Threats from Public Lands

See how oil and gas pollution on public lands affects you

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New Mexico

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North Dakota

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Oil and gas extraction has occurred on public lands for decades, especially in the West, where most of the nation’s 640 million acres of publicly owned lands lie.

The maps of these six states—Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming—show the real and near effects of oil and gas development on public lands on nearby communities. At least 74,000 people in these states are threatened by air pollution from oil and gas wells on public lands.

Why do public lands matter?

96,000 active oil and gas wells on public lands—lands owned by the American people and managed by various federal agencies—provide 11 percent of the nation’s natural gas supply and 5 percent of its oil. But this energy extraction has raised concerns among the public and scientists about resulting harm to surrounding communities’ air quality.

What are the threats from oil and gas on public lands?

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a pollutant from oil and gas development that is —

  • A greenhouse gas up to 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years, and a major contributor to climate change;
  • Detrimental to human health, and known to lead to increase asthma attacks in children;
  • Can make other respiratory issues—like lung disease and emphysema—worse.

How can we fix this?

Because of these issues, we need federal regulations to clean up our air. Under the Obama administration, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management finalized regulations reducing methane pollution from oil and gas extraction.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration is committed to killing these safeguards. If you think we should cut oil & gas methane pollution — and the toxics that are emitted along with it — please call Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and tell him to keep the BLM methane rule and protect local communities affect by oil and gas extraction on lands that belong to all Americans.