Guided by the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda, on July 16th the Utah Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed a massive statewide auction of federal public lands for oil and gas leasing and development. The December 2018 lease sale will be the largest in Utah in more than a decade, and its targets include many wild and culturally-rich redrock landscapes.
In this proposal, the BLM intends to offer for lease:
• 225 parcels totaling 329,826 acres of federal public lands including wilderness-caliber lands in Bitter Creek, Desolation Canyon, Dragon Canyon, Hatch Canyon / Hatch Wash, Labyrinth Canyon, Monument Canyon, Sweetwater Canyon, Tin Cup Mesa, Wolf Point, and the White River area (all proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act — click here to see map).
• Parcels located in greater sage-grouse habitat, adjacent to rivers and streams (including the Green and White rivers), and in or near culturally-rich landscapes including Nine Mile Canyon and the Alkali Ridge Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
• 159 parcels in the Uinta Basin, the majority of which are located in or near the region found by the Environmental Protection Agency to be in violation of national air quality standards for ozone—a problem largely attributable to the BLM’s authorization of oil and gas exploration and development in that region.
It gets worse! The BLM also intends to use the environmental analysis prepared for this lease sale to justify its recent issuance of an oil and gas lease located on lands unlawfully removed by President Trump from monument protection in Bears Ears National Monument. The agency issued this lease in early 2018 but suspended that decision following a successful legal challenge brought by SUWA. However, the BLM is now trying to paper over its prior unlawful leasing decision as part of its larger auction of these remarkable lands.
Finally, and adding insult to injury, the BLM has taken significant steps to limit opportunities for public comment on this massive lease sale. In fact, the public will have no opportunity at all to comment on the agency’s environmental analysis. Instead, in an attempt to rush this sale through, the BLM is only allowing “scoping” comments during a 15-day period which runs through July 31st. When the agency’s final decision is released, the window for public protest will be a mere 10 days (reduced from the usual 30).
Please take a moment to tell the BLM that this massive auction of public lands, and the elimination of the public’s voice, is completely unacceptable.
Thank you for taking action!