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Three Years of a Destructive Oil, Gas Leasing Agenda

'This is the wrong time and the wrong approach’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three years since the Trump administration launched its “energy dominance” doctrine, the costs for our lands, waters and wildlife have been steep. The National Wildlife Federation urged the Trump administration to revisit this dangerous, unbalanced management strategy amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"This policy was wrong-headed when it was announced three years ago, and it is particularly wrong now as our country faces a global pandemic. While Americans are busy dealing with the many ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, the administration continues to offer up new leases for oil and gas development that threaten wildlife habitat, our rivers and streams and cherished landscapes — all in the name of energy dominance,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at National Wildlife Federation. “This is the wrong time and the wrong approach. This unchecked assault on our public lands must stop. The administration needs to immediately hit the pause button for any new leases.”

Over the past three years, the Department of Interior has offered up close to 400 million acres of public lands and waters for oil and gas leasing — more than any other previous administration. Nearly 20 million of those acres are on western public lands. Many leases have been proposed in or near such cherished places as the Ruby Mountains in Montana, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, Canyonlands and the Sand Flats in Utah and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Those leases were eventually deferred after a huge public outcry, but deferred leases are often simply re-offered in future lease sales. 

Recent polling confirms that an overwhelming majority of Westerners are opposed to unchecked oil and gas leasing on our public lands. At a time when Americans are rightly focused on the impacts of COVID-19 — and when our energy security is not threatened — the administration needs to suspend future leasing and keep open any existing comment periods on current energy leasing proposals. The National Wildlife Federation has joined with a coalition of conservation groups asking for such a common-sense suspension during these extraordinary times.


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