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Ruins at Chaco Canyon. pedrik / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pushing ahead with the sale of oil and gas leases on land outside of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and other sites revered by Native American tribes, The Associated Press reported.

The latest listing—which quietly appeared on the BLM website not long after the government reopened after the shutdown—comes about a year after then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke postponed a lease sale in the Greater Chaco Region in response to intense public pressure over cultural and environmental concerns.

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Glen Canyon Dam, Colorado River. Sharon Mollerus, CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

In the last few weeks of 2018, the Trump administration set the stage for a big battle over water in the new year. At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Trump administration seeks to roll back important protections for wetlands and waterways, which are important to drinking water and wildlife.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Wind farm with solar panels in southern California. 4kodiak / E+ / Getty Images

By Jeff Deyette

Despite the Trump administration's ongoing attempts to prop up coal and undermine renewables—at FERC, EPA and through tariffs and the budget process—2018 should instead be remembered for the surge in momentum toward a clean energy economy. Here are nine storylines that caught my attention this past year and help illustrate the unstoppable advancement of renewable energy and other modern grid technologies.

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32 fracking companies in the U.S. are running a deficit of nearly $1 billion. grandriver / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

2018 was the year the oil and gas industry promised that its darling, the shale fracking revolution, would stop focusing on endless production and instead turn a profit for its investors. But as the year winds to a close, it's clear that hasn't happened.

Instead, the fracking industry has helped set new records for U.S. oil production while continuing to lose huge amounts of money—and that was before the recent crash in oil prices.

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By Owen Agnew

Wildfires, sea level rise, air pollution, asthma—you don't have to go far to find communities living with climate change impacts. But there are also climate solutions everywhere you look. This summer, the Freedom to Breathe Tour visited communities across the country that are working to reduce carbon emissions and make their communities healthier and more resilient.

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Cheryl Walsh Bellville

By Eleanor Bravo

Imagine: a deep, pristine aquifer persists without incident for more than 11,700 years in the Valley of San Augustin. It is revered and left unmarred by the community members who know of its existence, utilizing it respectfully and sustainably, leaving it intact—from the Ice Age until 2008. That is when a New York-based company, Augustin Plains Ranch LLC, owned by an Italian billionaire, decided to set up its operation and apply for a permit to invade the aquifer by extracting 54,000 acre feet of water per year.

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Recovery Act-funded work at the Hanford Site. U.S. Department of Energy

By William J. Kinsella

Seventy-five years ago, in March 1943, a mysterious construction project began at a remote location in eastern Washington state. Over the next two years some 50,000 workers built an industrial site occupying half the area of Rhode Island, costing more than $230 million—equivalent to $3.1 billion today. Few of those workers, and virtually no one in the surrounding community, knew the facility's purpose.

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An oil rig near downtown Midland, Texas. RT Eichman / Flickr

By John R. Platt

The number of oil and gas rigs in the U.S. has increased an astonishing 38 percent over the past year. That's according to S&P Global Platts Analytics, which reported this week that the country had 1,070 rigs at the end of January, up from just 773 a year earlier.

Experts expressed fear that all of this new development does not bode well for the planet. "This will have a very significant climate impact," said Romany Webb, climate law fellow with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. "The oil and gas industry is a huge source of methane, which is a really potent greenhouse gas. And then on top of that you also have the carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of this oil and gas. So this is very concerning from a climate perspective."

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt announced Monday that the Trump administration is rolling back the Clean Power Plan to end the previous administration's "war on coal" but there's a big problem: Obama didn't kill the coal industry—the market for cheap natural gas and increasingly affordable renewable energy did.

Case in point, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that New Mexico's largest utility still plans to phase out coal as a power source in 2031. The Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) currently uses coal for 56 percent of its energy generation but wants drop use to 12 percent by 2025.

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PNM, the largest electricity provider in New Mexico, has more than 1 million solar panels at 15 different solar sites to provide clean energy for the state.

New Mexico's capital has joined the growing movement of U.S. cities committing to 100 percent renewable energy.

On Wednesday, Santa Fe's City Council unanimously adopted Mayor Javier Gonzales' resolution directing City Manager Brian Snyde to develop a feasibility study on how the city can transition to renewables by 2025. Snyde will report the findings in 90 days.

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The USGS Core Research Center collaborated with the USGS Energy Resources Program to drill a core from the Mancos Shale to aid in the oil and gas assessment. Joshua Hicks, USGS

By Andy Rowell

Amidst the continued dire warnings about climate change, censored scientists and stranded assets, the oil industry keeps on doing what it does best: keeps on belligerently looking for more oil and gas.

Earlier this week, BP announced it had discovered what it is labelling a "significant new source of U.S. natural gas supply" in New Mexico in the Mancos Shale, just across from the Colorado border.

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