Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 1, 2018

Contact:  Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414,

Trump Guts Environmental Review in Radical Overhaul of Public Lands Oil, Gas Leasing

WASHINGTON— The Trump administration is radically restructuring oil and gas leasing on public lands to sharply expand fracking industry access while eliminating environmental protections and narrowing public participation.

A new Bureau of Land Management memorandum aims to eliminate public review and disclosure of environmental harm from drilling and fracking and restrict BLM from taking land off the auction block even if those lands contain sensitive resources and wildlife habitat. BLM also wants to eliminate Obama-era master leasing plans, which are intended to steer development away from sensitive lands, and give the public just 10 days to protest a lease sale.

“It’s deeply disturbing that the Trump administration wants to give fossil fuel companies free rein over our public lands without community input or analysis of environmental harms,” said Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump clearly puts profits ahead of public health, wildlife and wild places. But these changes won’t speed up oil and gas leasing. They’ll result in rushed, ill-considered, illegal decisions that will be overturned in court.”

The BLM would eliminate environmental and public review of leasing decisions, required under the National Environmental Policy Act, by expanding use of “Determinations of NEPA adequacy.” Those cursory reviews presume lease sales comply with broader management plans. This sidesteps the law and eliminates public notice or input, as well as any disclosure of harm from fracking to communities, wildlife, climate, lands and water.

The memo also pressures BLM staff to offer all lands nominated by the oil and gas industry at auction, reversing BLM’s long-established discretion to defer parcels from lease auctions when there are environmental concerns. Approval from the bureau’s Washington, D.C. office is now required before parcels can be pulled from auctions. 

Master leasing plans help guide the location of oil and gas development to reduce harm to endangered species, wildlife habitat, recreational lands, air, water and communities. They are eliminated under the new BLM policies.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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