Press Releases Archives - Page 3 of 16


  • September 18th, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 18, 2017

    Contact:
    Laura Peterson, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.236.3762
    Stephen Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3981

    Last Friday afternoon, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed a lawsuit in Utah’s Third District Court alleging that San Juan County repeatedly violated Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act when county commissioners met with Interior Secretary Zinke, Interior Department officials and Members of Congress in closed-door meetings to discuss the fate of Bears Ears National Monument. In the lawsuit, SUWA asserts that on multiple occasions in May and June of this year, San Juan County commissioners met with Interior Secretary Zinke and other officials in both Utah and Washington, DC regarding the future of Bears Ears National Monument. The meetings were not publicly noticed and county commissioners did not allow members of the public to attend or participate in the meeting.

    “The San Juan County Commission’s repeated closed-door meetings are blatant violations of Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act. County commissioners are required to conduct public business out in the open, not in secret,” said Laura Peterson, staff attorney for SUWA.

    Last month, SUWA filed suit against Kane and Garfield Counties for similar violations of the Open and Public Meetings Act regarding the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

  • September 1st, 2017

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced plans to offer seventy-five leases for oil and gas development on federal public land on the doorstep of Dinosaur National Monument and in the San Rafael Swell.

    Read More »
  • August 24th, 2017

    In response to news that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has delivered his monuments report to the White House, SUWA executive director Scott Groene released the following statement:

    “Secretary Zinke’s illegal recommendations to the President are the latest salvo in this administration’s attacks on America’s public lands. It’s outrageous that after 99% of the more than 2.8 million comments received by the Secretary supported keeping our monuments protected, Secretary Zinke is still recommending the President illegally attack our national treasures. President Trump should throw this report away.”

    Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument, Devils Garden.

  • August 15th, 2017

    Kane and Garfield County Commissions held a series of unlawful meetings over Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, violating Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act

    For Immediate Release
    August 15, 2017

    Contact:
    Laura Peterson, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.236.3762
    David Reymann, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless, 801.257.7939

    Today, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed a lawsuit in Utah’s Third District Court alleging that Kane and Garfield Counties violated Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act when county commissioners met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and others in a closed-door meeting to discuss the fate of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  In the lawsuit, SUWA asserts that on or around May 10, 2017, Kane and Garfield County commissioners met with Interior Secretary Zinke and other officials in Utah regarding the future of the almost 21-year-old national monument.  The meeting was not publicly noticed and county commissioners did not allow members of the public to attend or participate in the meeting.

    “These commission meetings are textbook violations of Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act.  Because the commissions met with Secretary Zinke and other officials and discussed the future of these national monuments they need to provide public notice and allow the public an opportunity to attend the meeting.  That’s the whole point of the Act: for state and local government to conduct public business out in the open,” said David Reymann, an attorney with the Salt Lake City law firm Parr Brown Gee & Loveless.

    “The Utah Open and Public Meetings Act requires county commissioners to deliberate and take actions openly and transparently.  Kane and Garfield county commissions’ secret meetings with Secretary Zinke and other government officials about Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are unlawful and cannot continue.  SUWA members in these counties have an intense interest in protecting Utah’s national monuments and would have attended these meetings and vocally advocated for their protection had they known about them,” said Laura Peterson, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

    Mr. Reymann is representing SUWA in its suit against Kane and Garfield Counties.

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  • June 22nd, 2017

    * SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE *

    For Immediate Release: June 22, 2017

    Contact:
    Landon Newell, Staff Attorney
    Tel: 801-428-3991

     Acting in lockstep with the Trump administration’s relentless onslaught against federal public lands, the BLM is proposing to offer at the agency’s December 2017 oil and gas lease sale 79 parcels for leasing and development on approximately 100,000 acres of federal public lands in eastern and central Utah.  Included in this list are parcels along the western edge of the San Rafael Swell and immediately adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument.

    “This is an outrageous proposal to lease and develop some of Utah’s most culturally rich and wildly scenic federal public lands.  BLM has quickly come full circle and brought us back to the ‘drill now-drill everywhere’ days of the early 2000s, and once again Utah is front and center on the national stage for these disastrous policies,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

    BLM Vernal field office leasing documents here; BLM Price field office leasing documents here.

    Leasing in the San Rafael Swell
    For the third time in five years, BLM is proposing to offer leases in the Molen Reef region of the western San Rafael Swell – an area with high cultural and archaeological density and outstanding recreational opportunities.  The BLM’s initial decision to offer these leases in 2013 drew immediate and widespread criticism, including a large public protest in front of the agency’s state headquarters in Salt Lake City. Ultimately, the agency determined that it did not have enough information regarding cultural and archaeological resources to justify leasing the area for oil and gas development.  In 2015, the BLM once again deferred leasing in the Molen Reef region, citing the continuing need to gather more cultural and archaeological resource information.

    To date, the agency has still not completed those cultural resource inventories.  In fact, the BLM admits it has surveyed only 0.6 percent of the proposed parcels and thus is in no stronger a position to justify leasing now than it was in 2013.  The agency’s leasing flip-flop is a disservice to this remarkable wilderness-caliber landscape and its thousands of known – and yet to be discovered – cultural resources.

    View of lease area in the western San Rafael Swell (Eagle Canyon/Molen Reef region). Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

    Leasing on the Doorstep of Dinosaur National Monument
    In a return to the Bush administration’s scorched earth approach to oil and gas leasing in the Uinta Basin, the BLM is also proposing to offer leases immediately adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument.  This ill-advised proposal would green-light oil and gas development right next to the monument, including along the primary access route travelled by thousands of visitors annually.  In fact, one of the parcels proposed for sale was previously offered at BLM’s infamous December 2008 oil and gas lease sale and later withdrawn from sale by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after a successful lawsuit by SUWA and others blocked its issuance.

    In a letter to the BLM, the National Park Service has objected to the leasing proposal, citing the adverse impacts to air quality, viewsheds, dark night skies, water quality, and natural soundscapes.

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