The comments target the failure of the BLM to account for the clean air and climate impacts of authorizing more fossil fuel production on public lands. Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin is currently violating federal air quality standards, and already, oil and gas produced from public lands in the U.S. accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions in America.
“Our clean air and climate are already at a tipping point. Unfortunately, the BLM has buried its head in the sand and is completely ignoring the on-the-ground and the cumulative impacts of fracking millions of acres across the West.” said Fischer. “These public lands belong to the American people and not the oil and gas industry.”
For the lease sale, the BLM also 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 multi-stage fracking. It’s alarming and illegal when the BLM decides to ignore this issue and the huge increase in impacts that come along with it,” said Fischer.
Multi-stage fracking coupled with horizontal drilling has opened up millions of acres of public land to intense industrialization. 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.
In spite of this, the Bureau of Land Management has auctioned and is proposing to auction off more than a million acres of public lands for fracking just in 2017 in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. And, the pace of giveaways is set to increase in 2018. The lease sales for the first half of the year already total almost 1 million acres.