Federal Leasing of Public Lands for Drilling Accelerating

According to a recent report in The New York Times, the Trump Administration is auctioning off millions of acres of public lands for drilling rights to oil and gas developers.

The price of oil has been rising from $26 bbl just a few years ago to almost $80 bbl in 2018.  In this, large energy companies like Chesapeake, Chevron, Shell and others see profits looming on the horizon if they can get the rights to drill in vast areas of public lands now under the control of the federal government.

In the fiscal year ending September 30, more than 12.8 million acres of federally controlled land were auctioned off for drilling.

Again, this points up the need not to be distracted by shiny objects.  Yes, the politics of personal destruction and fear and hate mongering, as now practiced, can certainly distract us.  But we must not be lured to look away from the actual policies and actions of the current federal administration.  When oil prices were lower, and when the previous administration was tightening up at least some environmental regulations, the trend was less and less drilling.  But now the trend is moving in the opposite direction.

The Times article also points out that the federal government is sharing its lease windfalls with several of the western states, thus winning over many of these state governments to press for even more leasing and drilling.  It’s apparently part of a strategy of enlisting as many forces as possible to dismantle environmental protections.

Once these lands are exploited for mineral extraction, we will be hard-pressed to ever be able to restore them.  This legacy to us from generations before us stands now at risk of not being passed on to future generations, to say nothing about the impacts on climate change and loss of biodiversity.