Commentary: BLM selling out ranchers to make way for Big Oil?

fracking and horses

It could very well be that the Dept. of the Interior is actually very happy that cattle ranchers and wild horse advocates are pointing fingers at each other. With all the controversy going on, it would be much easier to remove wild horses, reduce the land alloted to cattle – all so Big Oil can do more fracking. Our government makes millions from these permits. And politicians campaign budgets are lined with Big Oil money. Water needed to frack oil from the ground would come from the surrounding region – water used by cattle ranchers and wild horses mind you. And it takes a great deal of water to frack and the full range of environmental concerns are only just now being understood. Do we want to kill off our wild horses, create worse drought conditions – all so Big Oil can make more money? ~ HfH

From: Elko Daily Free Press
By: Sarah Sweetwater

fracking and horsesRangeland health, drought, wild horse management and oil exploration are interconnected and inter-dependent on water in Northeastern Nevada, as well as other regions of the U.S.

With varying allotments budgeted by BLM, I have grave concerns during these drought times for BLM’ s priorities. Are our permitted grazing allotments being tagged as potential oil exploration allotments? Is BLM seeing $$$ signs for the oil and gas competitive lease sales? Currently competitive BLM lease sales numbered 44 parcels in Elko County and 102 parcels or 174,021.36 acres in Battle Mountain.

How many oil exploration allotments will compromise current grazing allotments and natural habitat for sage grouse?

From Sunset Magazine, April 2014: “In the Monterrey Shale assessment, the BLM auctioned their mineral rights to Vintage Production California, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.” There is not enough water for the ranchers or the wine growers in the area so where is their priority of water placed?

Since quantities of water are needed for both grazing allotments and oil exploration allotments, I wonder if pushing cattle off allotments clears the way for better lease sales to oil companies who will need large quantities of water? They certainly are not going to fence the grazing allotments to keep cattle off their roads. I am told that there is multiple use for our federal lands and that grazing and oil exploration can happen side by side. Sure they can if there is enough water for both and the oil trucks won’ t run down the cattle.

I was told that the oil company would drill their own well. Yes, and how far down will that draw the water table and springs in the area? They couldn’t tell me how many gallons of water they would require. We need information for a better understanding of the risks involved in fracking. Will our sage grouse habitat be compromised by the installation of drilling pads and heavy traffic of the oil trucks? A well pad of 4.7 acres will be cleared and graveled and approximately 30 acres will be required for roads.

Flying out of Texas recently I photographed a disturbing site of pocked-marked landscape around Ft Worth, Texas. This was once lush and green with stands of trees and grassland for the quarter horses. Acres of graveled oil pads were close to housing and more disturbing, next to the schools.

In December the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report of dangerous levels of carcinogenic benzene and explosive methane in the drinking water of the area near Fort Worth. Vegetation was removed, soil exposed, plants and animals displaced, wildlife and migration corridors were interrupted. These drilled wells in earthquake regions are even more susceptible to seismic problems.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • Margaret

    Well I know the cattle rancher around the corner from me–his fields are barren. And he DOESN’T have any horses to blame. Between the cattle grazing what little grass there was and our drought–were screwed.

    I wonder if other lands are as deeply pockmarked as the field near me…

    August 25, 2014
  • Arlene Aquino

    Is there NO end to greed?

    August 25, 2014
  • LNorman

    I read (think it was Bloomberg Weekly) that $22 TRILLION dollars had already been loaned by world banks on the gas reserves in the ground. Talk about putting the cart before the horse and it’s no wonder big oil/gas has heavily armed security thugs.
    Also HUGE wind farms planned for Wyoming, energy will be exported/sold to other states.

    August 25, 2014
  • Robynne Catheron

    Arlene, I don’t believe there is. It’s almost like the decision-makers, CEOs, powers-that-be, etc, have somehow turned into money-making robots, with no heart, no soul, and nary a speck of human being left inside. Big Oil, Big Ag, Big Pharma, and Big Food all run our country now. None of them have enough money, evidently. They all want it all.

    August 25, 2014