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Trump Selling Lands Next to Rocky Mountain National Park; Nearly 125,000 Acres of Western U.S. Public Lands to be Auctioned to Oil and Gas Industry
Denver—Moving to defend the climate and cherished public lands in the American West, including Rocky Mountain National Park, WildEarth Guardians yesterday filed appeals to overturn President Trump’s plans to give away public lands for fracking in Colorado and Utah.
“President Trump is wasting no time taking public lands from Americans and giving them to oil and gas industry executives,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “Make no mistake, we’re going to do everything we can to thwart this scheme to sacrifice our climate, our clean air and water, and our public lands birthright for short-sighted fracking.”
In western Colorado, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is proposing to auction off more than 100,000 acres of public lands in June to the oil and gas industry. These include 27,000 acres of lands in Grand County along the headwaters of the Colorado River, less than five miles from Rocky Mountain National Park.
Also in June, nearly 25,000 acres of public lands in central Utah are slated for giveaway to the oil and gas industry, including lands next to the Fishlake and Manti-La Sal National Forests.
WildEarth Guardians late yesterday filed appeals (called “protests” by the Bureau of Land Management) calling for the cancellation of these public lands auctions.
These lands stand to be auctioned off by the Bureau of Land Management for as little as $1.50 an acre. While touted by industry as needed for oil and gas production, the reality is, companies are not even producing form the majority of public lands they’ve acquired over the years.
In Colorado, there is no oil and gas development even occurring in Grand County. Local leaders even called on the Bureau of Land Management to abandon its proposed sale of public lands for fracking, highlighting concerns over the impacts of oil and gas production to the local outdoor-based economy, water quality, and way of life.
In Utah, nearly 16,000 acres are proposed for sale in Piute and Garfield Counties in the Sevier Plateau area. There are currently no producing oil and gas wells in this area.
According to most recent statistics from the Bureau of Land Management, only 39% of all public lands in Utah sold for oil and gas development are actually producing and only 50% of lands in Colorado are producing.
“This isn’t about jobs or energy independence, this is a land grab, pure and simple,” said Nichols. “The oil and gas industry is just looking to pad its assets, acquiring and controlling our public lands so it can frack at will at our expense.”
The leases come as the Trump Administration has so far sold and is planning to sell nearly a million acres of public lands for fracking throughout the American West. These include more lands in Colorado and Utah, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wyoming.
In 2016, WildEarth Guardians filed suit challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s refusal to address the climate impacts of fracking on public lands. In its appeals filed yesterday, Guardians continued to challenge the agency for turning its back on the need to curtail carbon pollution.
“All the politics aside, climate change remains real,” added Nichols. “President Trump’s efforts to give away public lands to the oil and gas industry stands as an enormous threat to our public lands heritage and our climate.”
A map of the lands slated to be auctioned off by the Trump Administration in 2017, including maps of the Colorado and Utah lands targeted by WildEarth Guardians, is available here >>