In the movie A Christmas Story, all Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun. Christmas morning comes and all the presents are opened but Ralphie doesn’t get his wish. But wait, his dad says, what’s that hidden behind the desk? It’s the BB Gun!
The Trump Administration must be a big fan of the movie, because they also couldn’t resist giving one last special present to the oil and gas industry. Last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officially repealed the 2015 rules that govern fracking on public lands.
BLM is the agency responsible for regulating oil and gas development on more than 700 million acres of land, the majority of which is owned by the American public (think national forests, parks and monuments), and more than 57 million acres of which is privately owned land where the government owns the rights to minerals below the surface.
The rules were modest but would have provided important protections against the environmental and public health threats of oil and gas operations, including taking steps to improve well integrity, reduce the impact of toxic wastewater, and increase transparency around chemicals used in the fracking process. The Administration’s decision sends us back to a world where the practice of fracking on these lands is completely unregulated by the BLM.
But the Administration must have forgotten that all through A Christmas Story, people keep warning Ralphie not to get a BB Gun because he’ll shoot his eye out. And sure enough, what happens when Ralphie gets his wish and uses his new gun for the first time? He shoots his eye out.
As the nation’s stewards of our natural resources, BLM has an obligation to ensure these resources are managed responsibly, not to give the oil and gas industry free reign on the public lands that belong to all Americans. We and our partners will fight to see that not only is this decision reversed, but even stronger protections are put in place. So just like Ralphie, the oil and gas industry should be careful what they wish for. They may have gotten what they wanted, but they’re shooting themselves in the foot.