An excerpt from Yahoo! News: The Department of Interior is quietly preparing to offer hundreds of thousands of acres of public land for leasing to energy companies, a move critics have charged is being undertaken with minimal public input and little consideration for ecological and cultural preservation.
According to data compiled by environmental groups, the Bureau of Land Management will put 2.9 million acres up for potential leasing in the next four months. Because the land in question — in states including New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona — lacks designation as a national park or monument, it can be used for commercial purposes such as mining for minerals and drilling for oil and gas. Supporters say that bolstering the extractive industries will ensure energy independence for the United States, though shifting energy preferences and falling oil prices appear to undermine that assertion.