Quantcast

Public Lands Under Siege: Trump Administration Moves to Hasten Drilling, Weaken Public Input

Popular
Oil pumps just outside Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Mason Cummings / Wilderness Society

The Interior Department is moving to expedite the leasing process for allowing oil and gas drilling on public land, according to an agency memo made public Thursday.

The memo released by the Bureau of Land Management states that it seeks to "simplify and streamline the leasing process to alleviate unnecessary impediments and burdens ... to ensure quarterly oil and gas lease sales are consistently held."


The directive issues several new guidelines to shorten the timeline for drilling, including requiring all lease sales to be processed within a 60-day period, allowing formerly mandatory public participation in lease reviews to be left to the discretion of lower-level field officials, and shortening the public protest period on lease sales to 10 days. The memo was issued one day before the Interior Department opened leasing and mining on the recently-reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears monuments in Utah.

As reported by the Washington Post:

"The Wilderness Society pointed out that oil and gas companies owned leases on 15 million acres before 2017, with thousands of drilling permits they haven't used.

'Today's announced sweeping change to BLM's oil and gas leasing program threatens irreplaceable federal public lands and resources in Utah and across the West,' said Stephen Bloch, legal director for the Southern Wilderness Alliance. He called it a 'lease first, think later' policy that is 'fundamentally inconsistent with federal laws that demand agencies think before they act and consider the full range of impacts from selling oil and gas leases.'

Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that it is 'deeply disturbing that the Trump administration wants to give fossil fuel companies free rein over our public lands, without community input or disclosing environmental harms.' The changes announced won't speed up oil and gas leasing, Saul predicted. 'They'll result in rushed, ill-considered, illegal decisions that will be overturned in court.'"

For a deeper dive:

Memo: Washington Post, The Hill, Washington Examiner. Monuments: Earther

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Waterloo Bridge during the Extinction Rebellion protest in London. Martin Hearn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Money talks. And today it had something to say about the impending global climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Sam Cooper

By Sam Cooper

Thomas Edison once said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!"

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
A NOAA research vessel at a Taylor Energy production site in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2018. NOAA

The federal government is looking into the details from the longest running oil spill in U.S. history, and it's looking far worse than the oil rig owner let on, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Damage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from the 2016 occupation. USFWS

By Tara Lohan

When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

Read More Show Less
Computer model projection of temperature anomalies across Europe on June 27. Temperature scale in °C. Tropicaltidbits.com

A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.

Read More Show Less
Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

Read More Show Less