At the end of April, WildEarth Guardians challenged the Trump Administration’s plans to auction off nearly 59,000 acres of public lands for fracking in Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Routt Counties in northwest Colorado.
The appeal squarely challenges President Trump’s climate denial and refusal to come clean with the American public on the consequences of more public lands fossil fuel production.
And it comes as the call for keeping fossil fuels in the ground is gaining major momentum. Just last month, economists released a peer-reviewed study concluding, yet again, that keeping oil, gas, and coal in the ground is a critical part of effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Here, the Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management isn’t just turning its back on the climate impacts of more fracking, it’s also turning a blind eye to the devastating regional impacts that oil and gas development is having on our clean air and water, our public lands, and fish and wildlife habitat.
While 59,000 acres are on the auction block in June, the Bureau of Land Management has sold thousands more acres in the same region and is also proposing thousands more at the same time in neighboring states.
In June 2017, more than 73,000 acres of public lands were auctioned away for fracking in the same region of northwest Colorado. And last December, 94,000 acres of public lands just over the border in Utah were auctioned away. And unbelievably, this June and December, the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to sell nearly 900,000 acres of public lands for fracking just over the border in Wyoming.
Click the map below or click here to see exactly where this oil and gas leasing has occurred and is proposed.
It’s a lie that’s made worse by the fact that the agency is ignoring the regionwide impacts of handing over all of these public lands to the oil and gas industry.
In its plans to lease this June in Colorado, the agency completely ignores the fact that nearly one million acres of public lands have recently been sold and are planned to be sold in neighboring Utah and Wyoming.
Unfortunately, when it comes to air, water, and wildlife, political boundaries between states are completely irrelevant, something the Bureau of Land Management seems oblivious to.
Adding insult to the impending injury, there is absolutely no need to lease any more public lands to the oil and gas industry right now. According to the Bureau of Land Management itself, only 46%, meaning less than half, of all leased public lands acres are currently producing oil and gas.
The upcoming oil and gas lease sale in Colorado, as well as sales in other western states, only stands to lock up our public lands, fuel industry speculation, and keep our climate, our air and water, and our wildlife in danger.
It’s nothing short of a de facto privatization scheme being perpetrated by the Trump Administration. And with millions of acres on the auction block, we stand to lose big. Given the stakes, we can’t afford not to keep fighting back.