Spreading Like Wildfire: Oil and Gas Leases Mean That Fracking Could Occur on Tens of Millions of Acres of U.S. Lands

Fact Sheet
March 13, 2013

According to a new NRDC analysis, at the end of 2011, 70 of the largest oil and gas companies operating in the United States held leases covering at least 141 million net acres of American landan area approximately the size of California and Florida combined. This is a minimum number of the acres leased nationwide because we only examined 70 out of hundreds of oil and gas producers in America.

And although many of these 141 million acres are already drilled, tens of millions of leased acres are not yet drilled, making them prime targets for drilling and fracking operations in the future.

America's energy needs don't require or justify this level of widespread drilling. The United States should instead be maximizing energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy as quickly as possible to transition to a clean energy economy. Yet oil and gas development continues to occur, and protection of clean air, clean water, healthy communities. The health of these lands across the country depends on the strongest possible state, local and federal rules, as well as the capacity for inspections, enforcement, monitoring, and record keeping needed to enforce them over such a large area. These facts dramatically underscore the dire need for new environmental and health protections to safeguard our clean water, clean air, healthy communities, and pristine wildlands now, in order to help prevent all the dangers that will come with oil and gas development yet to materialize.