The Trump Administration has announced a proposal to sell 4,200 acres of public, protected land in northern Arizona for oil and gas development. The area in question crosses the Little Colorado River and is located only three miles from Petrified Forest National Park. It also is close to the habitat for the Little Colorado spinedace, a threatened species of fish. Oil and gas industrial activity, such as fracking, could also threaten the groundwater in the Little Colorado River Basin, potentially affecting drinking water. In September, the Bureau of Land Management is planning to auction the land to the highest bidder, without sufficient environmental and public review.
The Center for Biological Diversity is pushing back against the Trump Administration as it advances its pro-industry agenda. “This dangerous plan puts national parks, precious groundwater and wildlife in the crosshairs. We’ll do everything we can to stop it,” said Taylor McKinnon at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Fracking is a dirty, dangerous business that consumes enormous amounts of water and threatens wildlife and public health. Northern Arizonans won’t tolerate public lands being sacrificed as gifts from Trump to the fossil fuel industry.”
Under guidelines issued in January 2018 by the Trump Administration, the Bureau of Land Management has made several assumptions in its approval process and has delayed any detailed analysis until the drilling permit stage. At that point, the site will already have been sold for oil and gas development. “Fracking or drilling development could be catastrophic for the region’s groundwater,” McKinnon said. “This is Trump’s energy dominance policy at work, where nothing matters except fossil-fuel interests.”
The Center for Biological Diversity previously sued the Trump Administration for its expedited oil and gas development policy in Colorado and Ohio, and sued once again in April after the administration enacted a more widespread policy of sidelining the public interest at the Bureau of Land Management.