Public Lands Less Than a Mile from the Park on the Auction Block for September
Denver – WildEarth Guardians today called on the Trump Administration to back down from plans to auction public lands for fracking next to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico.
“Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a uniquely fragile area because of its geologic wonders and wildlife habitat,” said Becca Fischer, a Climate Guardian with WildEarth Guardians. “It’s shameful this Administration would let the oil and gas industry threaten such an irreplaceable natural treasure.”
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is proposing to auction off 197 parcels totaling nearly 71,000 acres of publicly-owned lands at its September 2018 lease sale. Of the lands nominated for auction, approximately 19,000 acres are located within 10 miles of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, with the closest parcel less than mile from the boundary of the park.
In detailed comments, Guardians conveyed concerns about allowing fracking so close to the park given the fragile geology and the need to protect recreational interests and air quality.
Last month, in response to intense public pressure from conservation groups and others, Zinke removed public lands in New Mexico near Chaco Canyon National Historical Park and in Montana near Yellowstone National Park from the auction block based on cultural and environmental concerns.
Despite this, the pace of public lands approved for leasing by the BLM continues to drastically increase in 2018. In 2017, the BLM auctioned off more than a million acres of public lands for fracking in six Western states. The BLM’s proposed lease sales for the first half of 2018 in those same states already total almost 1 million acres.
“Throughout the American West, President Trump and his Bureau of Land Management are sacrificing our public lands for fracking,” said Fischer. “Instead of defending our clean air, our climate, and our legacy of public lands, they’re selling it all out to the oil and gas industry.”
Multi-stage fracking coupled with horizontal drilling has opened up millions of acres of public land to intense industrialization. Fracking can mean thousands of semis tearing up rural roads and kicking up dust, massive increases in air pollution and greenhouse gases, and large-scale water consumption. There are also concerns about water contamination from frack fluids, earthquakes from wastewater disposal, and the social impacts on communities that result from an influx of new people.
Oil and gas leasing on federal public lands is also a major contributor to global warming in the United States. Leasing opens the door for oil and gas drilling and fracking, and more fossil fuel burning. Reports have found that 20% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to fossil fuel development from federal public lands and waters.
For an interactive map of the parcels see here: http://arcg.is/nq04e.