The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced last week its intent to auction off 86 parcels comprising more than 36,000 acres of our public lands to the oil and gas industry for drilling and fracking. These lands are located along Colorado’s Front Range, including in Weld, Adams, Arapahoe, Morgan, and Logan Counties. They also include portions of the Pawnee National Grassland, which is already being heavily impacted by oil and gas development.
Click here or on the image below to view our interactive map of these where these fracking leases are located in relation to Front Range communities and other key areas.
The ensuing drilling and fracking will fuel air pollution in the Denver metro area, an area already violating federal limits for ground-level ozone, the key ingredient of smog. The key culprit for the region’s smog? Unrestrained oil and gas development. And, despite rules adopted to limit oil and gas industry emissions, studies have found smog-forming pollution is still on the rise.
The development also stands to destroy drinking water and diminish the flows of the South Platte River. As WildEarth Guardians pointed out in a recent objection to the Forest Service’s plans to allow oil and gas leasing under the Pawnee National Grassland, oil and gas drilling and fracking is poised to permanently destroy 1.4 million acre-feet of water, nearly half a trillion gallons (see objection at p. 19).
But the real kicker is the amount of greenhouse gases that would be unleashed.
Although the Bureau of Land Management has not been entirely transparent yet on the full amount of carbon pollution expected to be released, an estimate by the Forest Service found that development of leases on the Pawnee national Grassland would unlock 127,440 tons of carbon dioxide and 6,608 tons of methane. Given that methane is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide, this amounts to nearly 650,000 tons of carbon in total slated to be released annually because of expanded fracking just on the Pawnee.
And this doesn’t even take into account the carbon pollution that would be released from natural gas processing, oil transport and refining, and of course the eventual combustion of all the oil and gas slated to be produced from these leases.
WildEarth Guardians is fighting to stop this tide of fossil fuel destruction and keep the Front Range safe and healthy. We’ve turned the heat up on both the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, exposing how disastrous their oil and gas plans would be. Sadly, they’re not yet listening. With the Bureau of Land Management’s latest notice, we have a chance to appeal and, hopefully set things straight. Stay tuned for updates.