April 2010 - Page 2 of 2

  • April 9th, 2010

    Tucked between the rivers slowed by Lake Powell, a wilder, more unpredictable
    set of wonders can be found.  Here, in the still unprotected Glen Canyon wilderness, sandstone domes and
    mesas rise beyond the reaches of the Colorado and San Juan rivers – reminders of
    the pristine beauty that once dominated this entire region.

    Upper Red Canyon (small)
    Upper Red Canyon, copyright
    Ray Bloxham/SUWA.  Click image for more

    Look up to see Mancos Mesa, the largest isolated slickrock mesa in southern
    Utah, a 180-square-mile table rising 1,500-feet high above the surrounding
    desert.  Here, one of Utah’s few relict plant communities of pinyon, juniper,
    blackbrush and yucca thrives undisturbed – save for the hoofbeats of bighorn
    sheep and mule deer.  Moqui and Red canyons meander below, but ORV use is
    eroding the delicate sand formations that provide access to them.

    Now peer around a bend in White Canyon, which carves cool, dark, labyrinthine
    slots so narrow that a human wingspan is enough to touch its sides, and see the
    upper walls adorned with the honeycomb, grottoes and alcoves of erosive art.
    Here, remnants of Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings remain mostly untouched,
    the difficulty of the terrain thus far safeguarding them from vandals and
    thieves.  Without wilderness designation, however, these prehistoric structures
    and artifacts may soon be accessed by looters with bigger and more powerful ORVs
    before they can be fully studied.

    Envision a future where the treasures of the Glen Canyon wilderness are
    protected for generations to come.  That’s what we’re working on at SUWA with
    our partners in the Utah Wilderness Coalition, and you can help.

    Have you been to any of these places in the Glen Canyon wilderness?  We would
    love to hear your story, see your pictures, and share them with those who can
    help us protect these treasures for good.

    Write us today!
    (Story and photo submissions will constitute permission for SUWA to post
    them on our website and online networks and use them in our written materials,
    unless the individual requests otherwise.)

  • April 5th, 2010

    Sec. Salazar brings rock-solid sense to management of Nine Mile Canyon

    "Interior Secretary Ken
    Salazar continues to make good on his promise to restore much-needed
    balance and common sense to the regulation of oil and gas drilling in
    the West. And, so far, Utah has been the centerpiece of Salazar's
    campaign to roll back the "drill at all costs" policy of the previous

    The latest advance in Salazar's campaign came Wednesday with
    announcement of a legal settlement that effectively ends the
    application of so-called "categorical exclusions" giving energy
    companies a shortcut around regulations designed to protect sensitive
    natural and cultural resources from damage inflicted by drilling
    operations." Read more–Salt Lake Tribune

  • April 1st, 2010

    No more slick permits: The return of clarity and transparency to drilling policy

    Thanks to a successful
    partnership of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Wilderness Society
    and The Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, it was announced yesterday that oil
    companies will no longer be able to skip needed environmental assessments in
    sensitive areas, cinching up a Bush-era loophole that allowed the messy rubber-stamping
    of drilling permits. Yesterday’s settlement with the Bureau of Land Management
    means “categorical exclusions,” which allowed new drilling to be approved without
    first conducting a thorough environmental analysis, will no longer be allowed
    in cases where there are cultural resources, wetlands, wilderness and other
    highly sensitive factors.

    This fight started in Nine Mile Canyon in Utah,
    where more than 10,000 archeological sites were being destroyed by drilling
    dust and chemicals, but the victory will protect natural resources nationwide,
    ensuring that oil companies and the BLM do their homework before breaking
    ground and that the public knows what the impacts will be.

    This is something to
    celebrate, and SUWA, along with our partners in the settlement at The
    Wilderness Society and The Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, is pleased the oil and
    gas reforms promised by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar continue
    to make progress. No objection has been made by the Bill Barrett Corporation, which
    held the 30 wells in Nine
    Mile Canyon

    that triggered the suit.

    In fact, the only
    objection has come from Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), who issued a statement Wednesday saying
    he is outraged at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance for what he calls a “secret
    deal.” But unlike the shortcuts it curtails, there’s nothing murky about this
    settlement. SUWA was just one of several groups in a wide spectrum of
    environmental and historic preservation advocates that brought this justice to
    bear. In fact, after our groups took action in 2008, the government’s own
    General Accountability Office took issue with the categorical exclusions in a
    2009 report, pointing out that the BLM was out of compliance with the law, and
    28 percent of drilling permits over two years had been issued with the loophole.
    Use of categorical exclusions has shut the public and the agencies responsible
    for monitoring public lands out of the conversation for years. This settlement marks a return to accountability and transparency in the issuance of
    drilling permits.

    Read the press release issued by SUWA, The Wilderness Society and The Nine Mile Canyon Coalition here.

    –Jen Beasley, Legislative Advocate, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

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