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Nearly 300,000 Acres Slated to be Sold to Oil and Gas Industry in Montana, Nevada, Utah
Denver—In spite of intense opposition, President Trump’s U.S. Bureau of Land Management is moving ahead today and tomorrow to auction off nearly 300,000 acres of public lands in Montana, Nevada, and Utah for fracking.
“President Trump is sadly pulling out all the stops to put our public lands into the hands of the oil and gas industry,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “Not only are we losing landscapes, we’re losing wildlife habitat, our ability to secure a clean energy future, and our means of safeguarding the climate.”
The Bureau of Land Management is putting 23,613 acres in southern Utah, 69,056 acres in southeastern Montana, and 195,613 acres in central Nevada up for sale to the oil and gas industry today and tomorrow.
Throughout internet-based auctions, the agency intends to hand over the rights for the oil and gas industry to drill, frack, and develop the lands however they see fit. In practice, selling public lands to industry effectively hands over control to private companies.
In many cases, public lands are auctioned off to the oil and gas industry for as little as $2.00 per acre, the minimum bid allowed.
“This is nothing short of a public lands giveaway,” said Nichols. “It confirms that for the Trump Administration, the demands of the oil and gas industry come before the needs of the American people.”
The lease sales come amid growing protests over the Bureau of Land Management’s sale of public lands for fracking. WildEarth Guardians filed appeals of the agency’s plans, seeking to defend Montana, Nevada, and Utah public lands from fracking.
The appeals challenged the failure of the agency to account for the climate implications of authorizing more fossil fuel extraction from public lands. A report from The Wilderness Society found that oil and gas produced from public lands accounts for 10% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2016, WildEarth Guardians filed suit over the failure of the Bureau of Land Management to limit oil and gas production to protect the climate. That suit is moving forward in federal court. If successful, it will call into question the legal validity of this weeks oil and gas sales in Montana, Nevada, and Utah.