Trump administration plan makes drilling and fracking easier in national forests

The U.S. Forest Service released a proposal 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.

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