Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 11, 2017

Contact:  Clare Lakewood, (510) 844-7121,

Lawsuit Targets Trump's Oil Drilling Leases in Nevada

 Administration Sold Out Nevada’s People and Wildlife for Bargain Price

LAS VEGAS— The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit today challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s June sale of oil and gas leases in northern Nevada.

On June 14, the BLM offered nearly 200,000 acres of public lands in Nevada’s Battle Mountain district for fossil fuel development, including fracking. Today’s lawsuit argues the BLM failed to consider the potential consequences of oil drilling in the area, from contamination of critical desert water sources to emission of climate-altering greenhouse gases.

“Turning over northern Nevada’s public lands to Big Oil risks polluting the region’s air, water and soil with toxic chemicals while fueling the global climate crisis,” said Clare Lakewood, an attorney at the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “The Trump administration wants to turn public lands into private profits for the fossil fuel industry at the peril of local communities and wildlife.”

The BLM sidestepped the National Environmental Protection Act in neglecting to update its environmental assessment for the sale, the lawsuit argues. Most concerning, the outdated assessment used did not adequately evaluate the effects of fracking in and near Nevada’s rare wetlands. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, can release carcinogens and other hazardous pollutants into air and water while emitting massive amounts of methane, a significant driver of climate change. 

Public lands auctioned include the Big Smoky, Diamond and Railroad valleys and the Diamond, Fish Creek and Sulphur Creek mountain ranges. Wildlife at risk include mule deer, greater sage grouse, the threatened Railroad Valley springfish and other species that live in springs and wetlands potentially polluted or drained by fracking.

Ultimately, three parcels covering about 5,760 acres of land were sold at the auction for as low as $2 per acre. The BLM will hold auctions for the unsold parcels on a quarterly basis. Under the Obama administration, the BLM planned to defer more than half of the acres currently slated for auction because of environmental concerns.

“At a time when Nevada should be developing its abundant renewable energy resources, the BLM is giving a boost to dirty fossil fuel development in the state,” Lakewood said. “Instead of surrendering public lands to oil companies, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to cleaner, safer sources of energy.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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