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Activists Tell Feds to "Keep It In The Ground"

Conservation advocates protest oil and gas leases at a rally in March; the next one takes place tomorrow. (Center for Biological Diversity)
Conservation advocates protest oil and gas leases at a rally in March; the next one takes place tomorrow. (Center for Biological Diversity)
June 13, 2016

RENO, Nev. - Several hundred anti-fracking advocates are planning a big rally in Reno tomorrow to protest the auction of oil and gas leases.

The Bureau of Land Management plans to sell contracts to extract natural resources from 115 square miles of federal land in the Smoky Valley.

Opponents with the "keep it in the ground" movement want the president to halt oil and gas leases on all public land and oceans.

John Hadder is director of the anti-fracking nonprofit group Great Basin Resource Watch, which is organizing the rally along with 10 other groups, including the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

"Oil and lease sales are moving toward a very destructive process," says Hadder. "To the land, disruptive to the community and to the families that live near those operations."

The group plans to march at 8 a.m. from the Virginia Street Bridge to the Siena Hotel, where they will hold a public art spectacle that includes a "human oil spill."

Susan Hoog, a longtime conservation advocate in Reno, is concerned about impacts on groundwater and increased truck traffic, and says the state should be moving away from fossil fuels entirely.

"There never is enough money put aside in reserve for cleaning up after the land has been fracked," Hoog says. "So why are we even going this direction? Maybe we'd be better served to explore alternative energy rather than relying on oil and gas to generate revenue."

Hoog notes, past leases have generated as little as a $1.75 an acre per year, which goes up to $2 an acre for the last 10 years of the lease, with the promise of 12.5 percent of the profits should the well go into production.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV