Public Lands In Montana Scheduled for Oil and Gas Lease Sale Deferred
Contact: Becca Fischer, (406) 698-1489, email@example.com
Denver – Today, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke announced the removal of 26 parcels, totaling 17,300 acres, of federal public lands from an upcoming oil and gas lease sale scheduled for March 13, 2018. Secretary Zinke and the Montana Bureau of Land Management also announced the deferral on Twitter.
“We are grateful that Secretary Zinke is listening to our concerns and to the concerns of the local citizens in Livingston and along the Beartooth Front,” said Becca Fischer, a Climate Guardian with WildEarth Guardians. “These areas rely heavily on tourism and would be devastated by oil and gas leasing. The next step is to provide permanent protection for these areas as well as for the rest of Montana. This area is not safe yet.”
The Bureau of Land Management’s March 13th oil and gas lease sale still includes 46,200 acres of public lands, including one parcel directly next to the Upper Missouri River Breaks Monument.
Other areas across Montana have also seen extensive oil and gas leasing. A December BLM oil and gas lease sale in Montana sold 197 out of 204 parcels in the iconic Tongue River Valley in southeastern Montana in the competitive and noncompetitive sales. The BLM is also proposing to auction off 102,814 acres at the June 2018 lease sale.
In January, WildEarth Guardians, along with Livingston-based Park County Environmental Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, Montana Environmental Information Center, Northern Plains Resource Council, Protect the Beartooth Front, 350 Montana, and a number of Livingston-area landowners, filed a protest against Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke’s plans to sacrifice 63,000 acres of federal public land in the area. The BLM has yet to make a decision on Guardian’s protest of the rest of the March parcels.
The pace of federal public lands giveaways to the oil and gas industry is drastically increasing in 2018. In 2017, the BLM auctioned off more than a million acres of public lands for fracking in six Western states. The BLM’s lease sales for the first half of 2018 in those same states
already total 1 million acres. Zinke seems determined to do anything he can to give our public lands and resources to developers with little to no mitigation for the very real harms that come with development.