Tag Archives: BLM lands

Fracking the commons: Why your public lands are under assault by oil and gas drilling

Note:  Take action to ban fracking on federal lands here.

– The GJEP Team

By Gloria Flora, August 5, 2013. Source: AlterNet

Photo: Ecoflight

Photo: Ecoflight

As a Forest Supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service in the 1990s, I put a 15-year moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front. I made this controversial decision because the ecosystems on the Front are irreplaceably rich and diverse, and because I’d witnessed first-hand the cultural connections (in spirit, mind, and body) that countless people both near and far had to this extraordinary place. The towering limestone cliffs, the wealth of wildlife, and the sheer wildnessresonate deeply with the human psyche, and have done so for countless generations for over ten thousand years.

I thought I’d seen the worst of the oil and gas industry during that battle: its death-grip on public agencies, its demand for ever more leases, and its running roughshod over drilling regulations with impunity. But some years later I learned about an insidious new threat from the fossil fuel industry—hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” In fracking, fluid is injected into underground shale formations to break them apart and release trapped natural gas (and increasingly, oil). Unfortunately, fracking fluid contaminates our water, fracked gas escapes into the atmosphere, and the breakneck pace of drilling for these low-quality wells wreak havoc on wildlife habitat and human communities alike.

In the early 2000s, fracking was mostly confined to the Southwest and seemed little more than a crazy, expensive, last-ditch effort to squeeze the last bits of gas out of old fields. But as the easy-to-get fossil fuels have been depleted, and as government subsidies for fossil fuels have increased, such last-ditch efforts have become the industry standard. Today, the battle I fought over the Rocky Mountain Front seems small in comparison to what the fossil fuel industry aims to do across the entire country with fracking, including on public lands.
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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Land Grabs, Oil, Water

This land is your land, this land is gas land

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project recognizes that describing so-called North America or the United States as ‘our land’ erases the history whereby the governments of the US, Canada and Mexico stole, and continue to steal, sovereign Indigenous territory across the continent.  This land is not our land, if we are beneficiaries of settler culture (read: Euro-Americans).  However, the below article provides important insight on the influence oil and gas companies have on the federal government.

-The GJEP Team

By Peter Rugh, July 17, 2013. Source: Waging Nonviolence

The Pinedale Anticline Natural Gas Field in central-west Wyoming lies on 80 percent federally owned land. Photo: Wikimedia / BLM

The Pinedale Anticline Natural Gas Field in central-west Wyoming lies on 80 percent federally owned land. Photo: Wikimedia / BLM

The Obama Administration has proposed new regulations for hydraulic fracturing on 756 million acres of public and tribal lands. The rules were written by the drilling industry and will be streamlined into effect by a new intergovernmental task force, established by the president, to promote fracking — a practice that has been linked to water poisoning, air pollution, methane emissions and, most recently, earthquakes. Environmentalists, many of whom are highly skeptical that fracking can even be regulated, hope to use a brief window for citizen participation in the rule approval process to leverage the growing anti-fracking movement.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — the government agency that manages the public lands in question — follows a dual and often conflicting mandate. Although it is charged with conserving lands for recreation and biological diversity, it must also ensure the commercial development of natural resources. The bureau tends to focus heavily on the latter part of its mission, and it has auctioned off public land for resource extraction, including oil and gas development, while following drilling regulations that were last updated in 1988, before fracking became a common practice.

“Under the old regulations, an operator would have to disclose non-routine techniques,” said BLM spokesperson Beverly Winston. “Now, hydraulic fracturing is routine, so nobody discloses it. It’s my understanding that probably 90 percent of wells on public lands use hydraulic fracturing.”

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Oil, Pollution, Water

Obama administration caves to fracking industry in new proposed rules

Note: While these newly proposed rules allow the fracking industry to essentially regulate itself, McFeeley’s analysis falls short at the end.  While we certainly “deserve better than rules that risk our most treasured places, our environment, and our health,” the health of land and communities won’t be protected without an outright ban on fracking.  No regulations will ever make a process that blasts a highly toxic chemical cocktail thousands of feet below the surface of the earth, despoiling millions of gallons of water along the way.

-The GJEP Team

By Matt McFeeley, May 16, 2013. Source: Switchboard

This afternoon, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released new proposed rules to govern fracking on publicly owned lands managed by the federal government. This includes wild places like National Forests and National Wildlife Refuges. But it also includes places that supply drinking water to millions of Americans – from larger municipal supplies like that of Washington, D.C., to private water wells (in cases where the federal government owns rights to the minerals below the surface of a homeowners’ property).

The new proposed rules are a significant step backwards even from the weak proposal the Administration released in May of 2012, and, if enacted, will allow fracking to continue to pose unacceptable risks to the environment and public health.

The new proposal is weaker than the previous proposal in a number of ways:

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydrofracking

Victory! Fracking foes in California win in court

By David R. Baker, April 8 2013. Source: The San Francisco Chonicle

Oil drillers hoping to access the Monterey Shale beneath the Hames Valley in Monterey County face a delay with a ruling that the land was leased without studying the risks of fracking. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Oil drillers hoping to access the Monterey Shale beneath the Hames Valley in Monterey County face a delay with a ruling that the land was leased without studying the risks of fracking. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Fracking opponents in California have won what may be their first victory in court, with a federal magistrate’s ruling that federal authorities broke the law when they leased land in Monterey and Fresno counties to oil drillers without studying the possible risks of hydraulic fracturing.

The decision, made public Sunday, will probably delay fracking on four sites leased by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2011.

U.S. Magistrate Paul Grewal with the U.S. District Court in San Jose ruled that the bureau did not properly assess the threat that fracking could pose to water and wildlife before selling the leases, some of which lie within the Salinas River watershed. He made clear that he was not ruling on the merits of fracking itself.

“Ultimately, BLM argues that the effects of fracking on the parcels at issue are largely unknown,” Grewal wrote, in a decision dated March 31. “The court agrees. But this is precisely why proper investigation was so crucial in this case.” Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Hydrofracking, Victory!, Water

US’s first tar sands mine stirs water, environmental fears out west

By David Hasemyer, Aug 16, 2012. Source: InsideClimate News

A Canadian company opens a test pit in Utah and could be running a sizeable mine by early 2014. But is there enough water to support the industry?

U.S. Oil Sands, a Canadian company, has leased about 32,000 acres in Utah for taU.S. Oil Sands, a Canadian company, has leased about 32,000 acres in Utah for tar sands mining. Photo: David Hasemyer, InsideClimate News

MOAB, UTAH—To the ancient Indians who roamed the Colorado Plateau in what is now eastern Utah, the black globs of sticky, smelly bitumen they picked up from the sandy soil mystified them so much they called the strange substance “rocks that burn.”

Today, the bitumen that fascinated the Indians for its mysterious quality of combustion is the focal point of a battle over whether bitumen—a thick, tarry substance also known as tar sands oil—should be mined in Utah, which harbors the nation’s largest oil sands deposits.

According to the Utah Geological Survey, about 25 billion barrels of bitumen are buried on state and federal land. If every drop of that oil was extracted, it would supply all the nation’s current oil needs for a little more than three years.

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Filed under Climate Change, Energy, Tar Sands, Water

Take Action to Support Tim DeChristopher: Sentencing on July 26

Tim DeChristopher’s sentencing has been delayed until July 26th. In March of this year, he was convicted of two felonies by a Salt Lake City federal judge for “interfering” in the illegal auctioning off of federal lands in Utah to the oil and gas industry.

On June 23rd, despite the judge’s last minute decision, we moved forward with our plans. In Salt Lake, we focused on workshops and trainings for our community and took on the task of rebuilding by volunteering some of our time to help dig up a garden for what will become Utah’s first net-zero school. Nationwide, we sent a clear message that Climate Justice will not be delayed, by inspiringsolidarity events in all federal district circuit courts – many of which were organized within a week!

On July 26th, we will be standing in solidarity with Tim – through song and street theatre, we will continue to call out our Justice Department for the unjust nature of this trial. But this time, we won’t stop there, because the real carbon criminals are still running free. And our communities are ready to take a stand against the oppressive fossil fuel industry.

As an ally, these are tangible ways for you to support our efforts from afar:


  • Goal: flood local press nationally in the 2 weeks leading up to the sentencing hearing
  • Narrative: what the people’s response to the persecution of a peaceful activist looks like
  • Talking points that you’ll find on our website (can be used as a guideline, or as inspiration)


  • Create national solidarity in all federal district circuits… again!
  • Demonstrate widespread network of support within our movement
  • Empower communities to make a statement against judicial and climate injustices
  • The real criminals are running free, unaccountable for their destructive behavior. The people respond: justice restoration is in progress

We have another incredible opportunity to stand together as a movement, to send a clear message to our government and its protected industry – we will not be intimidated. Our joy and resolve has expanded into love and outrage.

Here is the link to our formal call to action (which includes LTE template & talking points):


As well as a link to the Fully Informed Jury Association brochure (if you want to pass out flyers at your event):


And for Tim’s full story, I recommend reading Chris Hedges’ piece in Truth Dig:


Will you join our efforts, as we stand in solidarity with Tim and demand the healthy and just world that we all deserve?

Joyful, resolved, and never deterred,



National Organizer
Peaceful Uprising, Utah

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Energy, Land Grabs, Pollution