Coalition Urges BLM to Cancel Lease Sales to Protect Water, Health and Environment
RENO, Nev.— Protesters wearing blue and carrying water jugs will rally outside the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office in Reno on Tuesday morning to protest the auction of fracking leases on public lands. The auction of over 150,000 acres in Lincoln and Nye counties in BLM’s Ely District will begin at 9 a.m. at the BLM Nevada State Headquarters building located at 1340 Financial Boulevard in Reno. Frack-Free Nevada and Nevadans Against Fracking, which is organizing the protest, is calling on the BLM to cancel the sale in order to protect water, people, wildlife and quality of life from the dangers of fracking.
The protest will be Tuesday, Dec. 9, from 7:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
“Fracking is a big risk to Nevada’s water, and without adequate clean water, we have nothing,” said Dan Patterson, with the Center for Biological Diversity, a member of the coalition. “The fracking industry wants to get its hands on Nevada, but while they reap profits, our wildlife and water supplies will pay the price. Across the state, from Reno to Austin and Reese River Valley, to Ely, eastern Nevada and Las Vegas, Nevadans want to protect our water, quality of life, lands and wildlife from the fracking push.”
Fracking uses huge volumes of water, mixed with sand and dangerous chemicals, to blast open rock formations and release oil and gas. The controversial technique is being proposed on hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands managed by the BLM across Nevada.
A typical hydraulic fracturing process uses between 1.2 million and 3.5 million gallons of water per well, with large projects using up to 5 million gallons. This water often resurfaces as “flowback,” which is often highly polluted by fracking chemicals as well as radioactive materials from fractured shale.
Fracking has brought environmental and economic problems to rural communities across the country. Accidents and leaks have polluted rivers, streams and drinking water. Regions peppered with drilling rigs have high levels of smog, global warming gases, as well as other airborne pollutants, including potential carcinogens. Rural communities face an onslaught of heavy truck traffic — often laden with dangerous chemicals used in drilling — and declining property values. Wildlife habitat is also fragmented and degraded.
“Fracking is part of a larger problem, a problem where money trumps common sense and we jeopardize our precious water for a few dollars,” said Dawn Harris of Frack-Free Nevada and Nevadans Against Fracking. “Nevada state and local officials should ban fracking to protect our water, as people in places like Denton, Texas and San Benito County, California have done.”
“Nevada’s precious groundwater should not be sacrificed for short term profits of corporations. In our arid desert, groundwater should always trump oil,” said Bob Fulkerson of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.
Communities directly affected by oil and gas fracking, as a result of these sales, were not alerted by BLM in advance of preparing lease sale.
“Nevada Tribes have a vested interest in protecting our ancestral homelands from being harmed by the oil & gas industry,” said Jennifer Eisele, of the Shoshone Paiute Tribes, Duck Valley Indian Reservation. “We have a spiritual relationship with Mother Earth and it is our duty to protect our natural resources for the future existence of ourselves and descendants. Exploitation of fossil fuels may harm our water quality and damage our agriculture, which is our primary means of economic support.”
“Water is precious in the desert. I’m afraid of fracking chemicals being injected into our groundwater,” said Jennifer Messina of Ely, a retired teacher. “People are working to promote eastern Nevada as a great place to live and visit. All our efforts are lost if fracking poisons our ground.”
“BLM has a mandate to protect the safety of the environment and human health, but both BLM and the oil and gas industry have poor records,” said Dr. Bonnie Eberhardt Bobb of Austin, Nevada, in southern Lander County. “Dangerous fracking fluids could seep in to our groundwater. Disposal of fracking waste by injection in to the ground has also been correlated with increased earthquake activity.”
This summer, Lander County Commissioners objected and filed administrative protests over BLM’s sale of oil and gas fracking leases in Big Smokey Valley. Earlier this fall, the Lander County Water Board unanimously passed a resolution opposing any drilling or fracking in the Middle Reese River Valley, near Austin, due to threats to town water sources.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Frack-Free Nevada and Nevadans Against Fracking seeks to protect Nevada’s precious water, maintain the health and quality of life of Nevada communities, guard our air quality, improve agriculture and ranching, and preserve wildlife.