President’s ‘energy first’ agenda means vast tracts of public land up for sale – without proper consultation, critics say
Democrats and conservatives alike are decrying moves by the Trump administration to permit oil and gas drilling near national parks and in wildlife migration corridors, and charge that the public is not being adequately consulted.
Officials from the US interior department are pursuing an “energy first” agenda, and some 2.9m acres are up for lease auction, including many parcels close to recreation areas such as Petrified Forest national park in Arizona, Chaco Culture national historical park in New Mexico, and Dinosaur national monument in Colorado.
An auction this week in Utah sold leases within 10 miles of Canyonlands national park, in addition to tracts near Glen Canyon national recreation area. Utah, which has been a hotbed of public lands debate since Trump shrank the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments, holds quarterly lease auctions. This quarter alone saw 200,000 acres up for auction, and stakeholders expect next quarter’s auction to be of a much greater scale.