Oil and Gas Development Archives


  • June 29th, 2020

    As you may have heard by now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants to open up more than 114,000 acres of wild lands in Utah—including more than 86,000 acres in southeastern Utah—to oil and gas drilling as part of its upcoming September lease sale.

    If this massive lease sale goes through, oil and gas wells could appear at the doorstep of Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef National Parks—as well as near Bears Ears National Monument, Labyrinth Canyon, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Green River, and in lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

    Tell the BLM: No oil and gas leasing near Utah’s National Parks!


    The BLM is accepting comments on the lease sale through next Thursday, July 9th. Trump’s BLM needs to hear from you. Tell them:

    • The BLM must put a halt to all new leasing of public lands if there is any chance of avoiding the most severe impacts of a changing climate. Fossil fuels extracted from public lands including oil and gas account for nearly 24 percent of the nation’s annual carbon dioxide emissions.
    • Even without the climate crisis, this lease sale would be unacceptable. The BLM is proposing to blanket southern Utah’s redrock country with oil and gas leases, opening the door to development of some of the nation’s most remarkable public lands, including lands surrounding three of Utah’s “Mighty Five” National Parks.
    • The BLM is promoting wide-scale lease speculation. The world is currently awash in unneeded oil, as evidenced by the BLM recently giving royalty relief to oil and gas operators in this same area because those operators cannot economically develop the leases they already have.

    Click here to tell the BLM what you think about their latest giveaway to the oil and gas industry.

    Thanks to SUWA supporters like you, thousands of messages have already been sent to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, demonstrating the widespread opposition to the Trump administration’s attempt to flood southern Utah with new oil and gas wells.

    The BLM needs to get that message as well. Please take a moment to submit your comments today.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • June 16th, 2020

    As expected, the Trump administration has gone all-in on its plans to flood southern Utah’s redrock country with oil and gas development.

    If Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  gets its way during its September 2020 oil and gas lease sale, new oil and gas wells could appear at the doorstep of Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef National Parks—as well as near Bears Ears National Monument, Labyrinth Canyon, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Green River, and in lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

    The September lease sale threatens to blanket southern Utah’s landscape of red rock canyons and natural arches with drill rigs, pipelines, and truck traffic—replacing the clean air, expansive vistas, quiet stillness, and sense of wildness with the sights and sounds of industrial development, all while expanding fossil fuel emissions that are driving the climate crisis. 

    And the size of this new lease sale is massive. At more than 114,050 acres across 77 separate parcels of public land, this is the largest lease sale seen in the area since the oil industry giveaways at the end of the George W. Bush administration with its  December 2008 lease sale—which coincidentally also included 77 parcels. 

    The nature and scale of that Bush-era lease sale was so controversial that it prompted a lawsuit from conservation groups including SUWA that blocked the sale and led to long overdue and common sense reforms to the oil and gas leasing process. 

    The Trump administration threw out those reforms shortly after taking office, setting the stage for a repeat of the disastrous December 2008 lease sale.

    Previously, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has shown a willingness to speak out against oil and gas leases that lie too close to Utah’s national parks, as many of these leases do. That’s why we’re asking you to take a few minutes today to call Governor Herbert and ask him to demand that the Trump administration abandon this rapacious plan for southern Utah.

    Call Governor Herbert’s office today at 801-538-1000 and ask him to protect Utah’s national parks, or click here to be connected to his office.  You may also click here to send him an email.

    When you call, tell him:

    • To intervene and ask the BLM to cancel its inappropriate September lease sale for southern Utah, which threatens Utah’s magnificent parks and wild places.
    • We should not sacrifice our national parks and wildlands for the sake of oil and gas development, especially when the world is awash in oil.
    • His leadership in speaking out against inappropriate leasing around Dinosaur National Monument, Zion National Park, and Sand Flats Recreation Area was greatly appreciated.

    In the coming weeks, we’ll also ask you to submit comments on the lease sale directly to the BLM. 

    But first, we need you to contact Governor Herbert—and to help get the word out by sharing this post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    And click here to take additional action by send sending a Letter to the Editor.

    Thank you for taking action.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • June 15th, 2020

    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.

    Background:

    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.
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    For more information see:

    Published articles that you can respond to:

    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 terri@suwa.org with URGENT in the subject line!

    Send us a copy of your submitted and/or published LTE! terri@suwa.org 

    Share your published LTE/OpEd on social media!  Suggested hashtags: #ProtectWildUtah, #StandwithBearsEars  #publiclands #wilderness #utah

  • June 10th, 2020

    Contact:
    Liam Kelly, National Parks Conservation Association, 213-814-8666, lkelly@npca.org
    Landon Newell, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3991, landon@suwa.org 

    Salt Lake City, UT – The Trump administration has released its proposal to open up more than 110,000 acres of public land to oil and gas drilling, most of which lies in southern Utah near Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef national parks.

    • In total, the administration is opening up 114,050 acres of public land to oil and gas drilling.
    • Leases are within 0.4 miles of Canyonlands National Park, 4 miles of Arches National Park, 3 miles of Capitol Reef National Park, and 0.7 miles of the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument.
    • Leases are also within 5 miles to Dead Horse Point State Park, and within 0.1 miles of the Green River.
    • Leases also encompass lands with wilderness characteristics including Duma Point, Goldbar Canyon, Hatch Canyon, Horse Thief Point, Hunters Canyon and Labyrinth Canyon areas. These are areas that appear natural (i.e., are free from signs of human development), and provide outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive types of recreation (e.g., hiking, camping, and hunting).

    A map of the area is available here

    Photographs of the area are available here

    At more than 114,050 acres across 77 separate parcels of public land, the scale of the lease sale is the largest seen in the area since the oil industry giveaways at the end of the George W. Bush administration in December 2008, which ironically also included 77 parcels.

    The nature and scale of that Bush-era lease sale was so controversial that it prompted a lawsuit from conservation groups that blocked the sale and led to long overdue and common sense reforms to the oil and gas leasing process. The Trump administration overturned those reforms shortly after taking office, setting the stage for a repeat of the disastrous December 2008 lease sale.

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pressing ahead with its plans to proceed with the lease sale by beginning the public comment period, ignoring numerous calls for the agency to pause or extend comment periods until after the pandemic.

    The BLM made the right decision last month to extend the comment period on a planning process for oil and gas leasing near Chaco Culture National Historical Park, where many communities are focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and keeping their members safe. The agency should also take community needs into consideration here and extend the comment period.

    The U.S. Geologic Survey and other government and academic reports predict that southeastern Utah will warm more rapidly over the coming decades than nearly any other part of America.  By proposing to sell these leases to oil and gas extraction the Trump administration is ignoring the climate crisis and working to seal the fate of this area to be hotter, drier and less ecologically sustainable.

    “This supersized lease sale will hand over oil and gas lease rights to famous Utah red-rock landscapes and lead to heavy industrial development and emissions that will degrade air quality and dark night skies, permanently mar the land, and exacerbate the climate crisis,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “It’s plain to see that the Trump administration is trying to sell as many leases as it can before the November election; we’ve stopped this kind of short-sighted public lands fire sale before.”

    “This is a huge expansion and a real threat to nearby national parks and monuments, as well as enormous amounts of the extraordinary red-rock landscape that Utah is famous for,” said Erika Pollard, associate director southwest for the National Park Conservation Association. “The public have a right to have their say about oil and gas drilling plans, and especially those as reckless as these. Forcing this through in the middle of a pandemic while people are preoccupied with keeping their families and communities safe demonstrates a complete disregard for the public. The Bureau of Land Management urgently needs to reconsider this entire oil and gas drilling plan and at the very least should postpone the process until the public can participate properly.”

    “Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks are among the crown jewels of America’s National Park System, attracting over 2.5 million visitors to Utah in a normal year,” said Phil Francis, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “But this is not a normal year.  Leasing public land for oil and gas drilling on the doorstep of these national parks will always be a threat to these irreplaceable resources. And right now, there is no good reason for BLM to push through a lease sale as communities across the country continue to deal with the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. We urge BLM to defer the leasing proposal until the fall, when the public will be better able to submit their comments on this questionable lease sale.”


    Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

    The mission of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is the preservation of the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of all Americans. SUWA promotes local and national recognition of the region’s unique wilderness character through research and public education; supports both administrative and legislative initiatives to permanently protect the Colorado Plateau wild places within the National Wilderness Preservation System, or by other protective designations where appropriate; builds support for such initiatives on both the local and national level; and provides leadership within the conservation movement through uncompromising advocacy for wilderness preservation. www.suwa.org

  • March 19th, 2020

    Salt Lake City, UT (March 19, 2020): The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is preparing to offer a massive swath of treasured Utah public lands for oil and gas development.  The Washington Post reported on this new development on March 18th.

    BLM has received more than 230 oil and gas lease nominations covering more than 150,000 acres of public lands, near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Bears Ears National Monument, and Dead Horse Point State Park. Consistent with the agency’s actions to date, they will offer these lands for leasing and development at its September lease sale, in accordance with Trump administration directives and policies.

    A map of the nominated land is available here.

    The agency’s move will blanket this unmistakably Utah landscape of red rock canyons, natural arches, and colorful spires with drilling leases. Ultimately, this will replace the clean air, expansive vistas, quiet stillness, intense night skies, and sense of wildness, with the sights and sounds of industrial development, and expand fossil fuel emissions that are harmful to our climate. 

    Photographs of the public lands affected are available here.

    This proposal comes on the heels of the BLM’s decision last month to defer offering two proposed oil and gas leases atop the renowned Slickrock mountain bike trail near Arches National Park in June. BLM deferred the  land after hearing complaints from the public including the Moab City Council, Grand County Commission, and Utah Governor Gary Herbert.

    “Climate change requires immediate action. The BLM must put a halt to all new leasing of public lands if there is any chance of avoiding the most severe impacts of a changing climate,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “Development of these leases will exacerbate the climate crisis, while also marring one of the nation’s most iconic redrock landscapes.”

    The nominated land is within the “Moab master leasing plan” area. The Moab MLP was a study completed in 2016 that was widely hailed as one that would provide certainty to all stakeholders about where leasing might be appropriate and under what terms and conditions. Unfortunately, the current administration has weaponized that plan and is now promoting leasing in a magnitude and scope that was never intended.

    The lands nominated for leasing and drilling encompass some of the wildest, most scenic, and culturally significant public lands in Utah:

    • The total acreage of nominated leases is greater than the size of three of Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks: Bryce, Arches and Zion.
    • Nominated leases are as close as one and a half miles to Arches National Park, with 25 lease parcels located within 5 miles of the park boundary.
    • Nominated leases are as close as half a mile to Canyonlands National Park, with 25 lease parcels located within 5 miles of the park boundary.
    • Nominated leases are as close as three-fourths of a mile to Dead Horse Point State Park, with 15 lease parcels located within 5 miles of the park boundary.
    • Nominated leases are as close as one mile to the original boundary for Bears Ears National Monument, with 30 leases within 5 miles of the monument boundary.
    • Nominated leases are as close as one-fourth of a mile to the Green River, with 45 leases within 3 miles of the river.
    • Nominated leases cross the Colorado River west of Moab.
    • The nominated leases encompass lands with wilderness characteristics including the Duma Point, Goldbar Canyon, Hatch Canyon, Horse Thief Point, Hunters Canyon, and Labyrinth Canyon areas. These are areas that appear natural (i.e., are free from signs of human development), and provide outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive types of recreation (e.g., hiking, camping, and hunting).

    “In the face of our climate crisis, the BLM is barreling in the opposite direction,” said Sharon Buccino, director of lands at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This foolish plan would dig us into a deeper hole and sacrifice magnificent Utah lands.  It’s truly shameful, and we aim to stop it.”

    “The BLM must deny these egregious requests to open oil and gas development outside of Arches—on lands double the size of the national park itself,” said Erika Pollard, Associate Director for the Southwest Region of the National Parks Conservation Association. “The BLM has the opportunity to reject this industry wish list that will only advance the climate crisis and threatens our national parks and treasured public lands, the Colorado River and the incredible outdoor experiences that millions of people come to enjoy each year.”

    With climate change on the rise, locking up more of Utah’s public land for oil and gas development is short-sighted and irresponsible. In addition, Utah, like most western states, already has a surplus of BLM-managed lands that are under lease but not in development—with only forty-two percent of its total leased land currently in development. There were approximately 2.6 million acres of federal public land in Utah leased for oil and gas development (here—follow hyperlink for Table 2 Acreage in Effect) at the close of BLM’s 2018 fiscal year. At the same time, oil and gas companies had 1.1 million acres of those leased lands in production (here—follow hyperlink for Table 6 Acreage of Producing Leases).

    The mission of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is the preservation of the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau, and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of all Americans.  SUWA has more than 14,000 members nationwide and maintains offices in Salt Lake City, Moab, and Washington, D.C.  For more information visit us at www.suwa.org or follow us on Twitter @SouthernUTWild.

    The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.NRDC.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

    Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.  

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