Climate + Energy

More Western Public Lands Are Leased to The Oil and Gas Industry Than Are in National Parks

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We just put together a new online interactive map showing where public lands oil and gas leases are located in the states of Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, click on the image above or here to access it.

This map is based on data gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and graciously made available by Rocky Mountain Wild, you can download it yourself here if you’d like >>

These interior western states are where the vast majority of our public lands have been leased for fracking in the lower 48.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 20.7 million acres of our public lands have been leased to the oil and gas industry in these states, representing more than 80% of all leased federal minerals outside of Alaska (and to be clear this represents “onshore” oil and gas, not offshore).

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To put this figure into perspective, within the States of Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, only 7.6 million acres are protected as National Parks, Monuments, or other National Park Service areas.

This means that for every one acre of our public lands protected by the National Park Service, nearly three acres are in the hands of the oil and gas industry.  

National Parks and Leased Public Lands

And given that the issuance of a federal lease conveys a right for industry to develop, it basically means that huge swaths of the American West have been committed to sacrifice by oil and gas companies.

That’s not okay. Even outside our National Parks, our public lands hold amazing and irreplaceable national treasures. Special places abound, even if they’re not formally protected yet.

Which is why WildEarth Guardians is sounding the alarms over Trump Administration plans to lease even more of our public lands to the oil and gas industry. So far, more than 2.2 million acres of new leasing has been proposed with more to come by year’s end.

This new leasing isn’t just handing over more of our public lands to oil and gas companies, it’s putting a ton of amazing landscapes at risk, including Wyoming’s Red Desert, where more than 900,000 million acres of new leasing is proposed.


Oregon Buttes

Potential Wilderness Areas in Wyoming’s Red Desert, including the Oregon Buttes Wilderness Study Area above, are threatened by a barrage of new oil and gas leasing proposals by the Trump Administration. Photo by Erik Molvar. Learn more about the Red Desert from the Wyoming Wilderness Association, check out their interactive map >> 

We’re taking action to defend the Red Desert and other places in the American West. If you haven’t already, you can join the resistance, send a letter today to defend pubic lands in New Mexico near Carlsbad Caverns National Park and to protect public lands in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains.

And stay tuned for more opportunities to take action as we push back to defend our western public lands. They shouldn’t be sold for fracking, they should be protected for future generations.

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