The Fight for Our Public Lands, Wildlife and Economies Begins

Ryan Zinke, a now former Congressman from Montana, has just been confirmed to lead the Department of Interior.  He has a lifetime record of voting against the environment 96% of the time. His confirmation jeopardizes the future of our public lands, and the people, wildlife, and economies that depend on them.

Zinke’s answers to questions during the confirmation process provide insight into how he envisions the Department of Interior will manage millions of acres of federal lands and the natural resources under and on our wild places. When asked if humans have contributed to climate change, he questioned whether we are the driving force. When asked about protecting public lands, he refused to commit to keeping dirty fuels in the ground. He even said that the recent designation of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, lands that are sacred to five Native American tribes with ancestral and spiritual ties to these lands, was one of the “pending problems we need to address quickly.”

Our public lands allow us to experience the majesty of the great outdoors, learn about our country’s history, and honor those whose cultural history dates back millennia. It’s now become imperative that we step up and fight so that future generations can enjoy these places, too.

Further Reading:

Over One Million Voices Signed On to Protect Our Public Lands

— by David Turnbull, Oil Change International

Our public lands are our lands, held and maintained by the Government in trust for the public at large, not the goliath corporations. And in support of that premise, over the last few weeks, we’ve seen some AMAZING response to our petitions to protect our public lands to prevent corporations from fracking our public natural resources. Over a million people from around the country came together to push for protecting our public lands from fracking. Oil Change International, along with our partners in the American’s Against Fracking Coalition, delivered comments from citizens all across our country directly to the White House and Bureau of Land Management in Washington D.C.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures from the event, showing the power of this coalition coming together:

This campaign was a landmark moment in the fight to protect our communities from the dangers of fracking and is already having an impact. The coalition started with a goal of gathering 200,000 comments and ended up with over a million, including over 600,000 calling for an outright ban of fracking on public lands. This is the largest number of comments calling for a fracking ban ever submitted to the Obama Administration.

It’s actions like this – and people like you – that will help us reclaim our democracy from the grip of the fossil fuel industry. So, we simply wanted to say: Thank you. Thank you for standing up, for raising your voices with us, and for demanding better from our leaders.

Together we’re pushing back against corporate influence and making sure our elected leaders know who they’re accountable to: the people they represent, not rich polluters. We’ll be watching the Bureau of Land management closely to make sure our public lands (and all lands) are protected from fracking and other fossil fuels.

Rest assured there will be more fights against dirty fossil fuels, but thanks to your recent efforts, we’ve now got an even stronger foundation.

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Oil Change International campaigns to expose the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitate the coming transition towards clean energy. We are dedicated to identifying and overcoming barriers to that transition.

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Protect Arches and Canyonlands from Fracking

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is on the verge of opening over 80,000 acres of land just miles from Arches and Canyonlands national parks to the dangerous new method of oil and gas drilling called fracking.

Despite the clear danger to these precious national treasures, and serious concerns over nearby Moab’s drinking water, BLM is moving forward with a February oil and gas lease auction without even preparing an environmental impact statement to determine the full consequences.1

BLM should be protecting precious places like Arches and Canyonlands, not blindly paving the way for oil and gas companies to endanger them.

Tell the Bureau of Land Management: Don’t frack near Arches National Park.

This lease sale would open the area to fracking, a radical new method of oil and gas drilling that involves injecting huge amounts of water, chemicals, and sand deep underground to fracture rocks. Fracking contaminates groundwater, pollutes the air, and generates millions of gallons of toxic, radioactive wastewater.2 If this lease sale moves forward, Arches and Canyonlands could forever be transformed by this invasive practice.

Fracking requires the full-scale industrialization of the entire surrounding region, including a vast transport network of pipelines and compressor stations venting toxic air pollution, and open pits to store poisonous wastewater. Each fracking well also requires thousands of visits by diesel trucks hauling water, sand and toxic chemicals.

And it isn’t just the national parks that are at risk. Moab’s geology makes it uniquely susceptible to water contamination, and Congress never completed a comprehensive groundwater study of Moab’s aquifer, so the frackers would be drilling blind.3 Plus, they’re not considering the impact an earthquake caused by fracking activities will have on our national parks.

Moab’s economy depends on the tourism industry, which can only suffer from an invasion by the fracking industry, which will poison water, and transform unique, precious desert landscapes. Two of America’s great natural beauties would be spoiled by an industry that leaves ruin its wake.

Tell the Bureau of Land Management: Don’t frack near Arches National Park.

1. Christopher Smart, “Potential for ‘fracking’ near Moab raises drinking water concerns,”The Salt Lake Tribune, August 30, 2012
2. “Hydraulic Fracturing 101,” Earthworks
3. Kristin Mills, “Oil and gas parcels raise water Qs,” Moab Sun News, August 29, 2012