Interior Department to reconsider fracking across 4 million acres of Western U.S.

In a win for our climate, the Biden administration has agreed to reconsider oil and gas leasing across 4 million acres—more than 6,200 square miles!—of public lands in the Western United States.

The agreements result from a suite of groundbreaking climate lawsuits filed by WildEarth Guardians, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Western Environmental Law Center. You, your actions, and your financial support made this victory possible!

In three settlements upheld by a federal judge this month, the U.S. Department of the Interior agreed to reassess and reconsider more than 2,000 oil and gas leases in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

Most of these leases were approved by the Trump administration, which sought to sell as many acres of public lands as possible to the oil and gas industry. Under Trump, science and the law took a back seat to the greedy demands of Big Oil companies like Exxon and Chevron.

Our settlement stems from a landmark court ruling we secured in 2019, holding that the Interior Department illegally ignored the cumulative climate consequences of selling public lands for fracking.

When oil and gas leases are sold, it conveys a right for industry to develop, guaranteeing that more dirty fossil fuels will be extracted and burned, only to flood the atmosphere with more climate pollution. Fracking and associated development on public lands also threaten critical wildlife habitat and fragment ancient migration routes of pronghorn and mule deer.

After our 2019 court win, we sued AGAIN in 2020 and AGAIN in 2021, confronting the Trump administration’s absolute climate denial. In response to our pressure, the Biden administration has thankfully agreed to do the right thing.

But if we have any chance of confronting the climate crisis, we have to stop leasing public lands for fracking—which means we still have much work to do.

I know we will be in the courts again and again in the coming months and years to defend our climate, public lands, and wildlife habitat. This is where we need your help today.

Please support our Keep It in the Ground Fund with a gift of $50, $100, $250, or more—so we can build on this victory across 4 million acres!

Together we’ll keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground.

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About the Author

Jeremy Nichols | Former Climate and Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians

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