Washington, D.C. — The national advocacy group Food & Water Watch has ramped up pressure on the federal government to act in the public interest, calling on Congress to introduce legislation to ban fracking on all federal and Native American lands. Last year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released proposed rules for drilling and fracking on public lands, which have not yet been finalized.
“The BLM is making a mockery of its mission to steward public land for the use and enjoyment of future generations,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “If President Obama is not courageous enough to ensure that the agency sticks to its mission, Congress needs to intervene. Public lands should be protected for today and tomorrow, not rented to the oil and gas industry for their short-term profits.”
As part of its effort to protect federal lands from fracking, Food & Water Watch also compiled a list of national parks most affected by oil and gas development. The list includes: Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania; Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, Utah; Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park, Florida; Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico; Finger Lakes National Forest, New York; George Washington National Forest, Virginia; Glacier National Park, Montana; Los Padres National Forest, California; Kings Canyon National Park & Sequoia National Park, California; and Shawnee National Forest, Illinois.
Last August, a coalition of nearly 300 environmental and consumer organizations submitted over half a million petitions to the BLM, urging it to protect public lands from drilling and fracking. Despite these comments, President Obama’s administration continues to pursue fracking on federal lands around the United States.
Some 38 million acres of BLM land is currently leased, and over the past three years, the oil and gas industry has drilled over three thousand new wells, 90 percent of which have been (or will be) fracked, threatening air quality and the health and safety of surrounding communities in 27 states.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability (GAO) office, the BLM “is responsible for ensuring that these [oil and gas] resources are developed in a timely, economically efficient, and environmentally sound manner.” The BLM currently oversees 100,000 oil and gas wells on public lands. Yet, a recent GAO report found that the BLM is unable to adequately uphold responsibility. The Associated Press recently reported that the agency has failed to inspect 4 in 10 new oil and gas wells deemed by well operators as “high-risk” for environmental damage and water contamination.
Furthermore, according to Cornell University scientists, newer oil and gas wells drilled between 2000 and 2012 are more likely to leak methane, a greenhouse gas that is 86 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame, than older ones.
“No amount of regulations could prevent the inherently dangerous effects of fracking. Public lands should stay in public hands,” said Hauter.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.