Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Trump Order Could Open Up Area Larger Than Yellowstone to Drilling

Popular
Bureau of Land Management

An investigation by Greenpeace, published Wednesday by Bloomberg, has revealed that more than 2.7 million acres of iconic U.S. land could be at risk from fossil fuel exploration following Donald Trump's decision to review the protection on dozens of national monuments.


By overlaying government maps of oil, gas and coal deposits with the boundaries of the 27 national monuments on Trump's list, Greenpeace's investigation shows for the first time the full extent of the land potentially at risk from fossil fuel exploration.

Last month, Trump issued an executive order requiring the Department of Interior to review all large monuments designated by U.S. presidents under the Antiquities Act since 1996, suggesting they may pose a barrier to energy independence.

"These are the spectacular landscapes whose rugged contours and breathtaking views have defined America's history and identity for centuries," Greenpeace USA spokesperson Travis Nichols said.

"They are the common heritage of everyone in our country and must be preserved for future generation. Yet instead of protecting them, Trump wants to carve up these beautiful lands into corporate giveaways for the oil and gas industry. This out-of-touch billionaire may be about to hand over America's national treasures to the same industry that's already putting them at risk by fueling more climate change."

The analysis shows that a swath of protected land larger than Yellowstone national park could be opened up to drilling—with six national monuments affected by the executive order sitting above fossil fuel reserves. These include some of the most iconic lands in the U.S.—from the spectacular rock formations of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante to Carrizo Plain, the last remnant of a vast grassland that once stretched across California.

Map showing potential fossil fuel reserves below national monuments (in green). Grand Staircase (left); Bears Ears (center) and Canyons of the Ancients (right). Greenpeace

The analysis also reveals that, in some cases, the area of potential interest to fossil fuel prospectors covers the vast majority of the monuments. Around 90 percent of Bears Ears, 100 percent of Canyons of the Ancients, 42 percent of Grand Staircase; and 98 percent of San Gabriel Mountains sit above potential deposits of oil, gas and coal.

The research is published as Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke is visiting two of the national monuments on Trump's list, Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante, both of them in Utah, as part of the review.

Sec. Zinke has 120 days from the signing of the order to report back on whether monuments should be rescinded or resized, although he will report back on Bears Ears within 45 days.

Months before President Obama designated Bears Ears as a national monument last December, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining approved drilling applications by one of the U.S.' largest independent oil companies on land that is now within the monument boundaries.

Since President Clinton created it in 1996, Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument in Utah has been fiercely opposed by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has personally lobbied Trump and Zinke to scrap it. One of the reasons behind the desire amongst Utah Republicans to do away with Grand Staircase is the coal seam that runs through the monument.

Carrizo Plain, a remote area of California grassland famous for it's spectacular springtime wildflowers, was declared a monument by President Clinton in 2001. The Bureau of Land Management's 2010 resource management plan estimated that there were 45 oil wells within the monuments boundary—including 15 producing wells—that pre-date its designation. The monument is also surrounded by a number of large oil fields, including California's largest, which lies just a few miles away.

In the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana, plans to expand existing oil and gas operations within the protected area's boundaries were at the center of a legal battle between conservation groups and the Bureau of Land Management.

"People in this country who cannot afford the membership fee at Mar-a-Lago want unpolluted access to the public lands they love as citizens and own as taxpayers," Nichols said. "People must resist the latest in a trend of senseless rollbacks by the Trump White House and demand the Interior Department protect the land and water for people in their states and across the country. Trump is on the verge of jeopardizing true national treasures, but the people who live, worship, work, play and rely on these public lands and waters will ensure that he will not succeed."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A pangolin at a rescue center in Cambodia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Malavika Vyawahare

China has banned the trade and consumption of wild animals in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 2,700 lives and infected more than 81,000 people, most of them in China, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Read More
A man carries plastic shopping bags in Times Square on May 5, 2018 in New York City. Kena Betancur / VIEWpress / Corbis / Getty Images

Nearly one year after New York became the second state in the nation to pass a ban on grocery store plastic bags — the law is going into effect on Sunday.

Read More
Sponsored
White gold man-made diamond solitaire engagement ring. Clean Origin

While keeping track of the new trends in the diamond industry can be hard, it is still an essential task of any savvy consumer or industry observer. Whether you are looking to catch a deal on your next diamond purchase or researching the pros and cons of an investment within the diamond industry, keeping up with the trends is imperative.

Read More
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (C) chants with housing and environmental advocates before a news conference to introduce legislation to transform public housing as part of her Green New Deal outside the U.S. Capitol Nov. 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) took to the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday to chide Republicans for not reading the Green New Deal, which she introduced over one year ago, as The Hill reported. She then read the entire 14-page document into the congressional record.

Read More
Anti Ivan Duque's demonstrator is seen holding a placard with the photos of social leader Alirio Sánchez Sánchez and the indigenous Hector Janer Latín, both killed in Cauca, Colombia during a protest against Ivan Duque visit in London which included a meeting about fracking, environmental issues, the peace process implementation, and questioning the risk that social leaders in Colombia face. Andres Pantoja / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Colombia was the most dangerous nation in 2019 to be an environmental activist and experts suspect that conditions will only get worse.

Read More