The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Public Lands Under Siege: Trump Administration Moves to Hasten Drilling, Weaken Public Input
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:
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
On Friday, Seal Rescue Ireland released Sesame the seal into the ocean after five months of rehabilitation at the Seal Rescue Ireland facility. Watch the release on EcoWatch's Facebook.
By Jordan Davidson
Guinness is joining the fight against single use plastic. The brewer has seen enough hapless turtles and marine life suffering from the scourge of plastic.
People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.