Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 12, 2018

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

Feds' Massive Utah Fracking Plan Threatens Sage Grouse, Public Lands  

SALT LAKE CITY— The Trump administration wants to auction off 388 square miles of public lands for fracking in six Utah counties, including more than 17,000 acres of greater sage-grouse habitat that the government’s own science advisors say should be off limits to leasing.

Under new Trump administration policies limiting public input, people have only until April 16 to comment on this vast fracking plan.

“Each new fracking lease in sage-grouse habitat brings this charismatic bird closer to extinction and threatens hundreds of other species,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration won’t let protecting America’s imperiled wildlife get in the way of fossil fuel industry profits.”

Sage-grouse success also benefits pronghorn, elk, golden eagle, native trout and nearly 200 other bird species. Over the past 200 years land conversion, oil and gas drilling, and livestock grazing have cut the grouse’s range in half, causing steady population declines.

In 2011 the Bureau of Land Management convened sage-grouse scientists to create land-management strategies to recover greater sage-grouse populations in 10 western states. The bureau rejected scientists’ call to completely close priority habitats to oil and gas leasing, opting instead to prioritize leases outside of habitats. That policy was built into nearly 100 federal resource-management plans in 2015.

Under Trump the BLM has ignored the policy, offering more than 744,000 acres of priority habitat for oil and gas leasing. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed gutting the 2015 plans’ already weak protections, opening the door to more fossil fuel development in the imperiled bird’s habitat.

“Trump’s zeal for fracking and drilling will dramatically industrialize our public lands, making them unrecognizable,” said McKinnon. “Sage grouse, pronghorn and songbirds will be the victims of this onslaught.”

The Utah fracking plan spans a wide swath of the state, from its northern border toward national parks and monuments in the south. It includes wilderness-quality land proposed for protection in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and public lands within 10 miles of Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

A Center analysis of federal oil and gas data shows that the public land to be offered in September contains about 3.8 million barrels of oil and 22.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Developing those fossil fuels would result in the same amount of greenhouse gas pollution as driving a passenger car 7.4 billion miles — about 300,000 trips around the Earth.

Greater sage grouse

Greater sage grouse by Bob Wick, BLM. This image is available for media use.

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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