Driven by Trump Policy Changes, Fracking Booms on Public Lands

Driven by Trump Policy Changes, Fracking Booms on Public Lands

Ms. McDonald, then a top lobbyist at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, also intervened on behalf of oil companies like Chesapeake, ConocoPhillips and EOG Resources, pushing for specific changes in zones set up in Wyoming to protect sage grouses.

“To ignore the problem could potential jeopardize several dozen projects in Wyoming,” Ms. McDonald wrote in a July 2017 email released this year to Western Values Project, a nonprofit public lands advocacy group, which sued the agency to gain access to the correspondence. A top ConocoPhillips executive had reached out the previous day with a similar plea, reinforcing the industry’s demand.

Ms. McDonald followed up the next month, asking Timothy Williams, a senior official at the Interior Department, if the bureau had “been able to resolve this map discrepancy in Wyoming yet?” Two minutes later, he responded, “We are working on it. I have let the secretary know as well.”

Last summer, Mr. Zinke proposed a new policy that reflected the change the oil companies had requested. A final action is expected soon.

Representatives for ConocoPhillips, Chevron and EOG, together with energy industry associations, said that they were committed to responsibly extracting oil and gas from public lands.

“We will continue to work with regulators to ensure that regulations are cost-effective, scientifically based and not duplicative, overly burdensome or in conflict with other regulations,” Daren Beaudo, director of media relations at ConocoPhillips, said in an email. Chesapeake and Anschutz declined to comment.

Faith C. Vander Voort, the Interior Department’s deputy press secretary, said in a statement that actions the agency had taken were smart regulatory overhauls that were “fostering increased investment.” The changes were based largely on requests from the states, which were now benefiting from that increased investment, not industry players.

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