Trump Administration Will Open Millions More Acres of Public Lands to Oil and Gas Drilling

Photo: Monica Medina

The Trump Administration announced that it intends to open tens of millions of acres of national forest land for oil and gas drilling, and they will not evaluate whether the areas being opened will cause any environmental impacts, nor will they give the public advance notice, The Hill reports.  The Bureau of Land Management, which handles lease sales, will be allowed to move forward with sales on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture without regard to their environmental consequences in order to minimize the “red” tape and reduce redundancies in the government, under a new proposed rule published today.

Why This Matters:  The Trump team seems to be speeding up their desperate efforts to help fossil fuels as the first (and hopefully only) term nears an end.  There is no economic or national security rationale for this.  The lease sales they are doing now are attracting fewer and fewer bidders.  And it is essentially a give away since they are reducing the royalty payments they are supposed to collect.  There is plenty of oil and gas on the market.  And fewer lenders are willing to underwrite the cost of these new oil and gas facilities.

Big Oil Requested This Change

James Osbourne of The Houston Chronicle reports that “In 2018, the American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Producers of America wrote to the federal government recommending a series of changes at the Forest Service, including a review of its land management plans.”  One of their requests, apparently, was better “coordination” over leases sales between the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management at the Interior Department that actually conducts the sales.  Osbourne writes that the “oil and gas industry has long lobbied for changes to rules governing oil and gas drilling in federal forests and grasslands.”  The Forest Service has 190 million acres of land under its jurisdiction and control.

Environmental Groups Pledged To Fight It

“This proposal would basically make the Forest Service a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry,” Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a release that The Hill picked up. “We face accelerating climate change, fire and drought, and the last thing we should be doing is making it easier to auction off our irreplaceable national forests for destructive drilling and fracking.”

What You Can Do: Let the Department of Agriculture know you object to the rule change by sending an email via the Federal eRulemaking Portal here  — once you click, then in the Search box that pops up enter 0596-AD33, which is the identification number for this proposed rule.

Up Next

Indigenous Communities File Suit Against Ecuadorian Government to Protect Amazon

Indigenous Communities File Suit Against Ecuadorian Government to Protect Amazon

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Earlier this year, Ecuador’s new President Guillermo Lasso issued decrees to expand oil and mining projects in the Amazon. Indigenous communities from the country’s rainforest are now suing the government in an effort to stop these projects, calling them a “policy of death,” according to reporting by Reuters. Community […]

Continue Reading 320 words
Giant Sequoias Threatened by California Fires 

Giant Sequoias Threatened by California Fires 

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The giant sequoia trees in California’s Sequoia National Park are over 1,000 years old and could live another 2,000 years, but climate change-fueled fires are killing them. The trees can usually withstand the flames, but the intensity of recent fires has been overpowering. Last year’s Castle Fire killed up […]

Continue Reading 385 words
Amazonian Communities Urge International Action & Amazon.com Invests in Restoration

Amazonian Communities Urge International Action & Amazon.com Invests in Restoration

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor As wildfires and deforestation grip the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous communities are urging world governments to pledge to protect 80% of the forest by 2025. The groups launched their campaign at a biodiversity conference in France, where experts from around the world are laying the groundwork for the UN’s delayed […]

Continue Reading 441 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.