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EDITORIAL: Environmental lobby gets hysterical as Trump administration opens a tiny percentage of Nevada public land to fracking

The state of Nevada, the seventh-largest in the country, covers 70 million acres. Estimates vary, but the federal government controls about 58 million acres within the Silver State’s boundaries.

Last week, the Trump administration announced it had authorized leases for potential oil drilling and fracking on roughly 33,000 acres of federal land in Nevada. That’s 50 square miles, which amounts to 0.04 percent of the state’s total area and about 0.056 percent of all the state’s public lands.

Yet if you listen to the usual suspects, you’d think most Nevadans are on the verge of having an oil derrick pumping away in their backyards, while evil frackers will be rampaging throughout the state’s most pristine landscapes, killing and maiming virtually everything in their path and leaving state residents to drink poisoned tap water.

“Nevada’s water and wildlife pay the price for the Trump administration’s reckless decision to auction off these beautiful places for drilling and oil fracking,” read a statement issued Wednesday by the Center for Biological Diversity.

But that’s not all. “Trump officials are hell-bent on auctioning off our public lands, and they have no regard for environmental laws,” the statement breathlessly goes on. “To serve corporate polluters, they’re flouting environmental regulations that safeguard endangered wildllfe, wildlands and public health.”

Is that some sort of record for the number of progressive buzzwords in three sentences?

The Trump administration in July had previously opened a small portion of Nevada’s public land to fossil fuel development, but even combined with last week’s move the number of acres involved would barely cover a small dot on an average-sized map.

The folks at the Center for Biological Diversity have already sued to block the July proposal, and they’ll certainly head to court to fight this latest plan. That’s what they do. Simply put, they’re against all productive use of public lands, oppose virtually all development and employ lawyers well-versed in manipulating environmental law to achieve leftist ends that they can’t accomplish through the legislative process.

If it were up to the Center for Biological Diversity, fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine would be banned tomorrow and we’d all be riding magic carpets to work.

Nevada lawmakers during the 2017 session already pondered a bill to ban fracking. It died. America’s fracking boon has put the country on the doorstep of energy independence — all just a decade removed from dire warnings about “peak oil.” The fracking industry is a tribute to industry and innovation, helping hold down energy costs and employing millions of workers with good-paying jobs.

Barack Obama did his best to strangle energy development on public lands. His successor prefers a more productive path. There’s no evidence that fracking is dangerous or causes serious environmental disruption.

Whether fracking proves a worthwhile endeavor in Nevada depends on a number of factors, but there’s no need for hysterics simply because the Interior Department has opened up a tiny percentage of its Nevada real estate portfolio to find out.

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