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Stepping Up to Stop Oil and Gas Giveaways

35254674540_396d372b8e_oHi there, I’m Rebecca Fischer (you can call me Becca) and today I’m starting my fourth week on the job at WildEarth Guardians as the organization’s newest Climate Guardian. The focus of my work? Combatting climate change by confronting public lands oil and gas production in the American West and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

It’s been quite an experience so far.

I’ve already traveled to the Greater Chaco Region of northwestern New Mexico to see firsthand how the oil and gas industry’s relentless push to frack is threatening Chaco Canyon National Historical Park and Navajo communities in the area (and if you haven’t already, check out our interactive map showing how threatened Chaco is by industry’s push to frack >>).

I’ve filed protests to to thwart the Trump administration’s wanton giveaway of our public lands to oil and gas companies.

I’ve also filed Freedom of Information Act requests to shed light on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plans to auction off public lands in Colorado and New Mexico for fracking (part of WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program’s broader push for transparency).

One thing’s for sure, WildEarth Guardians does not waste time taking action to protect our public lands and keep our oil and gas in the ground. The climate crisis demands action now and it’s a thrill to be on the frontlines of defending our future.

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The iconic Ancestral Puebloan ruin, Pueblo Bonito, in Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Chaco Canyon and the broader Greater Chaco region are facing increasing threats from fracking. 

My experience as a scientist, organizer, and now lawyer, has provided me with the background to dive headfirst into my new position as a Climate Guardian. For example, when both the Colorado and New Mexico Bureau of Land Management offices decided to turn their backs on the climate in proposing two oil and gas sales scheduled for September, I was ready to jump into action.

And although these are my first protests (essentially administrative appeals) challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to auction off public lands for fracking, WildEarth Guardians is an expert when it comes to this issue.

In the last 12 months, Guardians has commented on and protested public lands oil and gas sales in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada. Already, Guardians is in court challenging nearly 400,000 acres of public lands oil and gas sales and has even called for a national halt on any further sales unless and until the Bureau of Land Management can ensure protection of the climate.

This kind of bold action is needed now more than ever. Just in 2017, President Trump and his Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, are planning to sell 1.1 million acres of public lands in the American West to the oil and gas industry for fracking. In doing so, they’re completely turning their back on climate change.

Check out WildEarth Guardians’ interactive map showing which lands are on the auction block for fracking in 2017 >>

map screenshotWe’re not going to let that happen, though. We’re not going to let our public lands be sold to the private industry, and we’re not going to let our federal government ignore the consequences of more fossil fuel production. We can’t afford to stand on the sidelines and not push back against these fracking giveaways.

For our climate, our future, and our public lands, we have to keep our oil and gas in the ground. While we have our work cut out for us, I am excited to be on board to add my voice and experience to the fight.

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