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WildEarth Guardians Condemns Sale of Public Lands For Fracking

December 11, 2018
Jeremy Nichols (303) 437-7663, jnichols@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
Denver, CO—WildEarth Guardians is condemning the Trump Administration’s climate denial and intent to sell public lands in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming to the oil and gas industry this month.

“Our public lands are being liquidated for fracking, opening the door for more climate pollution and more destruction of the American West,” said Becca Fischer, Climate and Energy Program Attorney for WildEarth Guardians.  “The Administration’s blatant disregard and denial of the reality of climate change stands as an affront to all Americans who are shouldering its costs.”

Through online auctions, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management expects to auction away nearly 300,000 acres of public lands throughout the American West in December 2018.

The sales would open the door for expanded oil and gas drilling and fracking, unleashing more carbon pollution at a time when climate scientists are calling for urgent action to curtail fossil fuels and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last week, the Bureau sold nearly 90,000 acres of lands in New Mexico, including lands in the culturally significant Greater Chaco region, a move that generated widespread protest and controversy.

Today, December 11, the agency intends to sell 33,000 acres in Nevada, 12,500 acres in Montana, 720 acres in Wyoming, and 154,000 acres in Utah.

On Thursday, December 13, the agency intends to auction additional lands in Colorado, as well as lands in the eastern states of Michigan, Mississippi, and Ohio.

The sales come on the heels of the release of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which sounded fresh alarms over the costs of climate change and the need for, “immediate and substantial global greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”

At the same time, the U.S. Geological Survey released its latest assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the production and consumption of fossil fuels from public lands.

All told, the report found coal, oil, and gas extracted from American public lands contributes to nearly 25% of all U.S. climate pollution. Oil and gas production, including onshore and offshore, accounts for more than 540 million metric tons annually, equal to the emissions from more than 130 coal-fired power plants.

Taken together, these latest reports confirm that restraining oil and gas production from pubic lands is critical for safeguarding the climate.

“The reality is, we have to start keeping our fossil fuels in the ground,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director.  “Given the state of our climate, the costs we’re enduring, and the certainty of the science, it’s unconscionable that we would allow more oil and gas development on our public lands.”

WildEarth Guardians and others are relentlessly confronting the Trump Administration’s sale of public lands for fracking.

Together with partners at the Western Environmental Law Center, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, and others, we’ve filed comments, appeals, and litigation to block the Administration’s plans.

In spite of some success, including the withdrawal of thousands of acres of public lands in Colorado from a proposed auction, the Administration’s “Energy Dominance” agenda is spurring an unprecedented sale of public lands, even in iconic western landscapes.

All told in 2018, more than 3.8 million acres of public lands in the American West are being put on the auction block for oil and gas development, an area three times the size of Grand Canyon National Park.

Other Contact
Becca Fischer, WildEarth Guardians, (406) 698-1489, rfischer@wildearthguardians.org