Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 31, 2020


Michael Saul, (303) 915-8308,

Forest Service Plan Would Fast-track Fracking on National Forests, Grasslands

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Forest Service released a proposal today that would fast-track fracking and drilling across the country’s 192 million acres of national forests and grasslands.

The proposed rule would reduce requirements that the Forest Service approve oil and gas leasing plans, sidestep National Environmental Policy Act review, and prevent public involvement before the public lands are leased out for fossil-fuel extraction.

“This proposal would basically make the Forest Service a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry,” said Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We face accelerating climate change, fire and drought, and the last thing we should be doing is making it easier to auction off our irreplaceable national forests for destructive drilling and fracking.”

The Forest Service proposal undermines a key requirement that it have the last word on national leasing decisions, conflicting with its congressional mandate.

The agency says the proposed rule would align its leasing methods with the Bureau of Land Management’s, but the BLM’s methods have been struck down by a federal court because they prevent public input.

“Forests are vital strongholds for wildlife habitat, clean water and recreation,” said Saul. “Fracking is a filthy business, and people have a right to know if it’s coming for their national forests. We can’t afford to lose one more acre to fossil fuel extraction.”

A Center analysis shows the national forest system holds 1.8 billion barrels of oil and 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. If fully developed that would produce 2.4 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution — the equivalent of annual emissions from 600 coal-fired power plans.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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