When Donald Trump illegally slashed the size of Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent in 2017, the fossil fuel industry was laughing all the way to the bank: The sacred Native American lands and fragile environmental areas protected by President Obama would soon be open for oil and gas drilling.1
Now, with Democrats firmly in control of the House of Representatives, we have a shot at reversing Trump’s massive giveaway of public lands to the fossil fuel industry.
Reps. Ruben Gallego and Deb Haaland recently introduced legislation to expand Bears Ears National Monument to 1.9 million acres and protect 100,000 culturally and scientifically significant Native sites. With drillers already buying leases in the Bears Ears region, it’s now more urgent than ever to demand that Congress protect and expand this important national monument.
Ever since Trump began his occupation of the White House, he and his administration have waged war on public lands and put the profits of fossil fuel companies and big polluters ahead of American and Native people. For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2018, the number of oil and gas leases on public lands nearly tripled those offered during the Obama administration, covering an astounding 12.8 million acres with much of it being destroyed by dirty hydraulic fracturing.2 In fact, a recent report by the USGS found that drilling on public lands and offshore areas accounts for 24 percent of all greenhouse emissions in the United States.3
The Bears Ears Expansion And Respect for Sovereignty Act would not only prevent destructive, climate-harming drilling on these precious public lands, but it would also expand protections to more sites containing sacred Native artifacts and scientifically important fossils, which are currently under threat by looters and vandals.4The legislation has broad support, with more than 70 original cosponsors, many major environmental groups and leaders from the Hopi tribe and Navajo Nation.5
Activism by indigenous leaders, environmentalists and more than 85,000 CREDO members to protect Bears Ears played a big role in convincing President Obama to create the national monument before he left office. Now we need to speak out once again to ensure Congress stops Trump’s war on public lands before any more damage is done to Bears Ears.
Thanks for all you do.
- Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman, “Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show,” The New York Times, March 2, 2018.
- Eric Lipton and Hiroko Tabuchi, “Driven by Trump Policy Changes, Fracking Booms on Public Lands,” The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2018.
- Miranda Green, “Public land drilling contributes a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in US: report,” The Hill, Nov. 26, 2018.
- Michael Greshko, “Rich Fossil Trove Found on Land Removed From Bears Ears Monument,” National Geographic, Feb. 22, 2018.
- Rep. Ruben Gallego, “Reps. Ruben Gallego and Deb Haaland Re-Introduce Bill to Protect Bears Ears National Monument,” Jan. 30, 2019.