Leases would pollute air and water in Coconino aquifer, threaten river, habitat

Guardians and allies sued the Trump administration on July 15 for leasing 4,200 acres of public lands for oil and gas extraction in Arizona’s Little Colorado River basin without any new environmental review. The leases threaten to pollute air and water in the region’s most important aquifer, the Coconino; spill poison into the Little Colorado River, and damage habitat for endangered species.

Companies are targeting the Little Colorado River Valley for helium, oil, and gas development because of rising helium prices. A recent state permit for helium fracking on nearby lands authorized acid and other chemicals to be injected into rock layers within 150 feet of the Coconino aquifer, a critical regional water source. This “acid fracturing” uses higher concentrations of potent chemicals than conventional hydraulic fracking.

The leased lands also straddle the Little Colorado River and Silver Creek, home to two threatened species: the Little Colorado spinedace (a silvery minnow-like fish) and the yellow-billed cuckoo.

Read the press release.

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