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  • Ryan_Zinke_official_congressional_photo(crop)
  • SixShooters_2
    December 15th, 2016

    Blueprint for protecting Utah’s redrock lands provides more certainty for future energy development

    For Immediate Release

    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY * NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL * SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE

    Contact:
    Stephen Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3981

    Salt Lake City (December 15, 2016):  The Bureau of Land Management today issued its long-awaited Moab Master Leasing Plan.  The plan will steer energy and mineral development away from sensitive public lands near Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, popular recreation destinations, and many outstanding proposed wilderness areas that are too wild to drill.

    The BLM’s Moab Master Leasing Plan was developed in close coordination with local stakeholders and will guide how the agency manages oil and gas development and potash mining on more than 785,000 acres of public land in southeastern Utah. The agency also released preliminary alternatives for the San Rafael Master Leasing Plan, which is evaluating how to achieve better balance in an area adjacent to Canyonlands with valuable cultural resources.

    “The Moab Master Leasing Plan gives BLM the right tools to guide future oil, gas and potash development in the heart of Utah’s red rock country,” said Stephen Bloch, Legal Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “The MLP gives industry certainty where leasing and ultimately development can take place and also makes plain the terms and conditions for those activities.  Likewise, the public as well as local communities and businesses now know that many of southeastern Utah’s stunningly beautiful canyons and mesas won’t be marred by the sight and sound of drill rigs and pump jacks. We appreciate BLM’s hard work to engage all stakeholders is this historic effort.”

    Increased energy development in eastern Utah has fueled air pollution that threatens human health and the area’s internationally acclaimed dark night skies.  It also affects recreation opportunities that contribute tens of millions of dollars to the state’s economy each year.  The dramatic effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident in southeast Utah’s already arid Colorado Plateau region. With more than 90% of BLM lands and minerals available nationally for leasing it has been incumbent on BLM to find better ways to safeguard wild places and other values of public lands—master leasing plans can help fit that need.

    “Some of our most treasured places remain at risk from drilling and speculative leasing.” said Nada Culver, senior director for agency policy at The Wilderness Society. “Master leasing plans, like the Moab MLP, are a rational way to manage oil and gas on our public lands – with a vision of where energy development can be managed and where other values, like wilderness and recreation, need to be protected. By finalizing the Moab MLP and moving forward with the San Rafael Desert MLP, as well as others in Colorado and Wyoming, BLM is modernizing the way we do business on our public lands by taking a thoughtful and smart approach from the beginning.”

    “Our public lands are home to our country’s last wild places, provide important wildlife habitat and drive local economies. The oil and gas industry does not belong there. This plan takes important steps to better protect vulnerable wilderness areas from wanton industrial exploration,” said Sharon Buccino, Director of the Land and Wildlife program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    The Moab MLP takes the following specific steps:

    • Protects wild places that are under threat from oil and gas leasing and development, including Fisher Towers, Porcupine Rim, Six-Shooter Peaks and Goldbar Canyon.  These landscapes would either be closed to future leasing or subject to “no surface occupancy” stipulations that prohibit physical development on the lease.
    • Provide strong protections for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks’ classic southern Utah vistas, dark night skies and clean water.
    • Makes most future leases in the MLP area subject to common sense ‘controlled surface use’ stipulations. These are essential to give both industry and the public certainty about the ground rules for future development.

    The plan does not:

    • Prohibit all oil and gas leasing and development in the planning area. Instead, it makes sure leasing and development are more thoughtful and deliberate manner that reflect the outstanding public lands in southern Utah.
    • Prohibit all potash leasing and development in the planning area.  Rather, the Plan establishes three ‘potash leasing areas’ where these activities are concentrated.

    Next up – San Rafael Desert Master Leasing Plan

    Today BLM also moved forward with its next Master Leasing Plan effort, in Utah’s San Rafael Desert, and released a series of preliminary alternative courses of action for public review and comment.  BLM previously shared these preliminary alternatives with local stakeholders, including Emery County and the National Park Service.  The San Rafael Desert Master Leasing Plan covers a landscape that is rich with cultural resources and abuts the Horseshoe Canyon extension of Canyonlands National Park.  It is located immediately west of the Moab Master Leasing Plan. BLM also continues its work on other MLPs in Western Colorado and Southwestern Wyoming.

    Additional resources:

    • Photos of public lands protected by the Moab Master Leasing Plan.
    • Photos of public lands within the San Rafael Desert Master Leasing Plan.
  • ArgyleCanyon3_JerrySpangler
    December 9th, 2016

    Yesterday afternoon, December 8, BLM announced its decision to defer from leasing two highly contested oil and gas lease parcels in Nine Mile Canyon, citing unresolved issues regarding impacts to rock art and other cultural resources.

    Read More »
  • Bears Ears Buttes (Tim Peterson)
    December 9th, 2016
    Bears Ears Buttes (Tim Peterson)

    Photo (c) Tim Peterson

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    December 9, 2016

    Contact: Scott Groene, Executive Director, SUWA 801-712-5034

    Yesterday, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesperson said “The House just took its last vote of the year.” With Representative Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) Public Lands Initiative (PLI) having never come to a vote in the 114th House of Representatives, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) Executive Director Scott Groene released the following statement:

    “Now that Congress has gone home without ever voting on the Public Lands Initiative, it’s clear that Representative Bishop’s PLI was not a serious effort to pass legislation, but an attempt to run out the clock and delay the protection of Bears Ears as a national monument by President Obama.

    “SUWA, like many organizations, began working with Representative Bishop nearly four years ago in good faith and in the hope that meaningful conservation could be achieved through constructive dialogue.

    “Unfortunately, the bill that Representative Bishop introduced in July was a giveaway to the energy industry, and chock full of poison pills that meant it would never enjoy bipartisan support in Congress.

    “However, the one point of bipartisan agreement is that the Bears Ears region is a treasured landscape. Governor Herbert, the majority of the Utah legislature, the San Juan County commission, and the Utah delegation have all agreed that Bears Ears is worthy of enhanced protection, though of course they had hoped to see that protection happen through the PLI.

    “Now that Representative Bishop has utterly failed to deliver on years of promises to safeguard this region from looting and industrial development, it is time for President Obama to step in where Congress has failed and protect Bears Ears as a national monument. Protecting Bears Ears cannot wait any longer.”

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  • MuddyCreekNaturalArea_RB_2
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