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New Data-Driven Website Reveals How Oil and Gas Companies Influence Energy Development on America’s Public Lands

RiggingTheSystem.org is a new resource for media, government leaders, and citizens

DENVER—The Center for Western Priorities and The Wilderness Society unveiled a new website today, RiggingTheSystem.org, to help Americans sort through the deluge of data and reports about oil and gas development on U.S. public lands. The website launches as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is considering sweeping policies to increase the pace and scale of oil and gas drilling on public lands, including in national forests, wildlife refuges, and around parks and monuments.

“There’s so much noise around drilling on public lands. What we want to do with this website is help clear up the confusion and provide a resource for everyone to better understand the issues,” said Greg Zimmerman, Deputy Director at the Center for Western Priorities. “The fact is oil and gas production in the United States has reached new heights, and public lands have played an important role. But this administration is looking to throw the baby out with the bathwater, undermining common-sense safeguards that protect public lands and communities from the impacts of drilling.”

“The Interior Department is required by law to manage public lands for many different uses—not just oil and gas—including outdoor recreation, conservation, wildlife, and clean water,” said Nada Culver, Senior Counsel at The Wilderness Society.

“Unfortunately, President Trump and Secretary Zinke are selling out our public lands to oil and gas companies at the expense of Americans—not to mention the countless local western economies dependent on public lands for conservation and outdoor recreation,” Culver continued.

The new website covers a range of issues, including:

  • Process: the six steps that turn public lands into private oil and gas leases

  • Economics: how leasing and drilling decisions are driven by market forces

  • On the Chopping Block: parks and public lands currently threatened by development

  • Get the Facts: for example, currently 9 out of 10 acres of U.S. public lands is available to companies for oil and gas leasing and drilling.

Last week Secretary Zinke delivered a report to President Trump—required under the March 28, 2017 Executive Order signed by the president—identifying which protections and safeguards on leasing and drilling the agency hopes to cut. The contents of the report were not made public.

RiggingTheSystem.org will be updated regularly to provide the latest information, including facts and statistics on drilling and development and analysis of policy proposals from Congress, the Interior Department, and the Trump administration.

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Senators may use budget vote to advance efforts to open up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
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