During a proclaimed drought across much of the West, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Ely District of Nevada is offering up 399,873 acres of public lands for oil & gas lease sales.
This is being done even though “Fracking requires enormous quantities of water. Estimates put water usage at between 3 and 5 million gallons per fracking of a single well, and each well can be fracked several times.”
The BLM issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) to lease these 399,873 acres June 28, 2013, only a month after issuing an EA to remove wild horses because “there is insufficient vegetation or water to maintain the wild horses’ health and well being.”
If there isn’t enough water for wild horses, how can there possibly be enough water for oil & gas exploration and development? Where is the water going to come from?
The map below shows the oil & gas lease sale parcel areas in red, and some of the wild horse Herd Management Areas (HMAs), including Triple B (Buck-Bald & Butte), Antelope, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley (which includes the Dolly Varden Range).
Now, take a look at these same HMAs below, with the red oil & gas lease sale area, including some of the groundwater basins in blue.
(Even though the red area may look small, there is a potential for a water drawdown and risk of water contamination over the area of the entire groundwater basin. And, there is inter-flow between basins.)
The map below shows a Grazing Allotment map, along with an outline of the wild horse HMAs and the oil & gas lease areas in red.
Scientific American published an article regarding fracking wastewater wells, stating “Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation’s geology as an invisible dumping ground.”
Many ranchers have been pushing for the removal of wild horses, seeing them as competition to their grazing interests. In reality, the ranchers’ biggest competition is, and will be, from water guzzling uses like oil & gas extraction. If there is less water, there is less forage.
Even during the drought, the BLM is approving the expansion of existing mines and the opening of new mines.
Just one mine in Nevada (Barrick Gold’s Goldstrike Mine) has pumped over 383 BILLION gallons of water from an aquifer. Nearly 10 million gallons of water a day is draining away from the driest state in the nation. (Kirk Johnson, New York Times).
Mining drops the water table and dries up streams and seeps.
In 2010, the BLM gave the green light to the expansion of the Bald Mountain Mine within the Triple B Herd Management Area (HMA), even knowing the mine caused mercury in the watershed and higher levels of arsenic in the surface water.
The U.S. is still using the General Mining Law of 1872. Senator Harry Reid has been “instrumental in blocking efforts to reform the archaic General Mining Law of 1872, a legal blank check” that “allowed miners to take an estimated $408 billion worth of gold and other hard rock minerals from public lands without paying a single cent in royalties…”
“Before Congress banned the practice in 1994, Toronto-based Barrick Gold paid just $9,765 for 1,950 acres in Nevada that held an estimated $10 billion in gold.”
To make one gold wedding band, about 20 tons of earth must be excavated. Yet, when the BLM issues an EA to roundup wild horses, they show photos like the one below of the supposed “severe use” of the land by wild horses.
Do you think the BLM ever shows photos of a quarter or a pen next to a big mining pit or next to an oil derrick?
The reason the wild horses are facing dehydration and death right now is because of a man-made drought, caused by the BLM’s mismanagement of public lands. Uses that make the most money are being fast tracked, no matter what the consequences, even though this is a blatant violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
“Scientists warned that as the Great Basin’s groundwater is drained, desert springs and seeps will dry up, farms and ranches will wither away, and plants and wildlife will die off. The aquifer, which took millennia to fill, will run out.”
Soon, there won’t be wild horses left on public lands. There also won’t be farming, ranching, hunting or fishing. There just won’t be enough water. This is the “Industrialization of the West.” Unless you do what you can to stop it.
Send your comments on the proposed lease sale by July 29, 2013 to the Ely District Office, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Environmental Assessment for the upcoming Dec. 2013 oil & gas lease sale: https://www.blm.gov/epl-front-office/projects/nepa/36744/43653/46903/PRELIM_EA_-_EYDO_Oil_&_Gas_Lease_Sale_Dec._2013.pdf
To Learn More:
“Is Fracking Behind Contamination of Wyoming Groundwater?”http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-fracking-behind-contamination-in-wyoming-groundwater
“The BLM Overlooks Arsenic & Mercury, but Gets Rid of Wild Horses” http://rtfitchauthor.com/2012/06/28/blm-overlooks-arsenic-mercury-but-gets-rid-of-wild-horses/
“The Mining of our Aquifers” http://ppjg.me/2010/07/28/the-mining-of-our-aquifers/
“Chinese Government Money is Buying on of USA’s Biggest Mines” http://ppjg.me/2010/12/07/chinese-government-money-is-buying-one-of-u-s-a-%E2%80%99s-biggest-mines/
“Senator Reid is Working Hard, but for Whom?” http://www.libertynewsonline.com/article_301_29167.php
“Harry Reid, Gold Member: Is Our Senator in bed with America’s worst polluter?” by Josh Harkinson (2/24/09) Mother Jones http://motherjones.com/environment/2009/02/harry-reid-gold-member
New York Times “Drier, Tainted Nevada May Be Legacy of Gold Rush” by Kirk Johnson (12/30/05) http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/30/national/30gold.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0