BLM Green Lights Potash Drilling on Hatch Point

The Moab Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved a mining company’s proposal to drill four exploratory potash* wells on Hatch Point.  K2O Utah LLC, owned by a large Australian mining company, has little concern for the harmful effects its drilling and development activities have on the outstanding scenery of the Greater Canyonlands area; it is interested in making a profit.  Period.  Yet, the tens of thousands of visitors that flock to the Hatch Point and Needles Overlook area annually are not doing so to view drill rigs, sludge pits, tanker trucks and industrial equipment.

Area of Hatch Point that would be affected by potash development.

BLM’s decision puts the cart before the horse.

The BLM has acknowledged that its current management plan failed to correctly identify areas where oil, gas and potash development should occur.  As a result, the Moab BLM is currently conducting an evaluation of public lands near Moab (known as the Master Leasing Plan process) to correct this defect.  As part of the Master Leasing Plan, the BLM is considering new management constraints for various areas, such as closing the Hatch Point area to leasing.   The BLM’s draft Master Leasing Plan is scheduled for release later this summer.

The BLM’s resolve to rush headlong into a decision to allow potash drilling on Hatch Point illustrates the immediate need for a higher level of protection for the lands in Greater Canyonlands.

*Potash is the common name for mined compounds of potassium in water-soluble form.  It is used primarily as one of the main ingredients in common varieties of fertilizer.