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
Gina Lopez, a former Philippine environment secretary, philanthropist and eco-warrior, died on Aug. 19 from brain cancer. She was 65.
Thousands of union members at a multibillion dollar petrochemical plant outside of Pittsburgh were given a choice last week: Stand and wait for a speech by Donald Trump or take the day off without pay.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Simon Mui
States across the country are stepping up to make clean cars cheaper and easier to find. Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted Friday to adopt a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program that will increase the availability of electric vehicles in the state, improve air quality and increase transportation affordability.
By Annemieke Tsike-Sossah
World Humanitarian Day offers an opportunity to take stock of where the world stands on addressing humanitarian issues and highlight lessons for how to improve in the future. Here are five ways we all can commit to driving positive change for the world.
Some 183 nations are set to discuss possibly loosening elephant and ivory exports at the World Wildlife Conference on trade in endangered species, known as CITES, which is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.