National Forest System Threatened by Another Trump Oil and Gas Giveaway

Photo: BLM.

America’s National Forests and Grasslands would get fracked with the latest rollback

Denver. The Trump administration today proposed to gut regulations governing oil and gas extraction on National Forest System Lands, threatening to strip away authority that for years has given the U.S. Forest Service the ability to safeguard clean air and water, public lands, and health across America’s forests.

“This rule is nothing but an affront to everyone who values public lands, clean water, wildlife habitat, a safe climate, and a healthy environment,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “There is no need for this rule, no imperative, and no urgency. It is simply a pure giveaway of public lands to the oil and gas industry.”

The proposed rules are the latest attempt by the Trump administration to weaken, rollback, and decimate regulations to make it easier for the oil and gas industry to buy up and frack public lands in the United States.

While billed as an “improvement” by the Trump administration, the rules would undermine environmental protections, limit public notice and input, and most importantly, strip the Forest Service of its authority to say “no” to selling National Forest System lands for fracking. Specifically, the new rules rule would:

Reduce public input and transparency by removing the requirement that a Forest Service office give public notice of the decision to approve a Surface Use Plan of Operations, the specific plan for development.

Allow the Forest Service to skip important and necessary environmental reviews for leasing decisions. This, together with other administration roll backs of NEPA regulations, undermines that law’s role in good forest management.

Make it more difficult for the Forest Service to stop bad lease sales by removing explicit confirmation of USFS consent as a standard step in the leasing process.

Remove environmental considerations as criteria for decisions to approve plans.

Loosen the rules by giving developers unbounded discretion to extend deadlines and comply with operating standards. Currently, compliance deadlines can only be extended if the operator cannot meet them due to factors out of their control.

Limit the Forest Service to only protect specific, named natural resources and ignore opportunities to address climate change or protect vital wild places.

For years, WildEarth Guardians has relied on current regulations to ensure protection of public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, including the Pawnee National Grassland of Colorado, Fishlake National Forest of Utah, Ashley National Forest of Utah, and Carson National Forest in New Mexico.

“To protect our climate, public lands, clean air and water, and fish and wildlife, fracking should be banned on the National Forest System,” said Nichols. “While the Trump administration is attacking National Forests, we will relentlessly fight back and not give up until every acre of public lands is off-limits to the oil and gas industry.”

Contact: Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 437-7663,