The federal Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently proposed revised oil and gas regulations to cover high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on public lands, Indian lands, and private lands overlying federal minerals. In addition to coming disturbingly late in the game – BLM estimates that approximately 90% of new natural gas wells drilled on federal and Indian lands are fracked – the proposed regulations are woefully inadequate. For example, the regulations would allow the storage of fracking waste in open pits, which can lead to air and water pollution. In a case in Kentucky documented by the U.S. Geological Survey, fracking effluent overflowed storage pits, running into a local waterway and killing significant fish populations.
According to BLM, there are currently almost 36 million acres of public lands under lease for potential oil and gas development. While most of the lands under BLM’s jurisdiction are located in the western United States, several states in the eastern U.S., including New York, contain pockets of federal and/or Indian lands.
Riverkeeper joined dozens of organizations and thousands of concerned citizens in opposing fracking on public lands and calling out the substantial flaws in BLM’s proposed regulations. We also joined more than a dozen organizations urging BLM to fully analyze the environmental effects of its proposed regulations, including the effects of additional fracking and natural gas production. The petition and comments opposing BLM’s inadequate fracking regulations which we joined others in supporting are linked below.
Joint technical comments prepared by Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Clean Air Task Force, Clean Water Action, and Center for Effective Government on behalf of more than two dozen organizations.