American landscapes being redrawn in rush to increase drilling and mining
A series of new maps by The Wilderness Society confirms the Trump administration’s rush to open public lands to drilling and mining is redrawing the American landscape. The maps are being released about a week before another round of public oil and gas lease sales and in concert with maps unveiled by The Guardian that are also drawn from TWS data.
The mapping and data project, called “Trump’s Land Grab” shows how in just two short years the administration has begun to radically alter the American landscape. Over 2017 and 2018, President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke have rolled back protections on 153 million acres of land and water that were conserved for cultural, ecological, and recreational reasons. To put that into perspective, the area is about the size of California and Washington combined.
“This is how Trump’s call for so-called energy dominance plan looks when put into practice,” said Jenny Kordick, TWS’ climate and energy advocacy director. “In service of special interests, the administration has pushed to open millions of acres to drilling and mining, even as polls say the it’s out of step with mainstream American values.”
The new maps show the dramatic shift from protecting land to putting it up for sale. Included in the most controversial conservation rollbacks by the administration so far are Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, millions of acres in Western Sage-Grouse habitat, the California desert, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Arctic Ocean, and the U.S. Coastline.
“President Trump is not only making rollbacks to wildland protections, he’s attacking some of the most vulnerable and wildest places imaginable,” Kordick said. “Many of these places are among the wildest lands in the contiguous United States. These are places that should be conserved for future generations and are simply too wild to drill.”
The TWS maps were released ahead of another quarter of Interior department onshore oil and gas lease sales occuring on December 12-13. Over three million acres will be auctioned to energy companies in addition to what has already been made available.