The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Trump, Zinke to Auction Away 700,000 Acres of Western Public Lands for Fracking
More than 300,000 acres are on the auction block in Nevada's Great Basin in 2017, including wild lands near the Ruby Mountains. PR vonB / Flickr
President Trump and Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke are continuing their onslaught against American public lands this holiday month and moving forward with plans to auction off 700,000 acres for fracking, endangering clean air and water, the climate and sacred lands.
"First it's our cherished national monuments, now Trump and Zinke are set to give away even more public lands to the fossil fuel industry," said Becca Fischer, climate guardian for WildEarth Guardians. "Rather than giving back this holiday season, this administration is proving that it will stop at nothing to put our public lands in the hands of dirty energy executives and sell off our rights to clean energy and a healthy environment."
In total in 2017, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has auctioned and is proposing to auction off more than a million acres of public lands for fracking in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Of that 1 million, the BLM will sell 700,000 acres in the December sales.
● On Dec. 12, 99,000 acres in Montana, 388,000 acres in Nevada and 94,000 acres in Utah are slated to be auctioned off for fracking.
● On Dec. 14, 72,000 acres in Wyoming are slated to be auctioned off.
The pace of public lands giveaways is set to increase in 2018. The BLM's lease sales for the first half of the year already total almost 1 million acres.
"While oil and gas companies get rich, Americans are shouldering the cost of climate change, air pollution, water contamination, lost wildlife habitat and degraded sacred lands," said Fischer. "This administration has made abundantly clear that the American public and their lands are nothing more than a 'burden' to industry."
Zinke's "Energy Burdens" report released in October showcases the Department of Interior's plans to implement the oil and gas industry's wish list for policy revisions. The report outlines Zinke's plans to eliminate public input and grease the skids for unfettered fracking.
The December lease sales come amid growing protests over the BLM's management of public lands for fracking. WildEarth Guardians filed administrative appeals (also called "protests") challenging the proposed leasing in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming as illegal under federal law.
"In every western state, the Bureau of Land Management is sidestepping the law, shortcutting its reviews and doing everything it can to lock out the American public," said Fischer. "Sadly, on our public lands, the BLM is putting fracking above everything."
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 wastewater disposal, and the social impacts on communities that result from an influx of new people.
Oil and gas leasing on public lands is also a major contributor to global warming in the U.S. Leasing opens the door for oil and gas drilling and fracking, and more fossil fuel burning. Reports indicate 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to oil and gas development from public lands and waters.
In 2016, WildEarth Guardians filed suit over the failure of the BLM to limit oil and gas production to protect the climate. That suit is moving forward in federal court. If successful, it will call into question the legal validity of these oil and gas sales.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."