More than 60 percent of oil and gas leases offered by the Trump administration in the American West are in water-stressed areas, posing a potential threat to the water security of farmers and local communities, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.
The findings come from a review of data on more than 5,550 oil and gas leases that the Trump administration has offered in the Intermountain West since January 2017. More than 6 in 10 have been in areas suffering from “high” or “extremely high” water stress, as defined by the World Resources Institute.
“The expansion of fossil fuel development on U.S. public lands could endanger the quantity and quality of water that is available to farmers, towns, and other water users in the region,” said Jenny Rowland-Shea, author of the analysis and a senior policy analyst for Public Lands at CAP.
In New Mexico for example, 387 of 402 leases—more than 95 percent—offered under the Trump administration are located in “extremely high” water-stress areas. In Nevada, 93 percent of leases were in water-stressed areas, while it was about 63 percent in Wyoming.
The column recommends that the government better track the water used for energy development in the West and urges the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to develop specific agencywide guidance to ensure adequate and consistent consideration of the potential impact on watersheds when it comes to oil and gas leasing on public lands.
Read the analysis: “Oil and Gas Development Is Creating A Problem for the Arid West” by Jenny Rowland-Shea