Now that Trump has taken office, the oil and gas industry is moving fast to lay claim to our public lands.
Since the President’s first day January 20, 2017, companies have demanded the Administration sell more than a million acres of public lands in the American West for fracking. These include lands next to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Great Basin National Park in Nevada, Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho, Greater Yellowstone region of Montana, and more.
This map shows where industry has submitted “Expressions of Interest” to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. What are “Expressions of Interest,” you might ask? They’re public lands where private companies have demanded the rights to drill, frack and profit.
Put another way, they’re lands where industry has said, “gimmie.”
The map we prepared shows industry “Expressions of Interest” submitted before Trump took office and afterward. There’s quite a difference. Since Trump took office, the oil and gas industry seems to have escalated its demands.
Click on the image below and you can see the map and zoom in on the public lands being targeted by fracking companies.
While giving away our public lands for fracking is scandalous, there are two things especially shocking about these “Expressions of Interest” submitted by industry.
First, companies seems to be eyeing lands next to incredibly iconic western landscapes where there is no potential for development. In Arizona, there is currently no oil and gas production even occurring on public lands (and hasn’t been for decades). In spite of this, industry has demanded the Bureau of Land Management sell off thousands of acres near the Grand Canyon.
The reality is, the oil and gas industry simply wants to control public lands to undermine protections and pad their assets. It’s no wonder that nationwide, only 46% of public lands sold to the oil and gas industry are actually producing oil and gas. What a racket.
Second, most of these “Expressions of Interest” were submitted anonymously. This is a little known, yet incredibly dangerous problem.
With industry allowed to submit anonymous “Expressions of Interest,” there’s no telling who’s looking to buy up our public lands. Is it Russia? Is it Exxon? We don’t know and the Bureau of Land Management amazingly doesn’t seem to care.
Given that most public lands included in an “Expression of Interest” are ultimately offered for sale by the Bureau of Land Management, this is problematic. It means that these lands could be sold to companies that may not even be based in America or worse, may actually be foreign countries.
While President Trump and his Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, are touting public lands fracking as needed for “energy independence,” this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, our lands are being sold to make oil and gas companies rich at our expense. It’s a complete scam. The fact that this process can be driven by “anonymous” interests just underscores a lack of accountability to the American public.
It’s our climate that stands to suffer most, however. As more public lands are sold to the oil and gas industry, we’re locking our world into further fossil fuel dependence and carbon pollution. It’s why we need to fiercely oppose these public lands giveaways.