WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in honor of Earth Day, Representatives Pocan (WI) and Schakowsky (IL) introduced the Protect Our Public Lands Act (POPLA), the first ever Congressional effort to ban fracking on public lands, which would protect precious areas from Florida’s Everglades to New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon.
The Introduction of POPLA comes just one month after the administration released rules regulating fracking on public lands.
“We’ve seen fracking contaminate our drinking water, put our families’ health at risk and turn treasured open spaces into industrial zones,” said Rachel Richardson, Director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling Program. “Some places are just too precious to drill and frack, and that includes our parks, canyons and forests.”
The Protect our Public Lands Act would ban fracking in areas that provide critical drinking water sources for millions of Americans such as the Delaware River Basin and George Water National Forest and on all federally managed lands. The move comes as oil and gas companies have already secured leases on 36 million acres of public lands and expressed interest in fracking 12 million more acres of public parks, forest and other lands.
Any place where fracking has happened in the U.S. it has wrought widespread environmental damage – from polluting waterways to increasing air pollution and disrupting wildlife. The process generates millions of gallons of toxic wastewater laced with benzene, caustic salts and even radioactive material. Waste pits have contaminated groundwater at more than 400 sites in New Mexico alone. In the Pinedale Mesa region, extensive gas development has coincided with a significant reduction in the region’s population of mule deer.
“From contaminated drinking water and air pollution, to heavy traffic and exploding pipelines, this kind of industrial activity has no place in the heart of our country’s most precious federal lands,” Richardson said. “While the only way to protect our health and communities from this dirty drilling practice is to ban it altogether, banning fracking on public lands is an important first step to ensuring our prized forests and natural areas are protected from the devastation fracking causes.”