RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Several dozen protesters stood outside the Bureau of Land Management office in Reno on Thursday. Nevadans Against Fracking and Frack Free Nevada waved signs and chanted.
Just a few feet away, inside the the BLM office, a land-lease auction involving more than 170,000 acres of public land in Battle Mountain was taking place.
Demonstrators are worried the sale will open the door allowing fracking near their communities. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique used to extract oil and gas from the earth. It is done by drilling horizontal wells and injecting, at high pressure, a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the horizontal shafts. The process fractures rock and shale freeing up oil or gas deposits trapped beneath the surface.
Demonstrators believe fracking is harmful to ground water, animals, land and residents. "As a mom, I'm terrified of what that means for our drinking water, and the water they're re-injecting back into our aquifer," said Adrienne Snow.
Snow said she has seen maps of where fracking could occur. "We have seen what they're proposing and there's a 360 degree circle drawn around where we farm and live."
BLM Spokesperson Chris Rose said the agency holds auctions like Thursday's four times a year. He said Thursday's auction does not mean the use of hydraulic fracturing is inevitable. "This is land that is being leased for oil and gas exploration."
Rose said fracking is just one technique of many that could be used by oil and gas developers. "The leasing is just the first step in the process and any additional environmental analysis will be done before a producer actually goes in and starts a well."
But the demonstrators outside the BLM office are worried Thursday's auction will open a door they would like to keep closed.
Meanwhile, Nevada Division of Minerals leader Rick Perry said hydraulic fracturing dates back to the 1940's. He notes it has become more popular recently due to new technology that allows for drilling of horizontal wells.
The Division of Minerals is in the process of updating its regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing or fracking, and they are seeking public input.
You may review the current draft, and provide your input by clicking here