Speak out against climate-damaging oil and gas leasing near Arches and Canyonlands National Park
The Trump administration is proposing to sacrifice our national parks and exacerbate the climate crisis by leasing a massive swath of treasured public lands near Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks for oil and gas development. On June 9, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released an environmental assessment purportedly analyzing the effects of such leasing. Watch for SUWA alerts about writing Utah Governor Herbert, and later about submitting comments to the BLM.
But there is something as or more effective that you can do – bring attention to this outrageous plan by writing a letter-to-the-editor or guest editorial (OpEd) to your local paper. This issue is of national interest so papers across the country should be receptive to your commentary.
Under the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda the BLM has been on a rampage, leasing public wild lands in Utah and across the West for oil and gas development regardless of destructive impacts to the climate crisis, lands sacred to Native Americans, national parks, wilderness, recreation, wildlife and community watersheds. In a particularly egregious plan, BLM now proposes to sell 77 oil and gas leases on 114,000 acres of public lands near Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks and the Obama-designated Bears Ears National Monument at a September 2020 sale.
These lands are some of the wildest, most scenic, and culturally significant public lands in Utah, and are popular with outdoor enthusiasts who use them for hiking, camping, mountain biking, climbing and more. Development on many of the leases would be visible from the national parks and Bears Ears National Monument as well as Dead Horse Point state park.
SUWA and other groups have been challenging oil and gas leasing on public lands in the courts with some at least temporary success. But if we are to change the BLM’s oil and gas leasing policies (under a new administration) it is essential we also win in the court of public opinion – and you can help do that by writing to your local news publications!
Some messaging point you could make:
- The Trump administration is proposing to blanket a massive swath of land near Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks, as well as Bears Ears National Monument, with oil and gas drilling leases. Ultimately, this will replace the area’s unspoiled red rock canyons, expansive vistas, clean air, quiet stillness, intense night skies, and sense of wildness with the sights and sounds of industrial development.
- The future development of these leases will unavoidably and unnecessarily exacerbate the climate crisis. We can not afford to have any more land opened to oil and gas development, especially when renewable energy sources now offer a real alternative.
- Absurdly, this rush to lease continues even though the world is awash in excess oil and gas, as evidenced by the fact that the price per barrel of oil has dropped dramatically, even dipping below zero at one point!
- Even more ludicrous, BLM is offering new leases while at the same time reducing the royalty rates oil and gas companies pay on existing leases in the same area. This “royalty relief” comes in response to oil and gas company claims that they can’t afford to develop existing leases economically at this time.
- And remember, leased land is tied up for decades as once leases are issued, oil companies hold a “right” to develop that lasts at least ten years!
- Given all this, how can anyone consider BLM’s plan to sacrifice iconic western landscapes and our planet’s health to oil and gas leasing anything but outrageous and unconscionable?
- The September 2020 Utah oil and gas lease sale must be halted and the “energy dominance” policy reformed.
For more information see:
Published articles that you can respond to:
- The New Yorker: A guy named Craig may soon have control over a large swath of Utah Send LTEs to email@example.com. Include your postal address and phone number.
- Bloomberg.Law: Interior proceeds with oil leasing close to Utah national parks https://news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/interior-proceeds-with-oil-leasing-close-to-utah-national-parks Bloomberg.law is by subscription only and doesn’t accept LTEs. But you can submit a LTE to Bloomberg News at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy email@example.com editor at Bloomberg.law
- Moab Sun News: Thousands of acres in Moab area up for oil and gas lease 550 word limit. Submit to: https://www.moabsunnews.com/site/forms/online_services/letter/
- Moab Times Independent — hasn’t yet published an article, but they certainly will. You can go ahead and submit an LTE now or wait until they cover the issue. 500 word limit. Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Salt Lake Tribune. Hasn’t published an article but you can go ahead and submit a LTE. Submit: email@example.com Include full name, address, phone and email. 200 word limit.
- Deseret News: Hasn’t published an article but you can go ahead and submit a LTE. Submit: Use this form http://deseretnews.wufoo.com/forms/m7x3z9 or firstname.lastname@example.org Include full name, address, phone and email. 200 word limit
- KUER: Public Land Next to Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands could be auctioned off for drilling this fall KUER does not accept LTEs.
Other good places where you can submit LTEs/OpEds: Even if your local/regional paper has not run a news story on the September 2020 oil and gas leasing sale, you can still submit a LTE. In fact, that could even inspire them to cover the issue. See finding “hooks” guidance below! Use this list to find papers in your region – see tabs at bottom!
Remember to check the word limit for your paper. LTE word limits are often 200-250 words and papers are often strict about it. Guest Editorials (OpEds) can usually be a lot longer but OpEds are more challenging to place.
Finding “hooks” for your LTE/Guest Editorial: The best hook arises if your local/regional paper publishes an article on this lease sale and you write a LTE referencing that article. But if our paper does not cover the sale, there are a lot of other ways you might make your letter/editorial timely and relevant to your local paper. You could use any article on the climate crisis, Trump’s environmental record, or national parks and public lands, for example, as a springboard or pivot to your commentary. You could even use the Covid-19 pandemic by leading with a sentence that talks about how you and many Americans are dreaming of the day when they can again visit safely our national parks and public lands – but say they might find them diminished if current oil and gas leasing policies persist.
Trust your own voice: Remember, the most compelling LTEs are written in your own voice, bringing in a personal experience or relationship to the issue as well as making broader messaging points. Trust that your letter will be more interesting if you write from your heart and interweave your own story.
If you’d like some help: We are happy to give your draft a read for accuracy or help with editing suggestions. Just email email@example.com with URGENT in the subject line!
Send us a copy of your submitted and/or published LTE! firstname.lastname@example.org
Share your published LTE/OpEd on social media! Suggested hashtags: #ProtectWildUtah, #StandwithBearsEars #publiclands #wilderness #utah