• March 18th, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing a motorized travel management plan for the greater Paunsaugunt area near Kanab, located just west of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and south of Bryce Canyon National Park. The plan will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this incredible place for decades to come.

    Check out our latest story map below to learn more, then take action by submitting comments to the BLM by the March 25th deadline.

    Click image to view story map.

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  • March 16th, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing a motorized travel management plan for the greater Paunsaugunt area outside of Kanab—a plan that will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this incredible place for decades to come.

    Just west of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and south of Bryce Canyon National Park, the Paunsaugunt travel management area encompasses roughly 200,000 acres of BLM-managed lands. The diverse character of the area, from lava flows and sand dunes to ponderosa pine forests and thousand-foot-high cliffs, provides spectacular opportunities for quiet recreation. The region also encompasses significant cultural sites and important wildlife habitat.

    The BLM is currently in the “scoping” phase of its travel planning process, which identifies issues the agency must consider. It is vital that the BLM hears from the public that the current route network is not acceptable, and that the number and mileage of motorized routes must be reduced to minimize damage and protect public land resources.

    Click here to submit your comments to the BLM today.

    Upper Kanab Creek proposed wilderness. © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    Federal law requires the BLM to minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources when designating motorized vehicle routes. The agency’s current travel plan—pushed through in 2008 during the waning days of the George W. Bush administration—blanketed the area with ORV routes, prioritizing motorized recreation at the expense of all other public land users. It also designated routes that travel directly through cultural sites, fragment wildlife habitat, and damage wilderness-caliber public lands.

    The BLM should ensure access to trailheads, scenic overlooks, and recreation opportunities, but it must also protect the very reason people want to drive to such remote places: to enjoy their unspoiled beauty.

    Tell the BLM to fulfill its legal obligation and keep motorized trails out of wildlife habitat, cultural sites, and proposed wilderness in the Paunsaugunt region.

    The most helpful comments will mention specific areas or trails (by name or number); explain how you enjoy hiking, camping, and other non-motorized pursuits in these areas; and discuss (if appropriate) how motorized use has disrupted your enjoyment of those activities.

    The BLM is accepting comments through March 25, 2022. Be sure to make your voice heard!

    Thank you for taking action!

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  • March 8th, 2022

    Utah Governor Cox and his pro-fossil-fuel allies are cynically trying to take advantage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to encourage President Biden to quickly lease publicly-owned lands across the United States, including in Utah. But issuing new leases will do little to alleviate rising fuel prices.

    First, the issuing of new leases doesn’t directly correlate with the amount of drilling on public lands. While the acreage of public lands under lease in Utah has fluctuated over the past decade, the acreage in production has not. As of 2020, approximately sixty-three percent of existing federal leases in Utah were undeveloped, totaling nearly 1.8 million acres. 

    Put another way, the oil and gas industry is currently sitting on nearly 1.8 million acres of public land leases and not developing them. There is no reason to believe selling more leases now would change that.


    Second
    , oil and gas companies have nearly 10,000 unused (already approved) drilling permits in their pockets. In Utah, oil and gas operators on average drill less than half of their approved drilling permits.

    As President Biden correctly explained when he banned the import of Russian oil and natural gas:

    “[Industry has] 9,000 permits to drill now . . . They could be drilling right now, yesterday, last week, last year. They have 9,000 to drill onshore that are already approved. So let me be clear . . . They are not using them for production now. That’s their decision. These are the facts.” (See also this White House fact sheet.)

    Third, most oil and gas drilling in Utah and across the United States takes place on state and private land, not public land. This means more federal public lands leasing will do little, if anything, to promote new drilling (even assuming companies would develop new leases).

    The Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development recently explained that between 2015-2019 “only an average of 17% of oil wells were drilled on federal land [in Utah]” and there is “no anticipated increase in drilling on federal land.” This study concluded that even if all federal leasing were paused—for years—“Utah has more than enough potential well locations that could be drilled without major disruption to overall activities.”

  • February 16th, 2022

    The oil & gas leasing, drilling and cleanup program in the United States is a mess– needing serious reform, time and money to fix. During the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden made some encouraging statements and promises to address the climate crisis. In particular, Mr. Biden promised to wind down oil & gas leasing and drilling on public lands in the U.S. So where do things stand one year later, especially in Utah? To answer that question and explore the administration’s ongoing efforts to reform this broken program, we are joined by SUWA Staff Attorney Landon Newell.

     

     

    Take action after this episode!

    Sign up to receive alerts from SUWA so you can participate in petitions, keep up to date on oil & gas leasing news, and take other actions to support oil & gas reform!

     

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    Theme music is by Haley Noel Austin, with interlude music by Larry Pattis.
    Dave Pacheco is the host of Wild Utah.
    Post studio production and editing is by Laura Borichevsky.
    A transcript of this episode can be found here when this link becomes active.

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