The Bureau of Land Management quietly dismantled the lease parcel review process, silencing the public and making it easier for the Trump Administration and the Department of the Interior to hand over public lands to the oil and gas industries.
In response to yesterday’s action, The Wilderness Society issued the following statement from Nada Culver, Senior Counsel and Director, BLM Action Center:
“The BLM’s new approach to oil and gas leasing on our public lands is tantamount to “see no evil” – ignoring the real concerns of the public and affected communities, and refusing to even look at where lands are and what values they have. In this new process, public participation is optional, as is environmental review of lease parcels and even site visits – and none are encouraged or acknowledged for the vital information they provide before lands are given away to oil and gas companies. The clear direction is to issue as many leases as possible, as quickly as possible, without considering resource conflicts or the desires of local communities. Once again, our public lands and the people who live near them and recreate on them are paying the price for so-called “energy dominance”.
This is especially distressing given the circumstances that led up to reforms of the BLM’s oil and gas leasing program, which are effectively rescinded through this new policy. In December 2008, a court formally prohibited the Bureau of Land Management from issuing 77 leases sold in Utah, and in doing so found the agency’s decision-making process for issuing oil and gas issues to be fundamentally broken. Under the Trump administration’s new leasing policy, the BLM is on a fast track to returning to an unsustainable oil and gas program.”
The expedited leasing process comes less than 24 hours before the Interior Department is set to remove protections from new leasing and mining claims in over two million acres of national monuments.