• December 6th, 2018

    Today at the Utah State Capitol, a group of 40 young womxn* and allies — including students, educators, and community leaders from throughout Utah — braved the cold to make an urgent call for the protection of Utah’s irreplaceable wild lands in the San Rafael Swell and beyond.

    After several eloquent speeches, they walked to Governor Herbert’s office and delivered a statement signed by 79 young leaders explaining how the Emery County Public Land Management Act would exacerbate climate change and fails to sufficiently protect intact iconic landscapes such as Muddy Creek and Labyrinth Canyon. They also delivered nearly 4,000 postcards asking the governor to protect wild public lands throughout Utah.

    Read the complete statement delivered to Gov. Herbert here: https://bit.ly/2REPJsR

    Josee Stetich

    “Wilderness has irreplaceable and unquantifiable value to human life,” said Josee Stetich, event organizer and senior at Westminster College studying environmental science. “Harming these lands in the name of development at the expense of cultural resources and solitude is irresponsible to past, current, and future generations.”

    “In 2018, Utah experienced its driest year on record. Foreseeing this drought in March, Governor Herbert asked faith leaders to pray for snow. We need far more than prayers, however. We need action. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” said Brooke Larsen, organizer of youth-led climate justice movement Uplift.

    Brooke Larsen

    Mishka Banuri

    Said Ella Baker-Smith, an actress and senior at Rowland Hall-St. Marks School “I have touched the glorious red rock down south and have marveled at how it seems to surround you like a warm fire. I have attempted to adopt that fire and use it to passionately advocate for you in thie very moment.”

    “The importance of public land has been impressed on me, and the benefits of wilderness became tangible, as soon as the land became an outdoor classroom for me and my students,” said Holly Lammert, a science teacher at Realms of Inquiry School.

    “Clearly our politicians aren’t willing to do the right thing, so this is a message to the politicians who aren’t interested in protecting land for future generations and to the people in power who value profits over people: the young people will not let this happen,” said West High School senior, and founder of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions, Mishka Banuri.

    *Womxn is a term used to include people of all gender orientations who identify as “women” or “femmes.”

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  • December 5th, 2018

    It’s finally December, which means, blessedly, that Congress is about to go home! But first they’re in a frenzy to complete their work for the session and pass as many bills as possible.

    Senator Orrin Hatch is trying to use this freneticism to glue the Emery County Public Land Management Act (S. 2809) to a potential public lands package being negotiated by the House and Senate.

    We can’t let this happen. Contact your representatives now and tell them to oppose Sen. Hatch’s “Not-so-Swell” bill!

    San Rafael River. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    We’ve told you in the past that the bill fails to protect deserving landscapes like the San Rafael Badlands, Muddy Creek, and Labyrinth Canyon. And while Hatch has made some changes at the margins of the bill, they are not sufficient. The bill still protects far too little land, and the places it claims to protect are riddled with off-road vehicle routes. It also releases currently protected land for a coal mine and facilitates a land exchange that would allow the State of Utah to acquire nearly 12,000 acres of proposed wilderness! Finally, it gives away federal public land to the State of Utah for an expansion of Goblin Valley State Park.

    Don’t let Hatch hatch another anti-wilderness scheme! Contact your representatives now!

    Bottom line: the land that we fight for is better off if the bill doesn’t pass.

    Here’s what you can do. Click here to tell your members of Congress not to allow this bill to be attached to a public lands package—or any other.

    Then, call the Capitol Switchboard and say it again: 202-224-3121.

    Together we can make sure Sen. Hatch doesn’t get the coal mine he wants in his stocking.

    Thanks for all you do!

    P.S. Help us protect the San Rafael Swell in 2019 and beyond by making a tax-deductible year-end contribution to SUWA today. Click here to contribute.

  • November 28th, 2018

    Shortly after the Trump administration took office in 2017, SUWA filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Interior and Justice Departments seeking records related to several then-pending lawsuits, including a lawsuit brought by an oil and gas trade group (Western Energy Alliance) which challenged Obama-era oil and gas leasing reforms as well as the State of Wyoming’s lawsuit against Obama-era regulation of oil and gas fracking.  In particular, we sought communications between the plaintiffs in those lawsuits and federal officials, concerned that one or more sweetheart settlements might be in the making.

    After both Departments largely ignored our requests, SUWA filed suit in federal district court in Washington, DC seeking the release of all responsive records. After much back and forth with lawyers for the United States we began receiving a rolling production of records. We wanted to share a few notable items:

    •  The American Petroleum Institute’s wish list encouraging the rescission or weakening of Obama-era oil and gas leasing reforms. The Trump administration has followed through with many of these proposals.

    •  Emails between the Western Energy Alliance and the Departments of Interior and Justice as early as February 2017 regarding the settlement of an Alliance lawsuit. These discussions ultimately led to the Interior Department rescinding key Obama-era oil and gas leasing reforms.

    •  The National Mining Association’s wish list encouraging the rollback of Obama-era policies, including a coal leasing moratorium.

    SUWA has several other outstanding FOIA requests and lawsuits regarding records related to President Trump’s attack on Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments as well as the State of Utah’s sweeping RS 2477 litigation. We’ll keep you posted as those bear fruit.

  • November 19th, 2018

    Even as it solicits public comments on how to (mis)manage the illegally-reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is moving forward with two terrible “vegetation management” proposals within the original boundaries of Grand Staircase.

    These two proposals would strip sagebrush and pinyon-juniper forests from more than 110,000 acres of Grand Staircase-Escalante. All told, the BLM is looking at “landscape-level project[s]” on more than 560,000 acres of your public lands.

    Can you take a moment to defend Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by telling the BLM to shelve its vegetation mis-management plans? Click here to tell the BLM what you think.

    Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    In the Paria River watershed, the BLM is considering letting loose the chainsaws and mechanical masticators on up to 93,000 acres of public lands within a 565,000 acre area. Still in the initial scoping phase of planning, comments on the Paria River Project are due on Monday, November 26th.

    In the Skutumpah Terrace area northeast of Kanab, the BLM has completed an Environmental Assessment of a “treatment” proposal to remove pinyon and juniper from more than 22,000 acres of public land. The BLM is requesting public input on this plan by Monday, December 3rd.

    Click here to submit your comments on both plans. Tell the BLM to stop vegetation removal in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Large-scale vegetation removal projects are an extreme and unproven management approach that simply do not belong on our public lands, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument should certainly never be the subject of the most aggressive and invasive treatments like chaining, mastication, and mulching.

    Please take a moment to join us in defending Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from bad management decisions by submitting your comments today.

    Thank you for taking action.