This past week, WildEarth Guardians moved to block the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from auctioning off more than 15,000 acres of public lands in southeastern New Mexico for fracking.
The appeal comes as President Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, is steadily working to pull out all the stops to allowing the oil and gas industry free and unfettered access to our public lands. Claiming that there are “impediments” fracking on public lands, this week, Zinke ordered the Bureau of Land Management to prioritize selling lands to oil and gas companies and streamline drilling permits.
Of course, there are no impediments to the oil and gas industry. As we’re seeing already, whatever industry wants, the Bureau of Land Management gives. Just this last week, the agency announced plans to approve the drilling of 3,500 new oil and gas wells in Wyoming and unveiled plans to auction off 57,000 acres of public lands in Utah just east of the Bears Ears National Monument.
Not only that, but the only impediment to industry seems to be its own economic realities. Companies can’t even develop the leases they have and aren’t even showing up to buy new lands for fracking even when the Bureau of Land Management offers them up for as little as $2.00 an acre.
That’s all completely beside the point, though. Zinke’s not removing “barriers” or “obstacles” to oil and gas development on our public lands, he’s working to ensure the fossil fuel industry dominates our public lands everywhere at all times.
The fact is, Zinke’s not trying to solve a problem. He’s working to advance an agenda to hand over complete control of our lands over to the likes of Exxon and BP.
In doing so, he wants the American public to shoulder the costs of global warming, oil spills, air pollution, and water contamination. It’s nothing short of a sick scheme to force Americans to subsidize the profits of fossil fuel companies with their health, their legacy of public lands, and their future.
That is no more evident than in New Mexico, where more than 4.4 million acres of public lands are already under control by the oil and gas industry. In spite of this, nearly 20% of these acres aren’t even producing anything.
In southeast New Mexico, the picture is stark. So many public lands are already in the hands of oil and gas companies it makes the Bureau of Land Management’s latest plans to auction off 15,000 acres seem somewhat inconsequential. It underscores that industry isn’t a starving victim, they’re a ravenous glutton.
See for yourself. We put together an interactive “swipe” map showing the lands slated to be auctioned by the Bureau of Land Management in September and the lands already under control by the oil and gas industry. Click on the map above to see it or click here.
With our climate, our public lands, and our clean energy future at stake, our aim is complete defiance of Zinke and his agenda to turn the American West into a fossil fuel sacrifice zone. He may lie, but it won’t stop us from keeping our oil and gas in the ground.