Climate Change


  • June 14th, 2021

    The Biden administration is poised to authorize oil and gas drilling on the doorstep of Dinosaur National Monument. If approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the proposal will industrialize a remote and scenic area by greenlighting the construction of new access roads, well pads, and the drilling of two wells—all about ¼ of a mile from the monument.

    This ill-conceived project—proposed by Hoodoo Mining & Production Co. LLC—runs counter to every stated goal and objective of the Biden administration. It threatens some of our nation’s wildest, most scenic public lands, including a national monument, and will harm lands with wilderness characteristics as well as priority habitat for greater sage-grouse. On top of all this, it will exacerbate the climate crisis.

    The BLM is accepting comments through June 23rd. Please tell agency not to approve this terrible drilling proposal.

    Split Mountain Benches
    Wilderness-quality lands at risk near Dinosaur National Monument. © Scott Braden/SUWA

    Making matters worse, BLM is bending over backwards to facilitate the project. The drilling and related development will take place on public lands that are currently subject to a “no surface occupancy” stipulation, which prohibits all surface disturbing activities. When Hoodoo Mining acquired the lease it did so with full knowledge of this restriction. Now, at the company’s request, the BLM is proposing to waive that important stipulation rather than requiring the company to develop in a less sensitive area.

    Tell the BLM not to grant Hoodoo Mining’s request to waive the “no surface occupancy” stipulation.

    Dinosaur National Monument is world-renowned for its remarkable density and diversity of prehistoric sites and paleontological resources. In addition, according to the National Park Service, the monument “is one of the darkest places remaining in the United States. Because there is little light pollution here, you can see the stars of the Milky Way galaxy with startling clarity.”

    With your help, SUWA will fight every step of this project to ensure that the monument remains that way.

    Please click here to submit your comments now.

  • June 9th, 2021

    There is some entertainment value to Senator Romney and Representative Curtis introducing an Illinois wilderness bill to contrast the more serious proposal from Senator Durbin to protect federally-owned wild lands located within the state of Utah.  However, their bill covers the entire Shawnee National Forest regardless of what is still wild and what is not, so it doesn’t truly pass the laugh test.

    So let’s talk about actions that are actually important and impactful.

    The world is facing a climate crisis.  The Colorado River is at all-time lows and shrinking, threatening water used for drinking and growing food for millions.  Forest fires burn across the headlines.  Bigger fiercer hurricanes are wreaking unprecedented damage. Storm patterns are harming agriculture in the American heartland.  Refugees are beginning to flee from one nation to another due to climate impacts.  Creation itself is in decline with the numbers of lifeforms and their wild homes crashing to unprecedented lows.  This is just the beginning tip of the melting iceberg.

    Instead of frivolous legislation, it would be helpful to see a serious proposal from the Utah delegation.  Fortunately, we have “America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act” to fill the void.

    Scientists – and the Paris Climate Agreement — tell us we need to remain below a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature increase if we are to avoid widespread and irreversible disaster.  To accomplish that we need to stop emitting greenhouse gasses and sustain Mother Nature’s capacity to draw carbon out of the atmosphere via sequestration. America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act makes a sizable contribution on both fronts.

    A new peer-reviewed research study shows that Senator Durbin’s bill would allow us to keep in the ground the equivalent of nearly 6% of the carbon budget necessary to avoid warming the earth more than 1.5 degrees.  The same study shows that conserving the trees, desert shrublands and soils on these lands would retain their innate ability to pull carbon out of the atmosphere, allowing the amount of carbon sequestered by these lands to increase 10% over the course of this century.

    And there are more benefits.  America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would conserve substantial areas of “climate refugia” – wildland habitat that is crucial for animals and plants to adapt to and survive changing climate conditions.  In addition, Utah’s wildlands sit in a uniquely productive place for sustaining multi-state wildlife corridors – five to be exact – that provide lifelines for deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, black bear and mountain lion in a changing climate.

    Finally, Senator Durbin’s bill would help sustain flows in the shrinking Colorado River.  This is because the bill would help prevent surface-disturbing activities which increase the amount of windblown dust that lands on Colorado snowpack.  Studies show that “red dust on snow” causes the snow to melt faster and sooner, reducing flows by more than 5% in recent years.

    These are positive impacts for people across the west, the entire nation, and the world.

    What happens to the wild places on the United States public lands within the boundaries of Utah is of concern to all Americans.  We elect United States Senators to represent their home state, serve the entire country and do what they can to help the world.  We are grateful  that Sen. Durbin is stepping into his responsibility, acting for our families and for our future.

    Take Action! Ask Your Members of Congress to Cosponsor America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

  • May 11th, 2021

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact: Jen Ujifusa, Legislative Director,  jen@suwa.org 

    Washington, DC (May 11, 2021) –  Yesterday, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced S. 1535, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, the seminal legislation that would protect 8.4 million acres of public lands in Utah as wilderness.

    The wild and expansive lands proposed for protection under America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act comprise a prime piece of what scientists say is needed today—protecting 30% of America’s lands and waters by the year 2030 in order to prevent catastrophic collapse of our natural systems. Centrally located in the Intermountain West, these lands are also a vital link in the interconnected chain of largely undisturbed ecosystems running from the Grand Canyon to Glacier National Park, providing important migration corridors for wildlife.

    In response to the Senate reintroduction, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) legislative director Jen Ujifusa issued the following statement: 

    “America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act is more important than ever as we face the Climate Crisis and the Nature Crisis, as its passage would keep fossil fuels in the ground, preserve habitat connectivity and resiliency, and allow the desert lands to continue to sequester carbon, all while protecting the visual and cultural resources contained on the land for generations to come. 

    “We are grateful for the leadership shown by Senator Durbin and Senate co-sponsors, and we look forward to beginning an earnest discussion with the Biden administration and Congressional leaders on how America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act can play a crucial role in achieving the administration’s goal of protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.”

    Signing onto the legislation as cosponsors were Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

    Recent peer-reviewed research shows that passage of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would make a significant contribution to mitigating climate change. Protecting these wild landscapes would keep a significant amount of fossil fuels in the ground.

    All lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act are owned by the American public and administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

    Additional resources:

    Statement from Sen. Dick Durbin.

    Report: The Role of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act in Protecting Biodiversity and Mitigating the Climate Crisis (PDF).

     

  • May 6th, 2021

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact: Scott Groene, Executive Director, 801-712-5034, scott@suwa.org

    Moab, UT (May 6, 2021) – Today, the White House released the “America the Beautiful” initiative to reach the U.S. goal of conserving 30 percent of the country’s lands and waters by 2030. In response, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) executive director Scott Groene released the following statement:

    “SUWA applauds the Biden administration’s America the Beautiful plan for taking the first step towards addressing the twin crises of wildlife extinction and the climate emergency.

    “Much work remains to be done, and America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, which will soon be reintroduced in Congress, can play a crucial role in achieving the administration’s goal of protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. The Act would conserve five key wildlife corridors that are essential to biodiversity, not only in Utah but in ecosystems throughout western North America, and a 2020 scientific report shows that protecting the lands in the Act would permanently keep in the ground greenhouse gasses equivalent to 5.7% of the carbon budget necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as called for by the Paris Agreement.

    “We look forward to working with the Biden administration and our champions in Congress to fully and permanently protect the 9 million acres of Utah public lands that are worthy of wilderness designation.”

  • April 16th, 2021

    Get the details behind a new scientific report from EcoAdapt: Contribution of the America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts. The report is authored by EcoAdapt’s Laura Hillberg, and she joins us to explain its conclusions.

    Wild Utah is made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Wild Utah’s theme music, “What’s Worth?” is composed by Moab singer-songwriter Haley Noel Austin. Post studio production and editing is by Jerry Schmidt.

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